A million dollar gift honors the memory of Bob Branham.
Edited by H. Jay Burns and Doug Hubley
Gift to the Good
Million-dollar gift honors the late Robert Branham
A $1-million anonymous gift has endowed the Robert J. Branham Scholars Program to provide full, need-based scholarships in memory of the revered professor of rhetoric and director of debate.
“This is a special gift, reflecting the lasting impact of a faculty member who gave so much during his lifetime and the echoing generosity of one Bates student who is now providing for future generations to share in the legacy,” said Bates President Elaine Tuttle Hansen.
When Branham died in 1998 at the age of 45, he left behind a revitalized Quimby Debate Society. The achievement — it would be like GM Theo Epstein returning the Red Sox to their glory years of the early 1900s — won’t be lost on anyone who understands that debate in the late 1800s was one of the first ways Bates displayed its growing excellence. Branham, in fact, cultivated a contemporary appreciation of Bates’ debate history, writing the award-winning Stanton’s Elm: An Illustrated History of Debating at Bates College, published in 1996.
He was a well-known debate and communications scholar, but the coach-mentor relationships are his greatest legacy among alumni.
“No student activity at Bates…has nurtured as great a degree of personal self-discipline and of shared commitment to competitive victory, as has College debate under Robert’s leadership,” said Carl B. Straub, Professor of Religion and Clark A. Griffith Professor of Environmental Studies, at the time of Branham’s death. “One wonders how many of the recent generations engaged in this program will in time take their places alongside earlier debaters who have been among the most distinguished graduates of the College.”
One such beneficiary of debate’s magic was Joel Bines ’92, who reflected on Branham’s influence for a magazine story a few years ago. “I was a perfectly happy B student and a middling baseball player,” he recalled. That changed when Branham began encouraging Bines to take up debate. “Bob would tell me, ‘You know, you’re not living up to your potential. You need to try this. I’ve been doing this for years, and you will be really good at this.’ I didn’t need anything else in my life. I was working plenty hard — I thought.”
One day, Bines remembers, “Bob stopped me in the Quad and said, ‘We’re having a meeting right now, just come with me.’ I don’t know why Bob took an interest in me, but from the day I started debating, my life changed.”
The Robert J. Branham Scholars Fund will provide up to one full comprehensive-fee scholarship each year, with additional income used for partial scholarships and one $250 Coach’s Debate Prize each semester. Whenever possible, the scholarships will be awarded to Maine students, with preference to active members of the debate team or to incoming first-year students who have expressed an interest in debate.
A filmmaker and widely published author, Branham was an expert on the history of debating and in various areas of communication theory and practice, for which he received numerous prizes and awards during his career. He taught a course on making video documentary and collaborated with students to produce such efforts as Roughing the Uppers: The Great Shoe Strike of 1937, which won the New England Historical Association’s annual Media Award in 1993, and The Phantom Punch, about the heavyweight title fight between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston in 1965.
A Dartmouth College graduate, where he was president of the Dartmouth Forensic Union, he earned his master’s degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In 1974, at age 21, he was appointed an instructor in the theater and speech department at Bates (now theater and rhetoric) and director of the debate program. He received his doctoral degree at the University of Massachusetts.
For $185.50, Bates students save a ton of pollution
For the third year, Bates economics students successfully bid on and purchased a government permit for the atmospheric release of a ton of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a pollutant that causes acid rain.
Fifty students in two sections of “Environmental Economics” each put $5 toward a bid for the EPA’s 11th annual SO2-permit auction, hosted by the Chicago Board of Trade. As it has each year, the class will retire its permit.
“That ton of sulfur dioxide will never be emitted into the atmosphere,” says Lynne Lewis, associate professor of economics at Bates and originator of the College’s annual bidding effort.
The auction is a mechanism in the EPA’s Acid Rain Program, which uses a market-based “cap and trade” approach to curtail air pollution. “It’s always sort of cool to see the theory applied in real life,” says biology major Mark Thomson ’03 of Minneapolis.
This year’s clearing price per permit — that is, the lowest successful bid — was $171.80. The Ohio-based American Electric Power, the nation’s largest electrical supplier, won 99.9 percent of the 125,000 permits on offer. Bates’ bid was $185.50, fourth-lowest of the 20 successful bids.
Injured Student Goes Home
Injured in the Feb. 20 fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., that killed 100 people and injured more than 180, Philip Barr ’04 left the hospital and returned home to Lincoln, R.I., on March 21. Barr suffered first- and second-degree burns to his face and back, and more-serious lung damage in the fire. “The road to rehabilitation will test Philip’s willpower, but we feel confident that he will succeed, especially with the continued support of his extended family and many friends,” said his mother, Barbara Barr.
‘The Clouds Parted’
Five faculty luminaries depart the classroom
At the annual luncheon honoring retiring Bates faculty and staff, Professor of History Steve Hochstadt described how Drake Bradley, retiring as professor of psychology, gave him cues about the Bates fashion culture. “He showed that you didn’t have to wear a coat and tie,” he said with a smile. “You didn’t even have to wear a real shirt.”
Bradley, the psychologist who wears work boots, left little doubt where his priorities lay during his 30 years on the Bates faculty. “He was passionate, nurturing, dedicated, enthusiastic, challenging, inspiring, committed, and openhearted,” colleague Richard Wagner said. A former student who took Bradley’s course in statistics — a subject often disliked by student and prof — says his teacher taught “methodically, surgically. Finally, the clouds parted, and I understood.”
Also honored in 2003 as they conclude their teaching careers were Marcy Plavin, lecturer in dance and founding director of the Bates Modern Dance Company; James Carignan ’62, dean of the College and member of the history faculty; David Kolb, Dana Professor of Philosophy; and Ann Scott, Dana Professor of Music. Citations honoring their Bates achievements are online at www.bates.edu/commencement-2003.xml.
‘BURBS TO BUDAPEST A convenience store parking lot never looked as real as Associate Professor of Theater Ellen Seeling’s set for a Bates production of subUrbia, Eric Bogosian’s darkly comic play. After a six-performance run in Gannett Theater, the company took the production to Budapest, Hungary, for Short Term performances at the Contemporary Drama Festival Budapest and the International Buda Stage (the third Budapest Short Term in theater organized by Professor of Theater Martin Andrucki and Katalin Vecsey, originally of Hungary, his theater department colleague). Instead of transporting Seeling’s quintessential, suburban American set to Eastern Europe, it was digitally photographed and silkscreened onto a huge backdrop.
Debate Ranks 25th
“It’s been a great year,” says Bryan Brito, director of debate at Bates, whose 2002-03 edition of Brooks Quimby Debate ranked among the top 25 of the 68 best teams in the nation competing at the American Parliamentary Debate Association Nationals. In 12 out of 18 tournaments attended, Bates debaters had at least one team ranking in the top 10. The impressive record included appearances in England at Cambridge University, where Bates placed 12th overall in a field of 92 teams, and at Oxford University, where Bates debaters took 16th overall with 80 teams in competition.
A Cruel Place
Thoughts on the eve of battle from Marine Jon Custis ’91
Excerpted from a letter that U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Jon A. Custis ’91 wrote to Bates Magazine in March, just before leading his reconnaissance company into battle in Iraq:
I left Bates with a fairly liberal mindset. To some degree, I still hold many values instilled by Bates, but my life since college has been eye-opening and has left me with a somewhat harder edge. I served in Somalia in 1994, where I witnessed man’s inhumanity to man. I realized that we, as Americans, cannot live in the world as we would like it to be. We must deal with it as it is, including its harsh realities.
I’m certain some Bates students are prepared to protest; the campus had its share of that during Desert Storm. The desire to protest is part of growth into adulthood, and in itself part of the Bates experience. Make no mistake, though, from our perspective one cannot “support the troops” but not support the war. Protest is not an a la carte proposition.
As a parting note, I wish all the current students a pleasant, deep experience until they graduate. The world is often a very cruel place.
Custis’ complete letter is posted at www.bates.edu/x33137.xml.
BOOKS NOT BOMBS Two weeks before the United States-Iraq war began,
about 100 Bates students participated in the nationwide one-day “Books Not Bombs! Student Strike,” organized by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition. Gathering in front of the Chapel, Bates participants walked from campus (and in some cases out of their classrooms) to downtown Kennedy Park for a rally with other local young people. Moving with enthusiasm and determination, they hoisted myriad messages in opposition to war: everything from freshly painted pizza boxes (“Support the troops, bring them home”) to placards festooned with hearts and peace signs. One proud pair carried the American flag.
Standing Up for the Environment
At least for guys, it’s hard to miss the latest environmental initiative at Bates.
Two innovative no-flush urinals are now in business in the men’s room in Chase Hall outside the Den, saving Bates about 45,000 gallons of water per unit each year.
Jason Wentworth, the Bates environmental coordinator, got the idea for the new urinals after seeing them at a conference at Tufts. The campus reaction to the new no-flush zone in Chase has been “exclusively good,” he says. “I got a call from an Exeter student who’d been here for an Odyssey of the Mind competition. ‘We really want these in Exeter!’ he told me. And that struck me: We’d accomplished our goal of promoting an environmentally friendly initiative.”
Bates has three units so far — the two Falcon Waterfree units in Chase, plus a No-Flush unit in Cutten Maintenance Center — and Wentworth expects more to be installed. The Falcon Waterfree technology is unlike, for example, a typical Port-o-Potty, where you pee(r) into a blue abyss. The Falcon urinal has a perforated plastic lid covering a special, replaceable trap system containing a biodegradable sealant liquid. The lighter-than-urine liquid allows urine to pass through while ensuring an odorless seal. (Check out www.falconwaterfree.com/demoSW.htm for a nifty show.)
Wentworth has put up small signs — at eye level — above the urinals explaining the system and its benefits. “You have just enough time to read it,” he says. “While you’ve got nothing else to do.”
You’re a Batesie If…
An e-mail list defines Batesieness, 1990s style
Compiled and added to as it meandered through the Internet, the following “You’re a Batesie if…” e-mail list arrived on campus over the winter from Andrew Bisson ’97, an energy-company lawyer in Houston. It’s got a 1990s flavor (where, for example, are the references to Sadie Hawkins and the Stanton Hay Ride?) and is submitted for your approval. Or not.
You’re a Batesie if…
- You have subsisted solely on cereal and were outraged when Commons tried to remove it from the dinner menu.
- A North Face fleece vest, L.L. Bean sweater, and shorts are perfectly normal winter attire.
- You own so much North Face gear, you should be a stockholder.
- You know that the walk back from the Goose is much shorter than the walk to the Goose.
- You are unable to watch television without offering social/gender analysis.
- You have the ability to be a big fan of both Phish AND Britney Spears.
- You don’t know how to spell “Petengil.”
- You have never once benefited from the randomization process.
- You know that wearing a bandana is the international sign for “I didn’t take a shower today.”
- You think the napkin-board responder is a tool of the establishment.
- You’ve exchanged life philosophies with the Quality guy and Pablo.
- You went to the IMF/World Bank protests because you heard there would be some really good pot.
- You give nicknames to everyone.
- You know that the limp-wristed Bobcat is one of the best school mascots ever.
- You’ve said, “It is a great day to be a Bobcat!” on more than one occasion.
- You’ve been to more open forums and candlelight vigils than classes.
Watson winner Katharine Shaw ’03 can’t stand on the sidelines
“My first foray into the world of work was at a department store that was just systematically firing older people, mostly women,” explains Katharine Shaw ’03, “and hiring people like me — high school kids who would only be around for a few months, and they could pay us minimum wage, no benefits, and give us really bad schedules.”
Even so, Shaw, of Ithaca, N.Y., didn’t see workers’ rights as a social justice issue until she did an independent study in British labor history with Professor of History Elizabeth Tobin. That lit the bright torch that has illuminated Shaw’s path through her honors thesis, on Britain’s 1926 General Strike, and to the field research on the workers’ rights movement she will do as one of only 48 Watson Fellows for 2003. “I’m particularly interested in the way non-governmental organizations and labor unions define the problems they’re trying to solve,” Shaw says, “because that has a lot to do with the kinds of strategies that they employ.”
Shaw will visit Wales, Poland, and Thailand to study NGOs and labor unions — and share in their work. “I don’t think I could ever see myself as a completely objective person, standing aside and just watching,” she says.
Asked and Answered
Rebecca Bagley ’95 ponders another digital divide
Based in New York and doing business as Velveteen Films, screenwriter-director Rebecca Bagley Cook ’95 shot her first feature, The Gypsy Years, on digital video. She moved to 35mm film for The Chester Story —a love story with a cast headed by Teri Hatcher (television’s Lois Lane) and with Nick Edney ’94 as executive producer. The Chester Story was featured on HBO Asia and is testing in U.S. theaters this year.
Q: How has the advent of digital video broadened opportunities for young filmmakers? Is 35mm film still the highest standard?
A: 35mm has a magical ring — there is something impressive, exciting, and romantic about it. The reality is that a feature shot on video will ultimately have to be transferred to 35mm anyway, so my theory is, why not just do it right in the first place? That said, I am considering high-definition video for my next project [Shooting Livien] because it’s less expensive and progressive enough that it looks like film. Video has further opened the field to the independent filmmaker — at Sundance this year there were many films shot on video. I love that video is finding a home in the industry, but ultimately you have to decide if the aesthetic suits your needs in terms of storytelling.
BEST OF BATES On a chilly March morning, one day before the saddest Bates anniversary, 400 runners took part in the Morgan McDuffee 5K Run/Walk, raising more than $5,000 to support the Morgan W. McDuffee Fund for Safe Schools, a program dedicated to preventing the kind of violence that led to McDuffee’s death in an off-campus attack last year. Another fund-raising effort, led by his lacrosse coach Peter Lasagna, realized gifts from alumni and the Lewiston-Auburn community to fund installation of a scoreboard at John Bertram Field in memory of the late lacrosse team captain. “This will keep Morgan McDuffee’s name and memory a permanent part of the campus and the field on which he played with such passion,” Lasagna says.
A $35,190 grant to Bates from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City, Mo., will expand entrepreneurial career programming for students and alumni. Bates is among 52 U.S. colleges and universities receiving more than $2.3 million from the foundation. Part of the grant will fund summer internships, similar to the well-known Ladd Internships, at startup firms for students and recent Bates graduates. Alumni should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information regarding the internship.
BATES UMBRELLA Aligning Bates offices that work primarily with alumni, the College announced a reorganization of key administrative departments. Effective July 1, the offices of College Relations and Alumni Relations join forces with the Development office to create the Office of College Advancement, headed by Vicky Devlin (previously development VP), as vice president for College advancement. Moving to the President’s Office, Vice President for External Affairs Bill Hiss ’66 will work with President Hansen on alumni and parent communications, key media-relations efforts, and state and federal government relations, while continuing to oversee Career Services. “We all hope to address a perception that our alumni-affairs efforts and our fund-raising efforts have been separate and, in some ways, competing,” President Hansen said. “In addition, we realize that the reasons and the need to support Bates are neither widely understood nor agreed upon by our alumni, and this reality must change. What we will want to retain is recent momentum in Alumni Relations, made possible through increased resources and programs, as well as the devotion to Bates alumni and Bates history displayed by our alumni and development staff. Our shared goals will be to cultivate widespread alumni involvement, deep philanthropic commitment, and a keen understanding among alumni of the real position and needs of the College.”
The King’s English
English teacher Prudence Grant ’65 finds a Stephen King treasure
English teacher Prudence Grant ’65, retiring from Lisbon High School last year, was cleaning out her files when she came upon old copies of the school newspaper, The Drum, for which she served as advisor.
Inside an edition from 1966, her first year of teaching, were two stories carrying a byline of a student she remembers as “a goofy guy.”
His name? “Steve King.”
The two stories, titled “The 43rd Dream” and “Code Name: Mousetrap,” are believed to be among the earliest published work of Stephen King, the best-selling author who grew up in Durham and graduated from Lisbon High in 1966.
Grant subsequently sold the newspaper copies on eBay, where they fetched between $400 and $800 per copy. The stories recently came to wider attention through The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King, a CD-ROM that catalogs everything King has ever written.
Grant says she didn’t know what to do with the stories when she found them, but figured they were her property, so she put them on eBay with an asking first bid of $15. “I had no idea how many people would be interested,” she says.
‘We Loved Each Other’
Saying goodbyes to the Class of ’25
A story we heard recently tells why we love the Class of ’25:
One hot August day more than a decade ago, Ken Conner ’25 went blackberry-picking at his daughter and son-in-law’s farm on Streaked Mountain, a few miles west of Bates. He was in his early 80s, and the temperature was an even higher number, around 100.
On arrival he donned a heavy yellow rain slicker, “one of those top-to-bottom rubber jobs,” said the storyteller, and plowed through the man-high vines like a reaping machine. After the harvest was done, his family expressed concern that he would pass out from the clammy protective suit.
“Look at all of you,” he said with a clenched smile familiar to his friends and family, “you are all bleeding from scratches, insect bites, and scrapes and your clothes have purple stains. I don’t have a mark on me!”
That’s the way it was for the Class of ’25. Tough and persevering, yes, but interesting and downright funny. Many people look at a road map and see only the interstates; you always got the impression that the Class of ’25 saw the back roads, too.
Ken Conner of Auburn, one of the few surviving members of the famous Class of 1925, died April 25, and the blackberry story was told by his grandson at the memorial service. A few weeks earlier, two other classmates had died: Dorothy Clarke Wilson ’25, the Maine author and playwright, and Euterpe Boukis Dukakis ’25, whose spirit shone as the first Greek-American woman in America to go away to college.
The class produced many notable graduates, but more notable was the joy they found in each other. A loyal cohort of classmates attended 45 consecutive Reunions, every year from 1950 to 1995. “We just found we loved each other more as graduates than we ever did as undergraduates,” quipped Conner.
Wilson’s and Dukakis’ obituaries are in this issue; Conner’s will be in the fall issue.
The Tagliabue Holiday
An inaugural English department prize honors Bates’ beloved poet
The receptions and other events held in Chase Hall Lounge usually follow a predictable A to B to C sequence.
But when poet John Tagliabue, professor of English emeritus, was in town in May to see two students receive the inaugural John Tagliabue Prize for Creative Writing, funded by the Mellon Foundation, the brief ceremony had a distinct A-C-B flavor.
Perhaps that’s the way it was in Tagliabue’s classes. “His lectures sounded like one long poem,” remembers poet Pamela Alexander ’70, now on the faculty at Oberlin College.
Tagliabue read poems at the May event, including several from his New and Selected Poems: 1942-1997, and offered whimsical fragments of commentary on the way.
As English faculty member Rob Farnsworth concluded his laudatory opening remarks, Tagliabue got laughs by saying, “Oh, Rob, you know how I love to be loved.”
On his teaching style, Tagliabue said, “I love to sound off with praise…a way of lifting the self and the world…as if it’s a holiday.”
On the award, he said he was honored to have an award for “dilapidated me… momentary me.”
On poetry during a world crisis, he said, “All art is political. All art reveals values.”
Then it was on to the award itself. The English department, selecting the award from majors’ theses, went to John Sallay ’03 of Weston, Mass., for fiction and Justin Maikoff ’03 of Vorheesville, N.Y., for poetry.
Not Your Average Bates Club
Dan Pettit ’04 heads the new Bates Shooting Association
If Dan Pettit ’04 were a lacrosse player, he’d leave his stick in the corner of his dorm room. If he were a violinist, he might store his instrument in a locker at Olin.
But, per College rules, Pettit stores his recreational implement in a locked cabinet in the Security Office. That’s because Pettit is president of the Bates Shooting Association, and his sporting gear includes his own 12-gauge Remington shotgun.
A few hundred feet off the Bates campus, the idea of a shooting association would be met with a shrug. Maine’s a hunting state, and the local paper still carries photos of young Timmy with his first buck fall. But on campus, Pettit found that launching a new club that carries a whiff of gunpowder, not to mention conservative politics, Charleton Heston, and the NRA, was as much an exercise in political activism as it was a means to have some fun shooting clay targets over at the Auburn Skeet Club.
“Starting the association began more on the fun side,” he says. “But once we saw people’s reaction, good and bad, the political side grew.” At one point, Pettit and others chalked the Quad with a few Second Amendment-type slogans and got a few chalk comments back. “We haven’t really experienced any outright opposition,” he says. “Only some opinions on The Daily Jolt [a student-run Bates Web site], and some of our NRA safety posters got ripped down in Commons.”
In March, the club received $2,000 from the Representative Assembly, which annually allocates some $350,000 to student organizations. The money will fund memberships at the Auburn Skeet Club and visits to L.L. Bean’s Fogg Farm shooting venue in Freeport, and purchase ammunition and safety equipment, such as eye and ear protection.
At the Auburn Skeet Club, the Bates presence intrigued the regulars, says Pettit. He says it’s been fun to dispel a Bates liberal stereotype, such as when he revealed his Bates status to a skeet club friend.
“He said, ‘Just wait ’til I tell my wife!’” Pettit says.
UNDER PRESSURE An interest in diving led bio major Josh Lichtman ’05 of Princeton, N.J., to investigate hyperbaric medicine — the practice of forcing oxygen at greater-than-atmospheric pressure into body tissue to promote healing. Lichtman job-shadowed physician Robert Abrahamsen, director of The TotalWound Treatment Center at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. “He’s like a small liberal arts college, paying close attention to every patient.” In further pursuit of his dreams for a career in alternative medicine, Lichtman headed to Key Largo, Fla., during winter break — not for sun and fun, but to complete a hyperbaric medical training program and earn certification as a hyperbaric chamber operator.
Coach of the Year
Paul Gastonguay ’89 was honored as the New England Small College Athletic Conference women’s tennis Coach of the Year after he guided the women’s team to an overall fall-spring record of 6-8 and an eighth-place NESCAC finish. Last year, his first as head coach of the women’s program, the team was 2-6. Gastonguay has coached the men’s program for seven years.