Since 1855, Bates College has been dedicated to the emancipating potential of the liberal arts. Bates educates the whole person through creative and rigorous scholarship in a collaborative residential community. With ardor and devotion — Amore ac Studio — we engage the transformative power of our differences, cultivating intellectual discovery and informed civic action. Preparing leaders sustained by a love of learning and a commitment to responsible stewardship of the wider world, Bates is a college for coming times.
The Foundations of the College
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, sex, 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 colleges, the founders held fast to their commitment to admit both men and women: Bates was New England's first coeducational college and one of the first coeducational colleges in the United States.
The Reverend Oren Burbank Cheney, a Freewill Baptist minister, a teacher, and an abolitionist, is honored as the founder and first president of Bates. And as with many New England institutions, religion played a vital role in the college's founding, writes Professor Emeritus of History, James S. Leamon '55 in the essay "Enduring Values in a Changing World," published on the occasion of the college's 150th anniversary in 2005:
The inclusive nature of the college's founding philosophy has guided, enriched, and strengthened the institution for more than 150 years.
A. Clayton Spencer was appointed the eighth president of the college in 2012. In coming years, Spencer says, "To engage the large, complex, dizzying forces that are coming at us, we have to stand somewhere, and we have to stand somewhere firm." That solid foundation comprises Bates' founding values, its location, and its reputation, qualities—in particular, Bates' bedrock egalitarianism—that confer the institution's significance and distinctiveness and are prized by students. Bates, she said, practices "not a vague kind of politically correct inclusiveness, but instead the inclusiveness that says, 'We are here to encounter each other as humans with potential, with gifts.' The greatest opportunity that anybody can have as a human is the opportunity to realize those gifts. That's in the fabric of who we are."
The faculty exemplifies the college's commitment to academic excellence and intellectual rigor. Faculty members' professional lives encompass scholarship and research, but they are at Bates because they are dedicated first and foremost to teaching undergraduates. As of October 2012, 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. More than 65 percent of class sections, excluding independent studies, 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 1,750 students on campus and 250 studying abroad come from forty-four states, districts, and territories and seventy-one 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.
The Curriculum and Student Scholarship
In their academic work Bates students are encouraged to explore broadly and deeply, to cross disciplines, and to grow as independent thinkers. Bates is one of a small number of colleges and universities requiring a senior thesis or senior project to graduate. The senior thesis provides an opportunity for extended, closely guided research and writing, performance, or studio work. Many students launch their scholarly careers by collaborating with faculty in their research during the academic year and through the summer. 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. About 65 percent of students study abroad for a semester or longer during their time at Bates, one of the highest rates in the nation.
A core value of the college holds that liberal education includes the development of social responsibility, and Bates is a national leader in community-engaged learning and research. A Bates education seeks to connect learning to action, a connection expressed by high levels of student participation in academic and volunteer work in the community as well as by graduates' careers and community leadership. Many faculty members routinely incorporate community-based learning and research into their courses, and about half of Bates students are involved in a wide variety of community-based projects. Bates is committed to its home communities of Lewiston and Auburn, together constituting Maine's second-largest urban area, which provide a valued setting that enriches Bates' educational mission and social life. The college intends its many forms of engagement beyond campus to be true partnerships, drawing on the strengths of all partners for mutual benefit.
Bates is located on a 109-acre traditional New England campus at the center of which is the verdant historic Quad. Academic and cultural resources on campus include the George and Helen Ladd Library; the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library; the Olin Arts Center, which houses a concert hall and the Bates College Museum of Art; Schaeffer Theatre and two smaller theatrical venues; the Peter J. Gomes Chapel; and an extensive athletics complex. The college also holds access to the 574-acre Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, in Phippsburg, Maine, which includes coastal wetlands and preserves one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the Atlantic coast. The neighboring Bates College Coastal Center at Shortridge includes an eighty-acre woodland and freshwater habitat.
Alumni and Support for Bates
The educational mission of the college is supported generously by a significant percentage of over 24,000 alumni who have made a lifetime commitment to their alma mater. The college's alumni, living in all fifty states and around the world, remain actively connected to Bates in various ways. Thousands of alumni volunteers serve annually as admission representatives, career resources, fundraisers, reunion volunteers, and regional leaders. The college's endowment provides resources for financial aid, academic programs, faculty and student research, and general support of the educational mission. At the close of the 2012 fiscal year, the college's endowment investments were valued at over $216 million, and the endowment supported 11.5% of the college's operating budget.
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, the nation's oldest academic honor society 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.