On & Off Campus

Bill Hiss ’66 takes on the alumni relations program

Edited by H. Jay Burns

Hiss Appointed to Alumni Relations Post

Bill Hiss ’66 is a longtime Bates administrator who can spin tales from Bates’ 150-year history, then, a moment later, offer expert analysis of Bates’s place in higher education today. So it came as little surprise to campus observers last spring when a major reorganization of Bates’ alumni affairs operation featured Hiss, a member of the Bates staff for 22 years, taking a leadership role as vice president for external and alumni affairs.

In this new position, he will directly manage the Office of Alumni Relations (previously under the vice president for development). Hiss will also supervise the Office of Career Services, as well as the Office of Communications and Media Relations, home of Bates Magazine and media relations, publications, sports information, and much of the external Bates Web site.

Hiss, who served as Bates’ dean of admissions from 1978 to 1991, for the last nine years has served as a vice president overseeing admissions, financial aid, and Communications and Media Relations. President Harward said Hiss’ talents are ideally suited to the new challenge. “Bill’s work in admissions emphasized careful individual attention, in keeping with Bates’ traditional values, yet he also made Bates a national admissions leader through strategic planning and research. One doesn’t often find those qualities in the same administrator, and Bates is fortunate to have Bill bring those talents to bear on our alumni affairs efforts.”

Hiss says five key priorities will guide his work in the coming months and years (see also Alumni Council president Jamie Merisotis ’86’s column, page 72). “We will be working with the Alumni Council to build electronic communities with alumni; strengthen diversity in alumni programs and activities; improve Bates Club programming and coordination; increase connections between alumni and current students; and expand career services to alumni,” he said.

The Office of Alumni Relations has bolstered its staff, Hiss added, “and a new strategic plan will help Bates develop the same growth, success, and national visibility in alumni relations that the College has enjoyed with its enrollment and fund-raising efforts.” Hiss encourages alumni to “give me the benefit of your advice and comments: whiss@bates.edu.”

Hiss, who earned his Ph.D. from Tufts, has served on the U.S. Senate’s Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, a panel that advises Congress and the Secretary of Education on national financial aid policy. For 10 years he coordinated the advisory committee on college guidebooks for U.S. News & World Report. He is a frequent author and widely sought media commentator on higher education issues.

Around and Beyond the Quad

David Barlow ’79, and his wife, Ann Barlow, of Wellesley, Mass., gave a $1.5-million gift to support the study-abroad experience of Bates students, faculty, and alumni. The David S. and Ann M. Barlow Endowment for Study Abroad will generate around $75,000 yearly for 10 Barlow Fellows to study abroad, initially in a pilot phase. The Barlow Endowment will also support other areas of the study-abroad sequence, including senior thesis research, internships and employment, and faculty travel to sites and programs frequently used by Bates students. Among America’s 3,400 colleges and universities, Bates ranks among the top 10 in the percentage of students who pursue international study.

Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his advocacy of racial justice in South Africa, asked 467 Bates graduates at the College’s 134th Commencement: “How can we allow some of our sisters and brothers in so-called Third World countries to groan under the burden of unpayable debt?” He went on to say, “I dream of a time when all my children will say, ‘Yes, we will support and work for the cancellation of debt.'” Joining Tutu as honorary degree recipients were publisher and human rights activist Robert L. Bernstein (doctor of humane letters); contemporary dance choreographer Trisha Brown (doctor of fine arts); scientist and educator Shirley Mahaley Malcom (doctor of science); and psychologist and scholar Beverly Daniel Tatum (doctor of humane letters).

It’s almost a college cliche to declare the incoming class is the strongest ever. But, darnit, it’s really true! Dean of Admissions Wylie Mitchell and the Lindholm House gang pored over a record 4,385 applications for the Class of 2004 last winter. Offers were made to only 27 percent of the applicants, the most selective acceptance rate in Bates history. Bates had a strong admissions “yield,” as well, with 38 percent of those offered admission choosing to enroll.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) recently gave $1.3 million to Bates to support summer fellowships for students conducting science research with Bates faculty members; students conducting applied science outreach projects such as water-quality work for municipalities; the development of new science courses and teaching laboratories; and curriculum development projects between Bates students and area K-12 science teachers.

Proving research at Bates has its rewards, Thomas J. Wenzel, the Charles A. Dana Professor of Chemistry at Bates, received a three-year, $134,250 grant, from the National Science Foundation to continue his work on chiral nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) shift reagents. Wenzel’s research, often conducted with students, may be used to separate amino acid components, an important step in finding chemical compounds with undiscovered pharmaceutical value. Wenzel has received more than $1 million in grant funding in nearly 20 years at Bates.

Within the Bates library, the newly merged Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library are now housed at the Muskie Archives on Campus Avenue. The merger provides one-stop access to both the historical documents of the late Edmund S. Muskie ’36, former U.S. secretary of state and senator from Maine, as well as the 7,000 rare books, 70 manuscript collections, and more than 10,000 historical photographs of the college’s Special Collections. “We have a rich collection of historical College documents and photographs that reflect on the history of Bates, Lewiston-Auburn, and Maine,” said Kurt Kuss, curator of rare books, manuscripts and photographs. The merger also creates a formal Bates Archives program documenting the official administrative records and publications since Bates’ 1855 founding. “Having a college archives is a sign of institutional maturity,” said Chris Beam, Bates archivist. “It means the College recognizes its own history and is taking steps to preserve that history.”

On June 1, timed so as not to distract from the pageantry of Commencement, President Donald Harward announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2002 academic year. The College’s sixth president, Harward told the Lewiston Sun Journal much has been accomplished since his 1989 inauguration, but his to-do list is lengthy. “We have buildings to plan. We have profound Lewiston-Auburn community projects to achieve. We have noble goals, and we have the confidence, the will, and are securing the resources to collectively accomplish them. There will be no pause.” Citing Harward’s ambitious plan for Bates in his Goals 2005, James L. Moody Jr. ’53, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said Harward, “brought a vision of the sort of college Bates could become. Lots of people have ideas. He doesn’t just have ideas. He really sees what ought to occur and then he sees what processes are needed to get there. He’s been indefatigable.” Chief architect and chairman of LA Excels, Harward says he wants his tenure to be known as an era when Bates strengthened its cooperation with Lewiston and Auburn. In honoring Harward with the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce 2000 Public Leadership Award, Auburn lawyer Ronald Lebel said Harward, “has done something no one before him has ever accomplished: He transformed how this community sees itself and, in doing, has permanently altered the course of its history and destiny.” As for what lies beyond Bates, Harward said he wants to boost the time he spends volunteering. “I very much appreciate the support of everyone. It’s a tough decision.”

Shaken, not stirred: geology major Katherine Heggeman ’00 of Standish, Maine, discovered an inexpensive method for purifying arsenic-contaminated groundwater in Zimapan, Mexico, where arsenic-rich ore-processed waste abounds after centuries of mining. Heggeman found that when Zimapan’s water was combined in a vat with native crushed Cretaceous clay limestone and agitated periodically, arsenic levels decreased to a level safe for drinking. She also found that arsenic absorbed by the clay could be best strained out of the water by pouring the clay-water slurry through – surprisingly enough – two layers of denim cloth. Ever the empiricist, Heggeman (now a project hydrogeologist with HSI GeoTrans in Harvard, Mass.) taste-tested water purified with clay limestone and found the results to her liking.

By the end of the fund-raising year on June 30, nearly 49 percent of Bates graduates had participated in the record-breaking Alumni Fund, giving more than $2.3 million – a College record and an increase of more than 17 percent over last year’s Fund total. Overall, the College raised more than $18.5 million in 1999-2000.

Kara McKeever ’01 of Westport, Conn.; Amanda Smith ’02 of Santa Fe, N.M., and David Sharratt ’01 of Canton, Maine, each received a $5,000 Philip J. Otis Fellowship for research projects that explore the connection between the environment and spirituality. McKeever spent the summer in Browning, Mont. – the capital of the Blackfeet Reservation – investigating how Native Americans near Glacier National Park reveal their collective consciousness through a complex system of naming the landscape. Smith also was in Glacier National Park, interviewing locals about their common experiences with the environment. Sharratt traveled to the Cuzco region of the Peruvian Andes to observe indigenous rituals and interview Andean people about their religious beliefs.

Dana Professor of Art Donald Lent retired from the Bates faculty in June, concluding 30 years of service to Bates. “He was the driving force in the creation of the visual arts programs at Bates,” lauded President Harward at the Senior-Faculty dinner in May. “He brought together the students, the faculty, the spaces, and the programs. All of this did not deter Professor Lent from maintaining his own energetic pace of producing art and exhibiting it. His work is owned and exhibited by galleries throughout New England. Professor Lent’s enduring legacy is announced annually in the rich, imaginative, technically sound, and creative work of the Bates studio art majors.” Among Lent’s students in recent years was children’s book author and illustrator Matt Tavares ’97, featured in this issue.

Kristen Frederick ’00 of Columbia, S.C., and Weston Noyes ’00 of Salt Lake City, Utah, were two of 60 students nationwide selected to receive a $22,000 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Frederick is spending this year getting her passport stamped in the United Kingdom, Mexico, Peru, China, and Egypt, investigating the way past cultures understood time, the way they performed experiments related to astronomy, and the models they constructed of the universe. Noyes is researching the complex relationship between landscape, spirituality, and visual aesthetic of rural Himalayan people in Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan.

It was an excellent evening, or, rather, an Evening of Excellence, a May dinner event held at the Portland Country Club and hosted by James L. Moody Jr. ’53, chairman of the Board of Trustees. The evening gave those who give generously to Bates scholarship and research funds the chance to meet Bates students whose research was enhanced by philanthropy. “Investments in these programs are not only of profound value to individual students, but also strengthen our school’s community and deepen our wealth of intellectual talent,” said Benjamin Shaw ’00, who received a Hoffman-Mellon Grant, an Arthur Crafts Service Award, and a Vincent Mulford Service Internship and Research Fund Award for his senior honors thesis, Spending Maine’s Tobacco Settlement: A Case for Biomedical Research.

Jason Surdukowski ’02 of Concord, N.H., spent much of the summer in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and The Netherlands, researching historic and contemporary resistance to human rights violations on a 2000 Humanity in Action Fellowship.

Green thumb Kirsten Walter ’00 of Los Gatos, Calif., received the 2000 national Campus Compact Howard R. Swearer Humanitarian Award and the 2000 Gleistman Foundation’s Michael Schwerner Activist Award for creating the Hillview Community Garden project in Lewiston. The Swearer award recognizes outstanding contributions made by college and university students to their communities, while the Schwerner award recognizes five U.S. undergraduates for their exceptional achievement in citizen activism and solutions for social change.

Sarah M. Putnam ’00 of Cumberland, Maine, received the inaugural Marcy Plavin Dance Award at the annual Senior-Faculty Dinner held prior to Commencement in May. Ninety-eight alumni and friends of dance at Bates contributed to endow the award in honor of their friend and mentor Plavin, lecturer in dance and director of the dance program (featured on the cover of the winter 1999 Bates Magazine).

Kari Jorgensen ’99 received a Fulbright Scholarship to conduct research in Turkey on the transition of women’s roles in Islamic mysticism and Turkish politics between the late Ottoman and early Republican periods. Jorgensen is now working in the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Yemen.

Sze Wei Ang ’01 of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Kathryn Dutille ’01 of Lebanon, N.H.; Margot Fine ’03 of Scarsdale, N.Y.; Kristin Hines ’02 of East Granby, N.Y.; John Daniel Lichtman ’02 of Woodbridge, Conn.; Christian McTighe ’02 of Delmar, N.Y.; Jesse Minor ’02 of Wilmington, N.C.; and Mindy Newman ’01 of Atlanta, Ga., were named 2000 Phillips Student Fellows and received grants of up to $10,000 for summer projects in service-learning, career exploration, and research in places such as Ecuador, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal.

Stacey Kabat ’85 picked up the Clara Barton Humanitarian Award from the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay for embodying “the spirit of outstanding dedication to easing human suffering.” Kabat, founder and executive director of Peace at Home, received an Academy Award in 1994 for Defending Our Lives, a documentary film she co-produced and co-directed about the plight of battered women. In 1992, she won a Reebok Human Rights Award for her work in raising consciousness that acts of domestic violence are violations of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.

Geraldine FitzGerald ’75 of New York City and Jeffrey D. Sturgis ’69 of Minot, Maine, were nominated from the Alumni Trustee ballot to serve on the Board of Overseers, joined by appointees Karen Harris ’74 of South Portland, Maine, and Bates parent Carole Segal of Winnetka, Ill.

James F. Orr III, who serves on the Board of Fellows, was elected chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation in June. President and CEO of Boston-based United Asset Management, Orr was chairman and CEO of UNUM Provident Corp. in Portland from 1987 through 1999.

Wellesley President Diana Chapman Walsh, speaking at the annual Founders Day Convocation on April 3, suggested we must “live our stories well,” to forge community unity on college campuses. The stories of our own lives and our own communities are what “help us forge our identities and organize our struggles,” said Walsh, who compared Bates’ and Wellesley’s “stories”: Bates with its Baptist roots and Wellesley with its Quaker heritage, both founded by egalitarian-minded social reformers.

For the second consecutive year Bates was ranked among the most “wired” college campuses in the nation by Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine. Up from fifth last year, Bates was ranked the third most “wired” and received high marks for having 100 percent of its classrooms as well as all dormitory spaces and offices, most laboratories, and even the tennis house at the new James Wallach ’64 Tennis Center wired to the Internet.

The toll of the Hathorn Hall bell no longer marks the ebb and flow between classes at Bates. A new scheduling grid – “Maxiflex” – debuted this fall, allowing professors to decide not only the frequency of class meetings, but also the duration, as well. While the average meeting time for all courses remains three hours a week, various permutations of class duration and meeting frequency are greater than ever. The grid also features a 55-minute “All Campus Time” each Tuesday for convocations in spring and fall, appearances by guest speakers, or traditional “forums” to discuss matters of significance to the Bates community.