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The College

Mission Statement

Bates is a college of the liberal arts and sciences, nationally recognized for the qualities of the educational experience it provides. It is a coeducational, nonsectarian, residential college with special commitments to academic rigor, and to assuring in all of its efforts the dignity of each individual and access to its programs and opportunities by qualified learners. Bates prizes both the inherent values of a demanding education and the profound usefulness of learning, teaching, and understanding. Moreover, throughout the history of the College, Bates graduates have linked education with service, leadership, and obligations beyond themselves.

As a college of the liberal arts and sciences, Bates offers a curriculum and faculty that challenge students to attain intellectual achievements and to develop powers of critical assessment, analysis, expression, aesthetic sensibility, and independent thought. In addition, Bates recognizes that learning is not restricted to cognitive categories and that the full range of human experience needs to be encouraged and cultivated. The College expects students to appreciate the discoveries and insights of established traditions of learners as well as to participate in resolving what is unknown.

Bates is committed to an open and supportive residential environment. The College's programs are designed to encourage student development, and to foster leadership, service, and creativity. The College sponsors cultural, volunteer, athletic, social, and religious opportunities that are open to all students, and it values participation in these activities.

Bates also recognizes that it has responsibilities to the larger community. Where possible and when consistent with its primary responsibilities to its students, faculty, and alumni, the College makes available its educational and cultural resources, its expertise, and its collective energies to professional as well as to regional communities outside the institution.

The Foundations of the College

In 2005, Bates celebrates its sesquicentennial, honoring a 150-year history that has, from its very earliest years, been marked by innovation and opportunity, while at the same time valuing deeply the traditions of the liberal arts and their critical role in a just and civil society.

Bates was founded in 1855 by people who believed strongly in freedom, civil rights, and the importance of a higher education for all who could benefit from it. Bates has always admitted students without regard to race, religion, or national origin. Great efforts were made in designing the institution to ensure that no qualified student would be turned away because he or she could not afford the cost of a Bates education. Although they met with considerable criticism from other regional colleges, the founders held fast to their commitment to admit both men and women: Bates was New England's first coeducational college. The inclusive nature of the College's admissions philosophy has guided, enriched and strengthened the institution for 150 years.

As with many New England institutions, religion played a vital role in the College's founding. The Reverend Oren Burbank Cheney is honored as the founder and first president of Bates. He was a Freewill Baptist minister, a teacher, and a former Maine legislator. Cheney steered through the Maine Legislature a bill creating a corporation for educational purposes initially called the Maine State Seminary, located in Lewiston, Maine's fastest-growing industrial and commercial center.

Cheney assembled a six-person faculty dedicated to teaching the classics and moral philosophy to both men and women. In 1863 he received a collegiate charter, and obtained financial support for an expansion from the city of Lewiston and from Benjamin E. Bates, the Boston financier and manufacturer whose mills dominated the Lewiston riverfront. In 1864 the Maine State Seminary became Bates College. The College consisted of Hathorn and Parker halls and a student body of fewer than 100. By the end of Cheney's tenure, in 1894, the campus had expanded to fifty acres and six buildings. Bates was already known for its inclusive admissions practices, classical curriculum, and commitment to preparing future teachers for Maine's public schools.

George Colby Chase succeeded Cheney in 1894. A graduate of the Bates Class of 1869, he taught English at the College for twenty-two years before assuming the presidency. A teacher-president in the old tradition, Chase taught at least one course each year throughout his incumbency. Known as "the great builder," Chase oversaw the construction of eleven new buildings on campus, including Coram Library, the Chapel, Chase Hall, Carnegie Science Hall, and Rand Hall. He tripled the number of students and faculty, as well as the endowment.

In 1919, at age seventy-four, Chase urged the Board of Trustees to select a successor who was "a man strong in scholarship, in his Christian character and influence, in business ability, and in warm sympathy with young people." That successor was Clifton Daggett Gray, a clergyman and former editor of The Standard, a Baptist periodical published in Chicago. Gray saw Bates through an era marked by vibrant growth and modernization, but also through the years of the Great Depression and World War II. By the early 1920s, Bates' now-famous debate team achieved recognition in international competitions. On campus, renovations were completed on Libbey Forum and the Hedge Science Laboratory, and the Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building and Alumni Gymnasium were constructed. Though the Depression placed serious financial burdens on students and on the College, Bates continued to thrive. In the 1940s, when male students abandoned college campuses to enlist in the armed forces, Gray established a V-12 Naval Training Unit on campus, assuring the College talented students-men and women-during wartime. When he retired, in 1944, Gray had increased the student enrollment to more than 700 and doubled the faculty to seventy; the endowment had doubled to $2 million.

Charles Franklin Phillips, whose selection at age thirty-four made him Bates' youngest president, was a professor at Colgate University and a leading economist before coming to Bates. Phillips is credited with bringing sound business acumen to the College and with encouraging students to link their own academic experiences with future careers. He initiated the Bates Plan of Education, a liberal arts "core" study program, and a "3/4 Option" that allowed students to complete their college education in three years. He also directed expansions of campus facilities, including the Memorial Commons, the Health Center, Dana Chemistry Hall, Pettigrew Hall, Treat Gallery, Schaeffer Theatre, and Page Hall. When he retired in 1967, Phillips left a student body of 1,000 and an endowment of $7 million. Phillips' legacy continues to serve Bates directly. In 1998, he and his wife, Evelyn M. Phillips, made one of the largest presidential bequests ever to an American college. The Phillips Endowment now supports student and faculty research fellowships, two endowed professorships, and other academic support programs.

Thomas Hedley Reynolds assumed the presidency in 1967. His greatest achievement was the development and support of an extraordinarily talented faculty, which brought Bates recognition as a national college. In addition to recruiting outstanding teacher-scholars, Reynolds championed better faculty pay, an expanded sabbatical leave program, and smaller classes. He also worked to include more women in the faculty. A historian, Reynolds' own experience as a professor at Middlebury College made him keenly aware of the link between great teaching and scholarship, and he did much to encourage faculty research and creativity. He also guided the College through a tumultuous period of social change, when students resisted the conservative sensibilities left over from the 1950s and demanded their own voice in College decision making.

Additions to the campus under Reynolds' presidency included the George and Helen Ladd Library, Merrill Gymnasium and the Tarbell Pool, the Olin Arts Center and the Bates College Museum of Art, as well as the conversion of the former women's gymnasium into the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and the acquisition of the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area. Many of the early twentieth-century houses on Frye Street that now accommodate students, a popular alternative to larger residential halls, were also acquired at this time.

Donald West Harward's presidency was distinguished by intellectual rigor, institutional self-examination, and commitment to civic engagement. A former philosophy professor and academic dean at the College of Wooster, Harward began his service as sixth president of Bates in 1989. His leadership was inspired by the notion that "learning is a moral activity that carries responsibility beyond the self." He challenged students and faculty to see how the College's traditional values of egalitarianism, service, and social justice created a moral imperative to connect intellectual life to the world beyond Bates. During Harward's presidency, students received greater opportunities to study off campus with Bates faculty or in College-approved programs. He secured funding to support student research under the direction of Bates teacher-scholars or at other institutions. He integrated more fully into student academic and intellectual life the senior thesis, the important capstone experience that has been a part of the Bates curriculum since the early twentieth century but is now a focal point.

Under Harward, Bates for the first time in many years reached out institutionally into the community of Lewiston-Auburn. Bates students and faculty built relationships in the community through one of the most active service-learning programs in the country. Harward helped Bates provide a national model of ways in which colleges and universities can maintain academic excellence and intellectual autonomy while they engage with and support local communities.

Harward worked to diversify both the faculty and its curricular offerings. He oversaw the development of a number of new academic programs, including eight in areas of interdisciplinary study. He expanded opportunities for faculty research and tripled the number of endowed professorships. More than twenty major academic, residential, and athletic facilities were built during his tenure, including Pettengill Hall, the Residential Village and Benjamin E. Mays Center, and the Bates College Coastal Center at Shortridge.

Bates Today

Elaine Tuttle Hansen became the College's seventh president in July 2002. Hansen is an expert in medieval English literature and in feminist literary theory. Before coming to Bates she was a professor of English and provost at Haverford College. She seeks to sustain and enhance the traditional strengths of Bates: open and intense intellectual inquiry; individualized student and faculty interactions in a historic residential setting; and a diverse community unified by the ethical principles of integrity, egalitarianism, and social responsibility. Her immediate goals include securing resources for financial aid, competitive faculty and staff salaries, increased diversity of the faculty and student body, technological advances, and new curricular initiatives. Central to Hansen's vision is an in-depth master plan, a process of assessment and strategic forward thinking that will help the College chart a course for many years to come.

The College's commitment to academic excellence and intellectual rigor is best-exemplified in its faculty. These men and women conduct vital professional lives that encompass scholarship and research, but they are at Bates because they are dedicated first and foremost to teaching undergraduates. The College honors its superb teacher-scholars through a growing endowed professorship program; in the last decade alone, eleven new endowed professorships have been established. Currently, 100 percent of tenured or tenure-track faculty members hold the Ph.D. or another terminal degree. Bates students work directly with faculty; the student-faculty ratio is 10-to-1, and faculty members teach all classes. Nearly 60 percent of class sections, excluding independent studies and senior theses, have fewer than twenty students enrolled. A Bates education serves graduates well and offers excellent preparation for further study and careers. More than 70 percent of recent alumni have earned graduate or professional degrees within ten years of graduation. The approximately seventeen hundred students on campus come from forty-four states, Washington, D.C., and sixty-eight other countries. The College is recognized for its inclusive social character; there have never been fraternities or sororities, and student organizations are open to all.

In their academic work Bates students are encouraged to explore broadly and deeply, to cross disciplines, and to grow as independent thinkers. The College offers thirty-eight fields of study (with thirty-two majors and twenty-four secondary concentrations) as well as opportunities for guided interdisciplinary study. Bates is one of a small number of colleges and universities requiring a senior thesis to complete most majors. The senior thesis is an unusual opportunity for extended, closely guided research and writing, performance, or studio work. A growing number of students collaborate with faculty in their research during the academic year and through the summer; each summer between sixty and eighty students receive support from the College to pursue research. Programs such as the Phillips Fellowship and Otis Fellowship provide students with distinctive opportunities for independent travel and study in locations around the world.

Bates recognizes the special role that international study plays in providing students with the perspective and the opportunities that lead to international careers or service as well as a sense of world citizenship. In recent years more than 65 percent of each graduating class has participated in a study-abroad experience, one of the highest participation rates in the nation.

Bates has long understood that the privilege of education carries with it responsibility to others. Learning at Bates has always been connected to action, a connection expressed by the extraordinary level of participation by students in service activities and by graduates in their choice of careers and dedication to volunteer activities and community leadership. Many faculty members routinely incorporate service-learning components into their courses, and about half of Bates students are involved in a wide variety of community-based projects with more than 140 public and private agencies.

Bates is committed to its home communities of Lewiston and Auburn, which together form Maine's second-largest metropolitan area, with about 60,000 people. The College intends that its many forms of engagement beyond campus be true partnerships, advancing mutual yet independent interests and honoring the integrity of all partners. The Donald W. and Ann M. Harward Center for Community Partnerships provides an institutional hub for service-learning, community-based research by students and faculty, collaborations with local schools and nonprofits, and participation in major community development initiatives.

Bates is located on a 109-acre traditional New England campus. Primary academic resources on campus include the George and Helen Ladd Library; the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, which holds the papers of the former U.S. senator and secretary of state (and member of the Class of 1936); and the Olin Arts Center, which houses a concert hall and the Bates College Museum of Art. The College also holds access to the 574-acre Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, in Phippsburg, Maine, which preserves one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the Atlantic coast; and the neighboring Bates College Coastal Center at Shortridge, which includes an eighty-acre woodland and freshwater habitat, scientific field station, and retreat center.

Consistent with its purpose of providing the benefits of a small residential college, Bates has limited its admissions and grown slowly, yet has also pursued an ambitious program of construction and equipment acquisition to support teaching. Additions to and renovations in Carnegie Science Hall and Dana Chemistry Hall have increased facilities for research-based independent student work and provide laboratory space for the College's interdisciplinary programs in biological chemistry and neuroscience. At the same time, study of the sciences has been enriched by the addition of several major instruments, including two electron microscopes, a high-field 400 mHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, several polymerase chain reaction thermocyclers for DNA and mRNA sequencing, a flow cytometer, and a mass spectrometer/gas chromatograph.

The College's newest academic building is Pettengill Hall, a 90,000-square-foot structure housing fully networked teaching spaces, faculty offices, laboratories, student research centers, and other facilities for eleven social science departments and interdisciplinary programs that were once scattered around the campus. Pettengill Hall creates an arena for intellectual interaction and an environment for greater application of technology in teaching and research. The building's design also fosters the connection between formal and informal learning; the attractive Perry Atrium is a flexible, accessible gathering space that encourages students to better integrate their academic experiences with life at Bates overall.

Student life facilities at Bates are varied and well-equipped. The Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building provides a versatile center for all-campus gatherings. The 1993 Residential Village, comprising three residence halls and a social center, integrate living and learning by mixing dormitory rooms, lounges, seminar rooms, and spaces for dining and campus events. The Joseph A. Underhill Arena, which contains an indoor ice rink and the Davis Fitness Center, opened in 1995, and two large houses on campus have been refurbished to serve as the College's Multicultural Center and Alumni House. In 2000 the James G. Wallach Tennis Center opened, with eight international tennis courts for varsity and intramural play. Several new facilities opened in 2004. The Bates Squash Center features five international-sized courts and a state-of-the-art photography system. The Bert Andrews Room, named in memory of a 1974 graduate, provides enhanced cardio and fitness facilities in Merrill Gymnasium. The Marcy Plavin Dance Studio, named in honor of the founding director of the Bates dance program, consists of two studios and a warm-up area.

The educational mission of the College is supported generously by a significant percentage of its more than 18,000 alumni who have made a lifetime commitment to their alma mater. The College's endowment provides resources for financial aid, academic programs, and general support of the educational mission. In fiscal year 2004, endowment investments of the College totaled more than $185.5 million and provided 14 percent of operating budget support.

The College's alumni, including members of more than thirty-five national and international alumni clubs, are actively connected to Bates in various ways. Thousands of alumni volunteers serve annually as admissions representatives, career resource people, fund-raisers, class agents, and alumni club leaders.

Bates is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the American Chemical Society. It maintains chapters of Phi Beta Kappa and of Sigma Xi, the national scientific research and honor society.

Statement of Community Principles

Membership in the Bates community requires that individuals hold themselves and others responsible for honorable conduct at all times. Together we create the educational and social setting that makes Bates College unique, with an atmosphere characterized by trust and mutual concern. Our actions must support our ability to work, study, live, and learn together productively and safely. We are dedicated as a community to intellectual honesty and to the protection of academic freedom. These values are fundamental to scholarship, teaching, and learning. We expect one another to maintain the highest integrity in all of our academic, social, and work-related undertakings.