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Inclusiveness in the 20th Century

During the 20th century, Bates brought greater diversity of experience to the campus community.


1920 – First coed outing club in the U.S.

The Bates Outing Club, founded in 1920, admits all students to membership, and becomes the oldest coed club of its kind in the nation.


1947 – Voluntary service during emergency

In 1947, out-of-control fires in southern and coastal Maine burn over 200,000 acres, leveling nine communities and destroying 1,000 houses. At Bates, nearly 300 students, about 40 percent of the student body, volunteers for firefighting duty.


1965 – Innovative short semester

Starting in 1965, Short Term — a two-month intensive spring semester — begins providing Bates students innovative opportunities for learning both on and off the campus. According to Professor of Physics Robert Kingsbury,”Students find themselves without the time to contemplate the ideas presented to them in various courses, or to follow up leads that suggest themselves.” Short Term provides that opportunity.


1984 - Personalized admissions review

The Bates faculty votes to make the submission of standardized testing an option for Bates applicants.

Since then, extensive research on the relationship between Bates students’ SATs and their Bates grade point average continues to support the validity of this decision. More than 20 years of data indicates there has been almost no difference in Bates graduation rates between submitters and non-submitters (0.1%, one-tenth of one percent) .

Further, research shows that this policy draws sharply increased application rates from women, U.S. citizens of color, international citizens, low-income or blue collar students, rural students, students with learning disabilities, and students with rated talents in athletics, the arts, or debate.


1994 – Commission on the Status of Women at Bates

Then-president Donald Harward charges a fourteen-member panel to address a simple question: What’s it like for the female faculty, staff, and students at Bates? The commission, chaired by Director of Athletics Suzanne Coffey, issues its report in October.


1990s – New academic programs

In the 1990s, Bates creates new interdisciplinary programs such as African American and American Cultural Studies to join longstanding academic majors that provide students a window into world cultures, including anthropology, religion, and Chinese, East Asian Studies, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish.


1990s – Off-campus study

During the 1990s, students receive greater opportunities to study off campus with Bates faculty or in College-approved programs.  The variety of academic disciplines, the different methods of study, and the in-depth experience of living in a different culture enhances student’s academic career and personal development.


1990s – Faculty diversity

In the 1990′s the College undertakes an important and focused effort to create a faculty with greater ethnic, racial, and gender diversity.

The great majority of faculty of color who were hired achieve tenure and become visible contributors to the College’s intellectual, cultural, and social life.


1995 – Civic engagement

Bates students and faculty build relationships in the community through one of the most active service-learning programs in the country. The Bates Center for Service-Learning reaches out institutionally into the community of Lewiston-Auburn, and is one of the first of its kind in the country.

The commitment to community partnerships is extended through the 2005 formation of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships, which houses the Service-Learning Program.


A position of leadership

By the end of the 20th century, other colleges have followed Bates’ lead in critical ways, abolishing fraternities and sororities, opening their doors to women and students of different racial, national, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds, and making standardized testing optional in admissions.


Benjamin E. Mays ’20

The widely admired educator, civil rights leader, and scholar graduated from Bates in the class of 1920, and went on to preside over Morehouse College. Mays influenced a generation of civil rights leaders, including mentoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose eulogy he delivered on April 9, 1968.


Euterpe Boukis Dukakis ’25

Euterpe Boukis Dukakis ’25, born in Larissa, Greece, blazed a trail for immigrants, becoming the first Greek-American woman to attend a U.S. college away from home. A brilliant and diligent student, she earned membership in Phi Beta Kappa, and remained loyal to Bates her entire life, establishing in 1994 an endowed professorship in classical and medieval studies.


John Preston Davis ’26

John Preston Davis ’26 fought for social and racial justice. He became prominent for his work with the founding of the National Negro Congress in 1935 and Our Worldmagazine in 1946, a nationally-distributed magazine edited for African American readers. He was the first among African American men to be sent overseas under the auspices of the American University Union to engage in international debate when his team met and defeated Cambridge University.


William Worthy ’42

A conscientious objector during World War II, journalist William Worthy ’42 reported for the New York Post, The Afro-American Newspaper and CBS News and, in 1981,won a law suit against the Justice Department, which has confiscated books Worthy had acquired while reporting in post-Shah Iran.


James Nabrit ’52

Lawyer James Nabrit III ’52 charted a path for the Civil Rights movement. In 1965, Nabrit and fellow lawyers with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund — working with Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference —drew up the now-historic march route from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery.


The Rev. Peter Gomes ’65

In 1979, Time Magazine named noted theologian Peter J. Gomes ’65, as one of the country’s most influential preachers, including two presidential inaugurations. Gomes, who served as a trustee of Bates, is a prolific author and has been minister at Harvard’s Memorial Church since 1974.


Trustee J. Michael Chu ’80

Venture capitalist J. Michael Chu ’80 co-founded Catterton Partners, which more than $600 million of equity investment under management. Beginning with funding such unknown start-ups as Starbucks, Chu now considers between 3,000 and 4,000 funding requests each year. As few as 20 receive money from him.


Author Christina Chiu ’91

Short story writer and novelist Christina Chiu ’91 — “Troublemakers and Other Saints” was a Book-of-the Month Club First Fiction Selection — credits Bates Short Term, a five-week unit of intensive study, with changing her life. An East Asian studies major, Chiu chose to conclude her Bates career with a creative writing course.


Corey Harris ’91

Acclaimed for his brilliant, blues-based exploration of African diaspora music, singer-songwriter Corey Harris was featured in Martin Scorsese’s PBS documentary The Blues, in which Harris traced American blues music to its African origins. In 2007, he was selected to receive a “genius award” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.


Lene Sene ’00

Lena Sene ’00 arrived at Bates from Dakar, Senegal. Today, Sene is an investment representative in Private Investment Management for Lehman Brothers, and in 2006-07 won appointment as a White House Fellow. “Bates taught me to be a leader.


Next: Bates Diversity Today


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