Bates’ Best Awards

Bates’ Best honors are awarded annually to dedicated alumni and parent volunteers who express a passion and commitment for advancing the mission of the college. 


The following alumna received her Bates’ Best award on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, at a Boston Bates Business Network event.

Melissa Yanagi ’03
For 10 years now, Melissa has been an active member of the Boston Bates Business Network and chair of the network’s steering committee for the past four. She is, says one of her network colleagues, “the glue that holds the steering committee together, driving us to find new and creative ideas for network events each year.” Led by Melissa, the steering committee has drawn upon the business acumen and expertise of Bates graduates to assemble a powerful and informative series of events that advances the interests of the region’s alumni business community. Here are just a few of the group’s recent and heady topics: “Understanding Big Data: In the Classroom and in the Real World,” “Navigating Global Deals and Development,” and “The Boston IPO Boom: An Insider’s Perspective on the IPO Path and Process.”

Melissa, with your degree in economics from Bates, your MBA from Stanford, and the insight you have acquired through your steadily advancing roles in the world of business — most recently as director of 3D visualization for Wayfair Supply in Boston — you are ideally suited to guide the Boston Bates Business Network.

Thank you for your leadership of the network and service to Bates. Congratulations — you are one of Bates’ Best!


The following alumni and parents received their Bates’ Best awards from Lisa Romeo 88, president of the Alumni Council, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, at Back to Bates: Homecoming & Family Weekend.

George Taylor and Marianna B. Accomando-Taylor P’16
Behind every successful collegiate athletic team are highly engaged parents. And for the historically successful Bates rowing teams, George and Marianna have been front and center. Among the Bates rowing community, their support — and bacon cheeseburgers — are legendary. You see, George and Marianna took it upon themselves to provide and prepare delicious food and all the fixings at men’s and women’s rowing regattas. The many student-athletes, parents, and alumni who have experienced their hospitality know they have served up far more than sustenance. At each event, they have graciously welcomed new parents and student-athletes to the Bates rowing family. Everyone who nominated them for this award cited the Taylors’ warmth, generosity, and selflessness. “They never sought kudos or praise for their efforts,” said one person, “and yet they are so deserving of both.” Another said, “Their enthusiasm was contagious, and parents, friends, families, and student-athletes always lingered at the Bates tent to enjoy the ambiance the Taylors created — as well as the phenomenal food.”

George and Marianna, you have been integral to the success of our rowing teams by demonstrating the commitment to community, which defines the Bates experience. You have done your daughter, Emma, of the Bates Class of 2016, and all her rowing teammates proud.

Thank you and congratulations — you truly are two of Bates’ Best!


Jeremy Chase ’91 and Chris Magendantz ’91
As you all know, annual gifts to the Bates Fund are vital to the college’s ability to enroll and educate the best students, regardless of their means, and provide them with a transformative liberal arts experience. As longtime gift co-chairs for the Class of 1991, Jeremy and Chris understand the importance of annual class giving to the college and to students. What’s more, they know how to convey this importance to their classmates and encourage them to make Bates a philanthropic priority. For their 25th Reunion year, Jeremy and Chris led their class’s efforts to give more than $212,000 — an increase of 142 percent over the previous year. Because of their leadership, the Class of 1991 set a class record to support everything from financial aid and student-faculty research opportunities to technology resources that enhance all aspects of the learning and teaching experience.

Jeremy and Chris, thank you for your loyal service, your personal philanthropy to Bates, and your leadership. Congratulations — you are two of Bates’ Best!


Erica Plunkett ’86
Among other things, the success of Bates Reunions is driven by this maxim about attendance — the more the merrier. As a class co-president and social chair for the Class of 1986’s Reunion last June, Erica made sure her class’s 30th was both merry and marvelous. But getting her classmates to turn out in droves and ensuring a good time for all were no small feats. Erica led the social committee in choosing a theme and costume for the Alumni Parade — we adored the “vintage” look, by the way — and she worked the phone, as well as email, snail-mail, and social media, to rally her classmates. She helped organize class-specific events throughout the weekend, like “What I Know Now,” the highly entertaining series of TED-like talks from members of the Class of 1986, and a wine tasting featuring the yield of a classmate’s vineyard.

Erica, through your efforts and unfailing goodwill, you helped show the Class of 1986 that Bates is forever their home — and a joyous one at that. Thank you for your continued service to the Class of 1986 and to Bates. Congratulations — you are one of Bates’ Best!


Bruce Campbell ’76
Bruce’s official capacity for the Class of 1976’s 40th Reunion last June was Gift Chair. But to hear the staff of the Bates Reunion Team tell it, “jack-of-all-trades and master of every single one” is a far more fitting title. As gift chair and a class agent, Bruce rallied the Class of 1976 to achieve a whopping 67 percent Bates Fund participation, including many important stretch gifts in honor of Reunion. In his unofficial, but no less vital roles, Bruce led the coordination of a Reunion planning effort focused on re-engaging classmates by producing a robust class newsletter, increasing Class of ’76 Facebook page membership and activity, and organizing the 40th Reunion Committee’s personal outreach to classmates. To keep the committee energized and on-task, Bruce even created dynamic PowerPoint presentations for each conference call and led those calls himself.

Bruce, you are one of the most committed and involved volunteers the staff of the Bates Reunion Team has had the pleasure to work with — and the reason the Class of ’76’s 40th Reunion was a huge success. Thank you for your continued service, and, congratulations — you are one of Bates’ Best!


Fisher Qua ’06
Fisher is a BOLD Regional Coordinator — and, for the few among you who may not know — BOLD stands for Bobcats of the Last Decade. BOLD Regional Coordinators serve as local liaisons for their young alumni communities and support engagement and networking opportunities in their regions. The Seattle area comprises Fisher’s region, and he was the college’s first BOLD Regional Coordinator there. Here’s one way to think of his service to Bates: He makes sure that Seattle-based alumni have a strong and passionate long-distance relationship with Bates — and that time and distance actually make their hearts grow fonder. If you ask alumni and Bates staff about Fisher’s volunteer outreach, you’ll hear that his interest in connecting with all Seattle-area Batesies — friends and strangers alike — is rooted in his love of the college and his desire to put alumni connections to work in helping young alumni get launched in the Emerald City.

Fisher, you have been a steadfast beacon for Bates, ensuring the college is a helpful presence in the lives of alumni who are more than 3,000 miles from home. Thank you for your loyal service to the college and Seattle-area alumni. Congratulations — you are one of Bates’ Best!


The following alumna received her Bates’ Best award on Saturday, June 11, 2016, at Reunion.

Diane (Dinny) Swett ’56
Dinny, as the lead class agent for the Class of 1956, you have done a marvelous job leading a large team of class agents to success. Under your leadership, your class now stands at a record-breaking 90 percent Reunion Gift participation — well on its way to your personal goal of seeing 100 percent of your classmates give to Bates this year. Thanks in large measure to your efforts, your class has already exceeded its Bates Fund dollar goal by more than $21,000. To a person, your classmates say you bring tremendous enthusiasm and love for Bates to this volunteer role, especially in this — your class’ 60th Reunion year. You have supported your class activities for nearly 60 years and directed your class’ productive fundraising efforts with efficiency, grace, good humor, and an unflagging loyalty to your classmates and the college. Dinny, for your deep affection for Bates, your service to the Class of 1956, and your willingness to go above and beyond for the college, you are one of Bates’ Best.


Hugh B. Penney ’50 and Lois Keniston Penney ’50, P’74, P’76, GP’03, GP’07, GP’09
To give a full account of Hugh and Lois’ long and loyal service to the college over the past 66 years would take far more time that I have with you this evening, but there are a few especially important ways they have served Bates that deserve recognition.

In addition to their dedicated leadership as class volunteers and members of the College Key, Hugh and Lois devoted their boundless enthusiasm and effort to serving as the Reunion Gift and Social Chairs for their 65th Reunion in 2015. As the Gift Chair, Hugh led an incredible fundraising effort for their class, which included a special challenge to the Class of 1950 to reach $50,000 in class giving to the Bates Fund. As a direct result of his work, their class raised $59,325 — the second highest 65th Reunion Bates Fund gift in college history.  As a Reunion Social Co-Chair and Class Secretary, Lois led planning for their Reunion with Class President Wes Bonney ’50. Together, Hugh and Lois did a marvelous job with crafting class letters and coordinating Reunion attendance.

Hugh and Lois have also made Bates a philanthropic priority. As charter members and former co-chairs of the Mount David Society and members of the Bates Fund Committee, Hugh and Lois have given generously to the Named Scholars program. Through their planned giving to Bates, they are also members of the Phillips Society. And Hugh was a member of the Committee for The Campaign for Bates: Endowing Our Values, which surpassed $120 million in gifts to the college in 2006.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this isn’t the first time Hugh and Lois have been recognized by the Bates College Alumni Association for their contributions to the college. In 2005, the Alumni Association wisely honored them with the Helen A. Papaioanou ’49 Distinguished Alumni Service Award, which celebrates service to Bates deemed extraordinary in both quantity and quality.

Hugh and Lois, it is fitting that you receive the Bates Best Award because you have given your best to Bates for more than six decades. And when I say that you have given your best to the college, please know that I’m also referring to your children and grandchildren who attended Bates: your son Hugh of the Class of ’74, your son Bruce of the Class of ’76, your granddaughter Melissa of the Class of ’03, your granddaughter Alexandra of the Class of ’07, and your granddaughter Shannon of the Class of ’09. In all, the total number of your extended family members with ties to Bates approaches 18.

Hugh and Lois, on behalf of the Bates College Alumni Association — and for truly going above and beyond for Bates and the Class of 1950 — it is my great honor to present you both with this 2015 Bates Best Award.


The following alumni and parents received Bates’ Best awards on Saturday, October 3, from Michael Lieber’ 92, president of the Alumni Association, and Lisa Romeo ’88, vice president of the Alumni Association, during Back to Bates: Homecoming & Family Weekend.

Elizabeth Brown ’70
Betsey, you are a most dedicated Batesie! In addition to being an avid and highly successful fundraiser for Bates — spending hours calling and chatting with classmates and thanking donors with personal handwritten notes — you also helped plan the social programming for the Class of 1970’s many Reunions. You have been an Alumni in Admissions Volunteer since 2003 and a BCDC Career Adviser since 2007. What’s more, you steadfastly solicit news from classmates and help publish the class letter. Betsey, for everything you do in service to Bates and the Class of 1970, you are one of Bates’ best.


David Kaplan ’85, P’16
David, you brainstormed a transformative concept for alumni engagement — to organize small, regionally clustered Reunions, thereby encouraging those who cannot come to campus to engage with the Bates community. You executed this idea for the Class of 1985 from start to finish, including fully funding the initiative through your own generosity and soliciting the support of your classmates. As a result of your innovative thinking, the Classes of 1984, 1985, and 1986 now celebrate together in Burlington, Mass., prior to Reunion Weekend. With 60 alumni attending, you exceeded the goal you set for yourself and the college. David, for your innovative thinking, diligence, and enthusiasm, as well as your service on the Alumni Council, you are one of Bates’ best.


Deb Verner ’95

Deb, you served as the Social Chair for your 20th Reunion and almost single-handedly organized the entire weekend — replete with memorable, engaging activities — for the Class of 1995. You did a phenomenal of job encouraging your classmates to attend. Most importantly, you encouraged your classmates to contact you directly with any problems or concerns, thereby ensuring that they all had a remarkable weekend at Bates. You have been an Alumni in Admission volunteer for 20 years, a dedicated class fundraising volunteer, and have served on the host committee for Boston-area Presidential events. The college wisely honored you with the Distinguished Young Alumni Award in 2008 — and now, Deb, for truly going above and beyond for Bates and the Class of 1995, you are also one of Bates’ best.


Alex Wood ’66, P’95
Alex, your work on the Alumni Council has proved the depths of your readiness to help other Bates alumni and current students succeed. The number of times you have gone above and beyond to aid students and Boston-area alumni with their job search — often personally referring them to organizations and businesses that may be interested in hiring — is exceptional. You continually remind us all that by supporting current Bates students as well as alumni, we brighten their futures, we strengthen the college, and we sustain our own industries. Alex, for your deep affection for Bates, your service on the Alumni Council, and your willingness to help students and alumni, you are one of Bates’ best.


Victor Frye and Gretchen Zekiel P’16
Victor and Gretchen, you are extraordinary ambassadors and volunteers for Bates. On several happy occasions, you have graciously opened your home in Maryland to incoming students and their parents, providing them with a supportive and warm welcome to the Bates community. As co-chairs of the Parents Fund Committee and parent representatives to the Bates Fund Executive Committee, you have provided critical guidance to the college’s annual fund efforts, and have made countless phone calls, encouraging other Bates parents to join you in supporting the college. Your volunteer work for the Parents Fund ensures that your son, Jack, his peers in the Class of 2016, and generations of future Bates students have the best possible undergraduate liberal arts experience. Victor and Gretchen, for your hospitality and help in service to new Bates families and for your efforts to secure bright futures for all Bates students, you are two of Bates’ best.