President's Column

President's  Column
Just the Facts

Six years ago, we initiated an Office of Institutional Research at Bates, recruiting Jim Fergerson from Hamilton College to direct it. Through studies and reports, we have learned much about the College; we have informed our strategic planning; and, given the research, we have identified areas that need attention or improvement. The College recently completed a study of the nearly 15,000 alumni for whom we have records. We also survey graduating seniors each year, as well as alumni celebrating five-, ten-, and twenty-five-year Reunions. From this compilation of data, here is what we know about you – the Bates alumni.

  • Our records indicate that more than a third of all alumni have at least one graduate degree after Bates, and nearly half of all alumni have attended some institution after Bates. For recent alumni, the percentage is much higher, with a 25th Reunion survey indicating that nearly two-thirds of the Class of ’72 have earned a graduate degree.
  • Of alumni with known graduate degrees, 80 percent are in eight traditional degree programs (M.A., M.S., M.Ed., M.B.A., J.D., Ph.D., M.D., and M.S.W.), with the Ph.D. or equivalent making up about 12 percent of known degrees.
  • Just twenty graduate institutions account for about 40 percent of graduate degrees on record.
  • More than a fifth of alumni with advanced degrees have studied for more than one degree. Approximately 60 percent of recent graduates are, or have been, in graduate programs. Perhaps most telling: no 1997 seniors thought that their Bates degree would be their final degree!
  • Among alumni for which we have recorded occupation categories, 29 percent work in business and industry, 22 percent are in education, and 10 percent are in health/medical sciences professions. Seven other fields each account for between 4 and 6 percent of the alumni body. Only 1.4 percent (155 alumni) are in the ministry or a related field.
  • In recent class decades, business careers have attracted more alumni than other areas, while a significant number are self-employed as consultants, business owners, or in private practice.
  • Ninety-three percent of those responding to the 1997 Senior Survey stated that they were either “very satisfied” or “generally satisfied”with their undergraduate education at Bates. If given the chance to choose again, three- quarters of respondents say they would still choose a liberal-arts education. Alumni five, ten, and twenty-five years out also report up to 93 percent positive responses to their Bates experience.
  • Among specific areas of the Bates experience, more than eight out of ten recent graduates said they were “very or generally satisfied”with professors’ attitude toward students, availability of professors outside classes, classroom facilities, and library facilities.
  • Among areas of concern for recent graduates is the climate for minority students in the local community and the need for a new campus center (which is part of the College’s building plan for the coming decade).
  • Of growing concern among recent graduates is their ability to repay student loans: a record 31 percent of those with loans expressed “major concern”about their ability to repay them, and a record low 43 percent said that they or their family were not forced to borrow money to finance their Bates education.
  • A recent study by the Institute for International Education ranked Bates third among U.S. bachelor’s institutions with the largest percentage of total enrollment studying abroad.

To these statistics, I can add qualitative truths: Bates alumni are successful; they have achieved in their professions and have contributed as leaders in their communities. They have raised and educated families and they reflect the accomplishments of talent, diversity, independence, awareness, and commitment to ideas and principles. Bates alumni also remain deeply and demonstrably connected to the College, through volunteer work (well over 1,000 alumni volunteering for Bates) and philanthropy (more than half of all alumni giving to the Annual Alumni Fund). While only brief headlines to longer stories, the above items of information characterize your importance as alumni to the strengths and qualities of the College.