Slide show: Bill Hiss ’66 retirement reception

“Whatever Bill sets his hand to, whatever he feels called to address, he engages fully with his full heart, mind and energy.”

At the Jan. 18 retirement reception in his honor, Bill Hiss ’66 acknowledges applause for his contributions to Bates. At left are his wife, Colleen Quint ’85, and daughter, Jessie. Photograph by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College.

Those words, crafted by Marcus Bruce ’77, the Benjamin Mays Professor of Religious Studies, sum up the character of service that Bill Hiss ’66 gave to Bates in the 34 years since his appointment as dean of admission in 1978.

Hiss, honored at a Jan. 18 reception in Perry Atrium, retired at the end of 2012.

Besides Bruce’s remarks (delivered by Admission staffer Uriel Gonzales ’11, as Bruce was at a conference in Paris on “Black Portraiture in the West”), speakers included Wylie Mitchell, who succeeded Hiss as dean and retired from Bates in 2011, Bates Magazine editor Jay Burns, who shared comments by former Bates Communications director Patti Lawson, Advancement Vice President Sarah Pearson ’75 and President Clayton Spencer.

Spencer praised Hiss especially for his work on Bates’ optional-SAT policy that propelled the college into the national admissions spotlight. As a forceful and articulate critic of standardized testing, proving that it is not a reliable predictor of student potential, Hiss linked the college’s tradition of opportunity and excellence with the goals of the Bates optional-testing policy.

Later, Hiss led an array of college programs as vice president (and, recently, taught the first-year seminar ‚ÄúLiterature through Cataclysm” as a lecturer in Asian Studies). He was also the unofficial college historian, a contemporary Harry Rowe.

Speaking from the alumni perspective, Pearson picked up on Bruce’s theme of Bates being a near-religious calling for Hiss, who is a preacher himself.

She said that “alumni want to know that the college is being loved and well-cared for, the way we loved it as students. We’re happy to know that we have leaders like Bill who take such good care of the precious resource we know Bates is.”

View images from the retirement reception on Jan. 18, 2013, in Perry Atrium, by Phyllis Graber Jensen:

10 Responses to “Slide show: Bill Hiss ’66 retirement reception”

  1. Orla O'Callaghan says:

    Bill, you were one of the reasons I chose to go to Bates. I came to interview on a Maine School day, where you probably had interviews scheduled every 15 minutes. Despite this, you and I talked for a long time. You ignored the calls from your secretary, and her insistent knocking on the door, as we just talked. A month later, I made an unscheduled visit to campus, when I passed by you on the quad, you remembered me by name. On the first day of freshman year, the newspaper took a picture of me helping my roommate move her stuff in. You came over to our quad the next day to see how we were settling in. You went above and beyond for me, and so many others. You were a real selling point for Bates. Thank you! I wish you luck in the next phase of your life.

  2. Nancy Mills Mallett '56 says:


    May you enjoy and thrive in retirement. You made so many contributions to Bates in varied assignments and should be proud of a great legacy. I was on the committee with you as you researched and established the removal of the SAT admission requirement. That alone was a milestone to be copied by many other schools.

    Best regards,

    Nancy Mills Mallett ’56

  3. John Spence '81 says:


    Congratulations on your retirement, and thanks for your many years of service to the Bates community! You left an indelible mark on many people at Bates–myself included–for your commitment, your passion, and your thoughtfulness. Thank you!

    All the best,

    John Spence

  4. Minoo Saghri says:

    Dear Dean Hiss (that’s what you will always be in my mind),

    When I think back to my days at Bates, it is always the people who stand out. James Reese, Wylie, Mitchell, Leigh Campbell and so many others. But what stands above all was the one summer I spent traveling across New England with you (as an unofficial admissions intern), visiting schools, observing you and handing out Bates material.It took most of the summer, but when I was finally ready, I began talking about my experiences at Bates. We are often asked to name one person who affected us deeply in our educational years. That is difficult for me, it is a close tie between you and Dean Reese. You both saw a reserved person and without prodding, gently guided me. I have a feeling that many others might say the same. I am forever grateful to you, as is the entire Bates community, for all the lives you single-handedly changed and all your years of dedicated work.
    May your next chapter be as good as the last.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Minoo (Malek Saghri)

  5. Sharon Williams says:

    Bill — Congratulations on your retirement, and a hearty thank you for all you have done for Bates. I still remember my interview with you in the Fall on 1981. It was by far the most personable and personal college interview I had. You have a way of drawing people out of their shells and making them feel comfortable expressing themselves, which is an extraordinary talent. Thank you for all you’ve done for Bates.

    Sharon Williams, ’86

  6. Dana Denault says:

    Hi Bill,

    My congratulations on your retirement from Bates where you have served with distinction for so many years. Welcome to retirement and the many volunteer opportunities that await you! I will often remember seeing you over the years at admissions meetings as well as occasionally on campus. My son, Dana, is now living in Marblehead with his family and enjoying his old hometown after many years in California. Hope to connect with you in the future.
    Best regards, to you and your lovely family.

  7. John Tagliabue says:


    Congratulations on your retirement.. As they say, when one door closes, another opens!! Enjoy retirement..


  8. Paul Savello '66 says:

    Congrats, Bill! Stay as busy in retirement as you did during your many great years of service to Bates!

    Wishing you happy years ahead,
    Paul Savello

  9. Sarah Stone '90 says:

    Dear Mr. Hiss – I still remember my interview with you back in the late 80s – it was my first college interview, a practice one in my sophomore year (and then had my “real” one with Wylie Mitchell). Mainly I remember how much fun you made it, despite me being a very shy, nervous kid.

    My oldest son is now a high school sophomore and I hope that his first college visit is as pleasant as you made mine!

    Thanks for all your years of service to Bates! And enjoy your retirement!

    Sarah Stone

  10. Carol Stone Beyna '65 says:

    Dear Bill,

    Bates should be eternally grateful for all that you have done for the college. I remember you from our student days, and I think it’s marvelous that you’ve been with Bates ever since.

    Congratulations on your retirement from your many Bates jobs, all done exceedingly well. Enjoy your retiement days!!

    All the best,

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