The major Bates College stories of 2016–17
For Bates College, 2016–17 was a year of never-befores and how-about-thats, with a few way-to-goes along the way.
Here are the highlights:
Believed to be the largest single monetary donation ever to a Maine college, the $50 million gift from Michael ’80 and Alison Grott Bonney ’80, announced on May 16 with the launch of the Bates Campaign, will fund new and modernized science facilities at Bates.
“We have never been more optimistic about the future of Bates,” said Michael.
Kicked off with events in Boston, New York City, San Francisco, and on campus, The Bates Campaign has a goal of $300 million, making it the largest fundraising effort in college history.
The team championship, Bates rowing’s second in three years, came thanks to gutsy performances by both Bates boats at the NCAA regatta, held May 26–27 on Mercer Lake in West Windsor, N.J.
“It was really the epitome of what I love about this sport,” said Julia Mason ’17 of Niskayuna, N.Y.
Through late June, the Fulbright U.S. Student program has offered grants to 22 seniors and young alumni for 2017–18 — the college’s highest number of offers ever.
“The Fulbright mission is about young scholars taking the initiative for intercultural exchange in our global society,” says Robert Strong, who guides Bates students in applying for Fulbrights.
“The Bates experience, set in the international community of Lewiston, is an ideal incubator for such leaders.”
Bates finished 20th in the 2016–17 Learfield Directors’ Cup, an annual ranking of the country’s most successful varsity sports programs based on their team performances at NCAA championships.
Bates ranked 20th out of 325 institutions that scored points in 2016–17. In all, there are 451 NCAA Division III member schools.
The following Bates teams earned Directors’ Cup points: women’s rowing (NCAA champs), men’s lacrosse (5th-place tie), women’s outdoor track and field (11th), women’s indoor track and field (11th tie), women’s swimming (13th), alpine and Nordic skiing (17th), women’s cross country (19th), men’s swimming (24th), and men’s indoor track and field (42nd).
In December 2016, the American Talent Initiative selected Bates on the basis of the college’s commitment to access, affordability, and post-graduation success.
“We are proud to join the American Talent Initiative and look forward to offering our energy, experience, and creativity to the campaign,” said President Spencer.
“Education remains the great equalizer in our society.”
Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the initiative seeks, over the next nine years, to expand by 50,000 the number of low- and moderate-income students attending 270 top U.S. schools.
“At a time when we’re too often reminded of issues that divide us, education remains the great equalizer in our society,” said Spencer.
In March, the team of Abby Westberry ’19 of Readfield, Maine, and Tessa Holtzman ’17 of Las Cruces, N.M., won the North American Women’s Debating Championship.
And in January, the team of Zoë Seaman-Grant ’17 of Charleston, S.C., and Matt Davis ’18 of Chicago made Bates’ first-ever final-four appearance at the World Universities Debating Championships, held in The Hague, Netherlands.
The performances have once again “solidified Bates as an elite program,” said Director of Debate Jan Hovden.
Murray received the college’s signature teaching award for, among other things, “making econometrics click for [students] in a way that other people don’t,” said his colleague James Hughes.
Students don’t just rave about Murray’s ability to communicate econometrics. They say he even makes it fun. “He made complex concepts enjoyable and interesting to learn,” said Sarah Centanni ’17 of Hingham, Mass.
The Bates senior’s winning pitch in the student-run Bobcat Ventures competition on April 1, 2016, grew from her summer job helping a Lewiston nonprofit, the Center for Wisdom’s Women, make some money by growing and selling products made from medicinal herbs and flowers.
Rabideau said that being able to knit together two strong strands of the Bates experience — entrepreneurism and social awareness — “was my favorite part of the experience: Having the kind of work you value brought to life by an entrepreneurship competition.”
February 2017 delivered a one-two-three-four-five punch of snowstorms totaling around 47 inches, which is more than double the height of your average bobcat.
Midway through the February blitz, with the temperature at about 13 degrees and the wind gusting to 25 mph, we caught up with Kinsey Moser ’18 of Florida, at left, who was walking with Emma Foss ’19 and Adam Poulin ’19 of Maine and Jade Donaldson ’18 of New Jersey.
Bates is cutting emissions and saving money as the first U.S. college to heat with an innovative fuel oil made from wood scraps and other cellulosic biomass products.
Bates sustainability manager Tom Twist estimates that burning RFO will cut the steam plant’s annual emission of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) from about 3,080 metric tons to 532.
“It’s a huge drop, which is pretty cool,” said Twist.
Denounced with vigor by President Clayton Spencer, the dastardly attempt to discourage Bates students from participating in the 2016 national election on Nov. 8 captured national attention.
Two days before the election, orange fliers posted in Commons and residences by an unknown person implied that voting in Maine meant that a student must get a Maine driver’s license and, if they owned a car, register it with the state. Neither are requirements for students to vote in Maine.
In her statement to the community, President Spencer denounced the fliers as “clearly a deliberate attempt at voter suppression.”
Plavin, who died Nov. 3, 2016, was the face and spirit of Bates dance and, for her students, “a spirited defender and nurturer of their aspirations and dreams,” said President Spencer.
Dance critic and historian Suzanne Carbonneau ’76 said that Plavin provided an entrée “to the world of artistic creation” for her students. “We learned that passionate engagement, an appreciation of the sublime, and the cultivation of compassion are forms of knowledge that none of us can afford to be without.”
Dedicated on Oct. 2, 2016, in honor of the Chus’ gift, Kalperis Hall and Chu Hall, located at 65 and 55 Campus Ave. respectively, provide housing for 243 students. In addition, Kalperis Hall features street-level space for the relocated and reimagined Bates College Store and Post & Print office.
The new buildings establish a new, dynamic area of college life on the south side of campus while offering a more defined and welcoming gateway to Bates.
The project is part of the college’s strategic efforts to improve residential offerings on a broad scale while maintaining campus enrollment at approximately 1,750 students.
The Bates rowing program had a housewarming on Oct. 29, 2016, formally dedicating its new donor-funded boathouse on the Androscoggin River in Greene.
The new facility has what the old boathouse, a rustic unheated pole barn, did not have: locker rooms, workout space, and secure storage for boats.
Still, some things won’t change. “We take pride in being the tough, gritty team from Maine,” said captain Abbey Bierman ’17 of Bethlehem, N.Y. “And this boathouse will not change that.”
Museum of Art’s ‘Phantom Punch’ exhibition is among first in U.S. to present contemporary Saudi artists
You didn’t see it coming: A groundbreaking exhibition of contemporary Saudi Arabian art at the Bates College Museum of Art last fall and winter.
“We want to show that there are creative, interesting, critical people who are exploring the political and cultural issues in their society,” said co-curator Loring Danforth, Dana Professor of Anthropology.
Punctuating his remarks with penetrating detail, Shaun King, senior social justice writer for the New York Daily News and a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, spoke to a capacity audience in the Gomes Chapel on Oct. 11, 2016.
“Sometimes human beings are amazing, and sometimes they’re really terrible,” King said. “Sometimes the quality of humanity goes up, and sometimes it goes really far down.”
The grant will support work by Dana Professor of Chemistry Tom Wenzel and a collaborator to advance active learning, where students take a hands-on approach to solving problems that have their roots in real-world situations.
“This is a way to help faculty meaningfully change the way they teach,” Wenzel said. “To move away from lectures to doing in-class group work, and away from ‘recipe-driven’ laboratories to more open-ended experiments.”
Robert Flynn, a three-sport coach with ‘iconic Bobcat zen’ who elevated Bates skiing to national prominence, dies at age 83
Bob Flynn’s warmth and loyalty to his athletes embodied “the force, the spirit, and the iconic Bobcat zen” of Bates athletics.
At his induction into the Bates Scholar-Athlete Society in 2015, Flynn was honored for his many years of “encouraging Bates athletes to participate in all Bates had to offer. Most of all, he has assisted Bates students in challenging themselves.”
Whatever the sport, “it just didn’t matter to him who you were. He was nice — period,” said Dave Irons, a longtime friend and Maine ski industry journalist.