2008 Benjamin Bates Society Gathering

Third gathering of the Benjamin Bates Society marked by distinct celebration.

Highlighting the recent Benjamin Bates Society gathering in Minneapolis was the presentation of the Benjamin Elijah Mays Medal, the College’s highest alumni honor, to E. Robert Kinney ’39, LL.D. ’85.

In addition, the society welcomed four new members to its ranks: David Foster ’77 and his wife, Mina Samuels; and Robert Dunn ’50, L.H.D. ’99, and his wife, Gladys Bovino Dunn ’51.

The citation for Kinney’s Mays Medal praised the former General Mills CEO and Bates Trustee chair as a “creative and talented entrepreneur and a civic-minded business leader” as well as a “skilled Trustee and adviser to Bates.” The citation noted that Kinney, one of Bates’ top philanthropists, “has set a standard others aspire to,” adding that he has “held steadfastly to the values of service, compassion and civic responsibility that all of us at Bates hold so dear.”

Bob Kinney ’39 wears the Benjamin Elijah Mays Medal after its presentation by (from left) President Hansen, Jim Moody ’53 and Joe Willett ’73 during the Benjamin Bates Society gathering in Minneapolis.

Conferred by the Alumni Council and awarded only on rare occasions, the Mays Medal honors the alumna or alumnus “who has performed distinguished service to the larger (worldwide) community and been deemed a Bates College graduate of outstanding accomplishment.” The medal’s most recent recipient was Constance Berry Newman ’56, in 2006.

Presenting the Mays Medal were two fellow members of the Benjamin Bates Society who have followed the aspirational path that Kinney, chair of the Board of Trustees from from 1979 to 1987, has forged: James L. Moody Jr. ’53, L.H.D. ’01, board chair from 1987 to 2001, and current board chairman Joseph Willett ’73. Along with President Elaine Tuttle Hansen, they bestowed the medal on behalf of the Alumni Council.

Kinney, a Maine native and well-known civic and business leader in Minneapolis, is a founding member of the Benjamin Bates Society, a group that comprises philanthropists who have given $1 million or more in lifetime gifts to the College. It is the highest distinction conferred upon benefactors of the College and is given in the spirit of Bates’ first benefactor, Benjamin Bates, whose gifts were instrumental in the College’s earliest days.

Kinney’s daughter, Isabella Keating, gives a big congratulatory hug to her father.

Gifts from Kinney and his wife, Margee, have included the Kinney Professorship in History, the Kinney Wing of Pettengill Hall, and the Kinney Scholarship. As a Trustee, he chaired the national campaign that built Ladd library and is credited with providing key advice that helped to secure funding for the Olin Arts Center in the 1980s.

During the gathering, Kinney was given an album of thank-you letters from former Kinney scholars. One, a 2008 alumna now in medical school, wrote that she “cannot wait to be in a position to match the good deed done by you with one of my own.” Speaking at the event on behalf of all Kinney scholars were Daniel Johnson ’06 and Vita Taormina ’94.

Kinney looks at a photo display with his wife, Margee (left), and President Elaine Tuttle Hansen during the gathering.

In addition to honoring Kinney, the society inducted four new members: longtime Trustee David Foster ’77 and his wife, Mina Samuels; and Robert Dunn ’50, L.H.D. ’99, and his wife, Gladys Bovino Dunn ’51, who last spring received the College’s Distinguished Service Award during Reunion 2008.

During the Nov. 6–8 gathering, society members also attended a welcome reception, tour and dinner at the Walker Art Center and the live broadcast of NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion (and got to hear host Garrison Keiller give a warm greeting to Kinney and Bates). Other events included a panel discussion featuring current Bates students discussing the distinctive nature of the liberal arts education at Bates.

The program gave attendees the opportunity to meet Kelly Kerner, new vice president for College advancement, and discuss Bates issues and goings-on with Kerner and President Hansen.

Inaugurated in 2005, the Benjamin Bates Society reflects the growing numbers of alumni, parents, and friends who are developing meaningful ties with Bates today and stepping forward with increasingly generous gifts to the College. Gifts from the 44 members have been instrumental in helping the College grow and succeed over the years, supporting a range of priorities and financial needs.

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