Alumni help

Bates alumni all over the world want to help you

September 4, 2001 Matriculation Dinner for First Year Students
Remarks by William C. Hiss ’66, Vice President for External and Alumni Affairs

At Bates, there was a tradition of the “Stanton Ride”.  Uncle Johnny Stanton was Professor of Greek and Rhetoric at Bates from the Civil War until World War I.  Each fall he took the new first year class out on a horse and wagon ride—so the “ride”—and told them the history of Bates.  It was pretty easy for him to do this, as he was there for all but the first ten years of the college’s history.  It is also clear from the record of those years that for many of those students, Uncle  Johnny Stanton became a friend.

Telling the Bates history is now a little tougher.  You will be the college’s sesquicentennial class, graduating in 2005—our congratulations.  However, it means that the college now has 150 years of history to tell.   So I will save that for another time, for fun, with lots of slides, and do it for those who would like to come perhaps over to dinner some night.

I will rather look forward, with words of welcome and an offer.  The Alumni Association of Bates is 16,000 strong, and their first gift to you—the first gift of many—is on the table, a hot drink mug with a quote from Dr. Mays.  You will use it a lot: like a great deal of what Bates has to offer, it is simultaneously stirring and useful, wrapped in a layer of modesty and practicality.  The quote from Dr. Mays bears some thinking.  It has power beyond a thousand cups of coffee to keep you going.  So wrap those words around you, like the words wrap the mug.

You meet your faculty tomorrow morning.  They will become friends, many of them: demanding, cheerful, questioning, but also friends.  They have come here for the same reasons you have, to fire at close range and to do wonderful work—with you!  One of my former advisees, Christian Nauvel, from Mauritius, today handed me his research report of a summer’s research work with me, on the alumni outcomes of those who entered Bates without submitting their testing.  It’s a fine piece of work: subtle, thoughtful, well buttressed with data, making sense of what was previously unknown or a jumble of information.  I wish you great research and exploration with your faculty, parallel to Christian’s.

But behind the faculty lie the alumni, some of whom will also become your friends, help you test and explore careers, welcome you to their homes and their cities, and support you with their philanthropy.  The Alumni Relations office, the Career Services office, and the Development office at Bates are linked in a lot of their work: they will help you find the best version of the rest of your life.  Alumni can help you test a career, find a job, or find service to your community, nation or world.  You in turn will take up that mantle, to help and support the college, and the Bates students who come behind you.

Last June we mailed to a graduating senior with a passion for Spanish and Caribbean studies a roster of all of the alumni in the District of Columbia and then matched him up with an alum who directs the Council on the Hemispheres there.  The brand new alumnus e-mailed me last week—you could hear the excitement in his voice even in the e-mail—to say, “He wants to hire me!”  I won’t offer you a guarantee of a job with an alumnus after graduation.  But I will offer you on behalf of the alumni body the friendship and help of thousands of alumni all over the world who love Bates and want to help you.

Go now to meet your new friends: your classmates, your faculty, the staff and the alumni of Bates.  Go with our blessings on your heads.