Dean of the College and Associate Professor of History
Read at the Senior-Faculty Dinner, May 22, 2003, on the occasion of his recognition of service, by President Elaine Tuttle Hansen.
In 1957, James W. Carignan left the confines of another mill town in a neighboring state, Laconia, N.H., to enter Bates as a first-generation college student. Though his involvement as an undergraduate was extensive and indeed successful in many ways, he had not imagined then that he would return to Bates nine years later with his Ph.D. in history from the University of Rochester nearly in hand and having taught at Kent State University and Kenyon College in the interim. He returned to accept the position of dean of men in January 1970, a title that was judiciously changed to dean of the College in July of the same year.
Jim Carignan’s deanship over the course of 33 1/2 years has been characterized by high energy and principled action. He has displayed an unwavering commitment to improving access to the College for those of limited means and exposure to the resources of higher education.
The dean has also been a passionate champion of diversity at Bates, extolling with eloquence the essential elements of diversity as assuring a rich and sustaining educational experience for all who study and instruct here. His own teaching reflected that commitment in his presentation of courses such as “Blacks in Bondage: Slavery in America,” “Black Americans in the 20th Century” and “A History of American Radicalism,” as examples.
Civic engagement, personally and as an extension of the ethos of the College, has been another hallmark of Dean Carignan’s tenure at the College. His leadership was integral to the creation of the Muskie Archives as a repository of the papers, artifacts and memorabilia of the former secretary of state and native son of Maine and Bates, Edmund S. Muskie ’36, and the associated ongoing political programming that flourishes in that venue. Not unrelated to this interest was also his creation of a nationally recognized service-learning program at Bates.
Beyond the College, Jim Carignan has served on more than 25 boards locally and at the state level, mostly in the areas of education and community development. All this has been accomplished in the context of a most demanding schedule as dean of the College, a position on the front line of relentless and significant challenges. His personal and professional involvement through the decades of his service has required great stamina, fair play, the courage of his convictions and unassailable integrity. In addition to these experiences, his work was further embroidered by certain personal challenges, such as receiving two heart transplants nine years ago. His survival of both medical complications and his deanship reveal an indomitable spirit, nourished and strengthened by a loving family.
Dean Carignan’s legacy as educator, innovator and civic leader is permanently etched upon the fabric of Bates College for the generations to come.
Jim, on behalf of your students, your faculty colleagues and your friends, we are honored to recognize you on the occasion of your retirement from the College and extend our deep appreciation, indebtedness and best wishes.