background

On & Off Campus

Edited by Rick Denison
Gomes’s Twenty-Five Years of Mirth and Meaning
The Reverend Peter J. Gomes ’65 has thrown many a memorable party.

But all those Harvard soirées combined could scarcely top the three days of festivities that brought together hundreds upon hundreds of Gomes’s friends, admirers, and colleagues for his “Silver Jubilee at Harvard University and the Memorial Church” last fall.

Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld (Harvard ’66, Harvard Law School ’70) showed up to read a special proclamation declaring Sunday, October 15, “Peter John Gomes Day” throughout the Commonwealth. College Student Dean Archie C. Epps, chair of the Silver Jubilee Committee, presented the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals with a silver punchbowl that will be inscribed with a verse from Psalm 40. It was big enough to baptize a baby in.

And at every hand, the air echoed with sterling phrases for a man who began his Harvard career in 1970 as assistant minister of the Church and became the first “Minister in the Memorial Church” four years later.

Harvard donned its Sunday best for the special late-afternoon Service of Thanksgiving for a Ministry that crowned a sequence of lectures, dinners, and services that began two days earlier. As gentle autumn sunlight suffused the Church sanctuary, the large congregation stood to behold the resplendent academic and ecclesiastical regalia of the participants and special guests who filed in from the Memorial Room to the front pews.

In his sermon on the intertwinings of persons and places, Lord Runcie of Cuddesdon spoke fondly of meeting Gomes nine years ago, when Runcie — then archbishop of Canterbury — delivered the Church’s annual William Belden Noble Lecture as part of Harvard’s 350th Celebration.

“After three days moving around with Peter Gomes in 1986, I felt that I had encountered Harvard,” he said, “And I have never been the same since!” Strangely enough, not even an honorary degree from Yale had quite the same effect, he confessed.

“Places, like people, only prosper if they are loved,” Runcie reflected. “And today, we have the chance to add more than tribute to this man, who has developed a very special ministry within the church. He has effortlessly grafted his Southern Baptist roots onto John Harvard’s Puritan inheritance…. In this place, for over a quarter of a century, one person has given of himself totally as a guide, as shepherd, as minister and pastor. Our gratitude is not so much a debt we owe to him and to the past. It feels — and indeed is — much more a blessing to be received in the present.”

Divinity School Dean Ronald Thiemann and Fine Arts and Sciences Dean Jeremy R. Knowles read the scriptural lessons. Provost Albert Carnesale brought greetings from the University on behalf of President Neil L. Rudenstine, and the University Choir under Murray Forbes Somerville premiered specially commissioned music by Charles Callahan.

Gomes himself addressed the congregation with characteristic wit. “In a holy place, one should ask for God’s forgiveness for all the perjurious statements that may have been uttered here in my behalf in recent days. And I should ask God’s even greater forgiveness for enormous pleasure in enjoying every moment of it!”

But the paeans proceeded apace at the Loeb House reception. A kilted bagpiper led the way to the front door. Just outside, Gomes heartily welcomed a stream of humanity running all the way back to the Church.

As guests spilled over into the ballroom, two more Harvard presidents chimed in at the mike. Former President Derek Bok credited Gomes with lending Harvard a much-needed sense of “the customs and the ceremonies and the symbols that bind us to the past and give us continuity and remind us of what we are a part of.”

Former President Nathan Marsh Pusey praised Gomes for helping to sustain Christian faith in difficult times, while College Dean Harry Lewis marveled at his wise eloquence.

If one word sums up all his time at Harvard, it is “happiness,” Gomes said after a litany of thank-yous. “I have had a happy life, and I have had a happy ministry.” Passing trials and tribulations have all taken place “within this larger context of happiness,” he said.

In closing, Gomes cited Aristotle’s definition of happiness. “It is ‘the exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope.’ I have rejoiced in vital powers — God’s gifts. I have tried to exercise them along lines of excellence, because this place permits nothing less than that. And by God’s grace, I have had a life that has afforded these powers scope and opportunity.”

Gomes has for years carried that quotation in his appointment book, “so that when I collapse on the street and people should be looking to see what my blood type is or whether I can take anything with sugar in it, they will find Aristotle on happiness.”

Joyous laughter lit up the already-brilliant scene. It was Gomes officiating at yet another marriage of mirth and meaning.

By Marvin Hightower
Reprinted courtesy of the Harvard University Gazette.

[Photo: Peter Gomes]

Peter Gomes ’65 hoists aloft a silver punchbowl presented to him on the festive occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of his ministry at Harvard.

Lewburn? Auston? A City By Any Other Name
Over the past year, the College found itself in the middle of an increasingly lively debate on whether Lewiston and Auburn should increase their cooperative ventures.Bates is serving as facilitator for what has become known as the Lewiston-Auburn Collaborative, a project that is investigating whether inter-city cooperation should extend to areas like purchasing and public safety, two oft-cited examples. The goal would be to save taxpayers’ money while improving the level of service provided to the public.

“The whole project grew out of a Bates Breakfast Seminar last year,” said Jim Carignan ’61, dean of the College. “Lewiston Mayor John Jenkins ’74 had just finished a presentation on the founding and growth of the two cities. The president of the Chamber of Commerce said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if Bates could help the cities expand the ways they cooperate?’ President Harward agreed to take on the job, and we’ve been busy with it ever since.”

Carignan, who has convened open meetings of officials from the two cities, is quick to point out that Bates is acting as an “honest broker” on the sometimes prickly question of municipal collaboration. “We’re not advancing any particular agenda,” he said.

The College seemed to go from facilitator to participant after a political-science class taught by Professor Doug Hodgkin surveyed Lewiston-Auburn residents on the issue of increased cooperation and, possibly, a merger. Another Bates political-science class, also taught by Hodgkin, prepared a forty-two-page narrative inventory of current collaborative projects, such as the municipal airport, the joint purchasing of police cruisers (which saved Lewiston enough money to buy an additional vehicle), and a merged 911 dispatch center that saved the two cities $150,000.

The survey results, showing a high level of support for increased cooperation, caused consternation among some locals who fear cooperation will ultimately lead to a merger — “Lewburn” or “Auston” were two names bandied about. “I suggest the next survey consider the possibility of merging Bates College with Bowdoin College,” read one angry letter in the Sun Journal. “Let us know what famous alumni like ex-Senator Ed Muskie of Bates and ex-Senator George Mitchell of Bowdoin have to say about such a recommendation.”

For now, the idea of increased cooperation and possibly a merger (for Lewiston-Auburn, anyway) is an out-in-the-open topic of discussion. “It’s off in the distance,” said former Lewiston police chief Laurent Gilbert, now U.S. marshal for Maine.

By early January, the twin-city mayors (Lewiston’s Jenkins and Auburn’s Robert Thorpe), buoyed by the show of support for the Lewiston-Auburn Collaborative, had taken charge of the project — even though the ultimate conclusion of this process could very well make their jobs obsolete.

Batesies Again Join Gay Rights Battle
The off-year election November 7 carried more than the usual interest on campus.

Mainers considered a ballot initiative that would have barred the addition of any more protected classes to the state’s human-rights statute, which currently does not include sexual orientation as a protected class.

Although sexual orientation was not mentioned in the ballot question, labeled “Question 1,” both supporters and opponents acknowledged it to be a referendum on gay rights.

The “no,” or — if you will — “pro-gay-rights” side won, by a margin of about 54 to 46 percent.

Question 1 touched a nerve at Bates, where many remembered the bitter fight two years earlier that resulted in the overturning of a local Lewiston ordinance barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. Several Bates people who had been active in that battle, including Erica Rand, assistant professor of art, and Celeste Branham, dean of students, again were prominent in this year’s equally heated campaign.

Branham was a leading spokesperson for Maine Won’t Discriminate, an organization that backed a “no” vote on Question 1. In that role, she engaged in a series of debates, several of them televised, with Carolyn Cosby, a conservative activist whose group, Concerned Maine Families, put the referendum on the ballot.

“I believed then and I believe now that Maine people said in a resounding way that they don’t want to legalize discrimination,” Branham said. “I can only take pride in a state that would vote in that fashion.”

Branham thinks the losing side will try again, although probably not for a couple of years.

“I expect we’ll be back at it,” she said. “But for now I want to bask in the notion that Maine people acted in such a compassionate way toward their fellow citizens.”

In addition, President Harward drafted a letter to the editor, also signed by presidents of eight other Maine independent colleges, urging a “no” vote on Question 1. “We speak as opponents to discrimination and supporters of human rights,” the letter said. “Discrimination, either implicit or overt, is contrary to our dedicated efforts as educational institutions.”

In the Lewiston mayoral race, in what looked for a while as if it might be a close vote, John Jenkins ’74 won reelection as mayor with a plurality of almost two to one over former mayor James Howaniec. Jenkins’s personal financial problems became an issue late in the campaign after extensive coverage in the Lewiston Sun-Journal,but in the end his personal popularity and what observers saw as his ability to “cheerlead” on Lewiston’s behalf were more than enough to carry him to victory.

“Hi, This Is Bates Calling”
Sometimes a human voice can make all the difference. That’s the idea behind the Bates Connection, an effort to contact high-school students who have expressed an interest in Bates and help them form a better picture of the College.

At last check, some 32,000 potential members of the class of 2000 had sought information on Bates. For some, all they know is that Bates rates high in annual surveys (like the one conducted by U.S. News & World Report) or that it gets good marks in college guidebooks.

After an initial inquiry, many students find that they and Bates are not a good match. But thousands more either remain interested or simply are not sure.

Enter the Bates Connection.

Phone calls from current Bates students to prospective applicants help both sides decide if the College/student “fit” is a good one. Research shows that college students offer unrivaled credibility as information sources and, as Assistant Dean of Admissions Dean Jacoby ’93 pointed out, a conversation between peers can help clarify confusing signals from both ends of the line.

During one five-day stretch in late October, Bates students (competing as teams for prizes such as movie tickets and pizzas) reached some 1,500 potential applicants, providing the human contact that can easily be lost, even at a place like Bates that prides itself on the personal touch.

Jacoby said that in at least one case, a Bates Connection call resurrected dormant interest. The prospect had requested and examined Bates admissions material, then discarded it. But after the call, the prospect’s mother — a little embarrassed — called the College asking for another mailing. It seemed her daughter was now very much interested in applying.

Learning Outside the Ivory Tower
The Center for Service-Learning at Bates, less than a year old, already has helped dozens of Bates students and professors form tight bonds with the surrounding community. Their efforts range from giving elementary-school students a taste of foreign languages to counseling young women in local shelters.

Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston, former director of the Office of Career Services, has been named associate director of the center, while Jim Carignan ’61, dean of the College, is the center’s director.

The center is an umbrella organization committed to creating a variety of contacts with Lewiston-Auburn. By promoting reflection and discussion of community service, service-learning goes one step further than traditional volunteerism. It facilitates the incorporation of community service into academic course work and helps students tie community service into their studies.

Rotundo ticked off a list of current and planned projects under the center’s auspices. Among them:

  • Students of Carole Taylor, professor of English, are interviewing elderly residents of the Androscoggin River Valley as part of a course in storytelling. Their stories are being recorded for posterity as part of the region’s Greenways Project.
  • As part of a practicum in teaching foreign languages taught by Dennis Browne, associate professor of Russian, Bates students are spending time in local middle schools, giving beginning lessons in such languages as Russian, Japanese, and even Hungarian.
  • Students of two English faculty members, Anne Thompson and Robert Farnsworth, are leading classes in fiction and poetry at area schools.
  • A winter semester course in mathematical modeling in biology taught by Melinda Harder, lecturer in mathematics, will include student work in statistical analysis for local mental-health agencies.

“Service-learning is an idea that pays off for everyone,” Rotundo said. “Our students get close to their subjects in ways that just aren’t possible in the classroom, and people in the community benefit from the brains and energy of our students.”

Rotundo, an at-large member of the Lewiston School Committee, serves on the steering committee of the Lewiston Aspirations Partnership with L.L. Bean, the Lewiston Legislative Advisory Committee, and the Lewiston School Department’s Family Involvement Committee. Director of the Office of Career Services from 1980 to 1986, she has worked and volunteered for a variety of organizations in the areas of career services and education. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College.

Working with Rotundo and Carignan will be Laura Biscoe ’84, volunteer coordinator at Bates. Biscoe will continue in her role of placing individual students in traditional volunteer settings “so that students can and do make a difference in the community,” Biscoe said. Last year more than seven hundred students volunteered in the Lewiston-Auburn community.

[Photo: Tom Wenzel]

Professor of Chemistry Tom Wenzel

Wenzel Is Council on Undergraduate Research President-Elect
Tom Wenzel, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, was recently elected as president-elect of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR).Wenzel has served as a CUR councilor since 1990, edited the fifth edition of Research in Chemistry at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions, and was conference co-chair for the Fifth National Conference of CUR and First National Conference of CUR Kids held at Bates in June 1994.

A resident of Auburn, Wenzel co-chaired the Auburn Comprehensive Plan Committee, a group of thirty-seven community members that reviewed the city’s operations from a zoning and land-use standpoint in order to establish public policy in Auburn for the next decade. The Council on Undergraduate Research seeks to strengthen science and science education at primarily undergraduate colleges and universities. It focuses its efforts on promoting effective and stimulating education for future scientists and on sharing with the public, through its members, new knowledge.

Daoust Joins Board of Overseers
Philip R. Daoust, M.D. ’66 of Boston has been elected to the College’s Board of Overseers.

A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Daoust graduated from Bates cum laude with high honors in biology and was elected to both Phi Beta Kappa and the College Club (now the College Key).

He received his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine and completed postgraduate training in pathology and laboratory medicine. He then joined the faculty at Tufts, where he currently chairs the Problem-Based Learning Program. He is also a senior pathologist and laboratory director at New England Medical Center in Boston. He is a past president of the Massachusetts Society of Pathologists.

Active in Bates affairs, Daoust has served on the committee that planned the expansion and renovation of Carnegie Science Hall and volunteered for the Boston Region of the current Bates Campaign. He is a trustee of the Boston Classical Orchestra and served on the board of the Civic Symphony Orchestra of Boston.

Into the Streets
A heavy late-October rainstorm failed to dampen the spirits of dozens of Bates students who took part in the annual “Into the Streets” community-service program.

“These kids were so psyched that some of them went out the next weekend to rake leaves for elderly people, since they couldn’t do it when they were scheduled because of the rain,” said Laura Biscoe ’84, Bates’s volunteer coordinator.

Raking leaves, painting houses, reading to children, and clearing trails in nature sanctuaries were among the jobs taken on by Bates volunteers, Biscoe said.

“‘Into the Streets’ is designed to get Bates students involved in community service,” she said, pointing out that many students who become dedicated community volunteers get their first taste of volunteer work through the program. Students had to make a three-hour commitment.

Local social-service agencies and institutions aided by the Bates volunteers included the Western Area Agency on Aging, the James B. Longley School, Rural Community Action Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, the Lewiston City Planner’s Office, the YWCA, the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project, Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary, and Trinity Episcopal Church’s soup kitchen.

Grant Helps Create Two New Language Professorships
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation has awarded Bates College $125,000 to help support two new endowed professorships in language learning and study: one in the Department of German, Russian, and East Asian Languages and Literatures and one in the Department of Classical and Romance Languages and Literatures.

Interest in foreign languages and cultures at Bates continues to be high: 48 percent of the Class of 1994 studied abroad and 23 percent of that class either majored in or had a secondary concentration in a foreign language. Seventy percent of all Bates students study a language to at least the intermediate level, despite the fact that the College has no general langauge requirement.

To support this interest and keep pace with student needs, it has become necessary to expand the College’s language programs.

The two new professorships will allow for more student-faculty contact and smaller class size, both of which are especially critical in language teaching. For example, Japanese at Bates currently consists of an eight-semester language sequence along with five courses in literature and many related East Asian studies classes in history, philosophy, religion, and art. This gift will allow for the creation of more seminar classes for advanced study and more core classes to increase the opportunities for students involved in the language department.

The Davis grant will be partially matched by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH recently awarded the College a four-to-one matching grant, which means Bates must raise $1.8 million in gifts and grants (such as the Davis grant) to receive $450,000 in NEH funds. All the money raised — $2.25 million — will fully endow the two new language professorships described above, as well as an endowed fund to support language programs at Bates.

NSF Grant Supports Study of Arctic Ocean Bottom
William Ambrose, assistant professor of biology, received a supplemental grant of $8,350 from the National Science Foundation to support a two-day workshop on sedimentary processes in the Arctic Ocean.

Seventeen researchers gathered to analyze samples from the 1994 Arctic Ocean Section cruise that collected sediment from previously unexplored regions of the Arctic Ocean. The two primary goals of the sediment researchers were to determine the role of the modern-day benthos (all the plants and animals living on the ocean’s bottom) in carbon cycling in the Arctic and to discover the paleoclimatic history of the Arctic Basin.

The research involved was both process-oriented and paleoenvironmental. The seventeen investigators attending the conference could tie together these two methods of study to understand the sensitivity of processes that have controlled carbon preservation in the Arctic Ocean basin.

Professor Ambrose, along with Lisa Clough (East Carolina University) and Ray Cranston (Bedford Institute of Oceanography), led the workshop and plan to produce joint publications as a result of the work.

Neuropsychology Project to Benefit from $20K Grant
Cheryl McCormick, assistant professor of psychology, received a grant for $20,000 from the Maine Science and Technology Foundation for her study called “The Role of Sex Hormones in Early Development on Hypothalamus-Pituitary Adrenal Function in Adult Rats.”

Professor McCormick will be aided in her research by Dr. Michael Meaney at McGill University who will serve as a research assistant and a consultant to her work. Professor McCormick plans to present the results of her research at the 1996 Society for Neuroscience Conference and the Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Conference.

Inaugurations
These members of the College community recently represented Bates at college and university inaugurations.

G. Kenneth Baldwin ’45 at the inauguration of William D. Adams as president of Bucknell University

Barbara E. Chick ’50 at the inauguration of Thomas L. Benson as president of Green Mountain College

Selma Bliss Clark ’41 at the inauguration of Richard L. Rubenstein as president of the University of Bridgeport

Richard F. Coughlin ’53 at the inauguration of David B. House as president of Saint Joseph’s College

George W. Deuillet, Jr. ’60 at the inauguration of R. Gerald Turner as president of Southern Methodist University

Lester E. Forbes ’42 and Marjorie Lewis Forbes ’42 at the inauguration of Patsy Bostick Reed as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Asheville

Stanley L. Freeman ’47 and Madeleine Richard Freeman ’47 at the inauguration of Ansley Coe Throckmorton as the new president of Bangor Theological Seminary

Alan C. Goddard ’53 at the inauguration of Evan S. Dobelle as president of Trinity College

Robert W. Goodlatte ’74 at the inauguration of John William Elrod as president of Washington and Lee University

Elizabeth Swann Jones ’41 at the inauguration of Patricia A. Sullivan as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Herbert T. Knight ’46 at the inauguration of Bernard Patrick Knoth as president of Loyola University

Lee E. Larson ’59 at the inauguration of Robert A. Oden, Jr., as president of Kenyon College

Jamie P. Merisotis ’86 at the inauguration of Shirley D. Peterson as president of Hood College

Ira K. Nahikian ’40 at the inauguration of Jeanne H. Neff as president of the Sage Colleges

Barbara Wallace Nicholson ’53 at the inauguration of Mary Ellen Jukoski as president of Mitchell College

Robert N. Stone ’51 at the inauguration of Mark S. Wrighton as chancellor of Washington University

Martha L. Welbourn ’75 at the inauguration of Douglas McKay North as president of Alaska Pacific University

Lynn W. Willsey ’54 at the inauguration of Douglas J. Bennet as president of Wesleyan University

Leonard Wilmot ’48 and Ella Loud Wilmot ’50 at the inauguration of John Strassburger ’64 as president of Ursinus College


Comments are closed.