Welcome and Introduction

It is a great pleasure and privilege to welcome you to the second presidential symposium, “Unswerving Values, Changing Times.” We are deeply honored by the presence of so many students, faculty, members of the staff and administration, parents, alums, trustees, members of the Cheney Society, and distinguished friends from the city and the region. Whether from near or far, we are unified in our gratitude to our most distinguished and special guest, Morris Dees, for being at Bates today. I thank all of you who helped make this event possible, most especially Leslie Hill, Associate Professor of Politics and Special Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity, and Bates trustee and parent Will Little, whose support for both SPLC and our college has been and continues to be so very generous and sustaining.

Today’s presentation follows on our inaugural symposium last year, “A College for Coming Time,” which so many of you were also good enough to attend.  In framing our first symposium, and indeed much of our work, we hark back to our founding principles for inspiration: It was the first president, Oren B. Cheney, who announced that Bates is no ordinary educational establishment, but one that strives above all to do the right thing, to educate forward-looking, innovative, independent and ethical young people. Cheney’s dreams—new access to their dreams for more than the fortunate few—became our reality in so many ways. Our mandate now is to carry his inspirational vision into the next 150 years, and with that in mind our symposium last year looked at changing demographics. We reflected together on questions about who our students would be in 10 or 20 years.  We asked how we might need to think about change and prepare ourselves today in order to continue attracting and educating the most talented and promising students of tomorrow. 

This afternoon we come together again to that never-ending task of changing and preparing ourselves to do the right thing, which requires not just reacting to what we think may be coming but proactively building an educational environment to house and nurture the capacities needed to sustain a thriving multicultural nation and a peaceful global society. This is not easy construction, done to ready-made specifications and quickly prepared for occupancy.  It is difficult to design and build not because we disagree, so much, about our values or the necessity of taking them forward. Rather, it is difficult in all the ways that living up to our ideals is always challenging. To say it is one thing, to do it is another. Growth is not always a painless process, as we all know from growing up, and sometimes it even requires saying good bye to parts of ourselves. And taking old values into a new future is hard because the future is, by definition, that which we cannot clearly see but are, like it or not, constructing.

To construct a future of ethical leaders doing the right thing in order to better the world: what will it take? That is the underlying question we turn to today, in the context of our unchanging commitment to the foundational educational values of justice and love and dignity for all human beings. To help us look outward and forward together in the direction that the Bates  mission compels us to go, we are most fortunate in having with us Morris Dees, a leader committed to building a structure that enables an important capacity, our legal system, to combat the bigotry and racism that threaten our future together.

And now to introduce our speaker more fully it is my very special privilege to welcome Bates alumna and Trustee Dana Peterson Moore.

Recruited to Bates by Cheney Society member David Boone, Dana majored in English and went on to Washington and Lee for her law degree. Until last Friday she was a partner in the Baltimore firm of Whiteford Taylor Preston, where she was a litigator who won many cases and awards, including repeated appearances in the list of Maryland’s Top 100 Women and a recent award for Leadership in Law from the Daily Record. She has served on a variety of boards in addition to Bates, including Associated Black Charities, the National Aquarium, and the National Bar Association, and she has chaired the Advisory Board for the Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine at Mercy Hospital. During her three years as a Bates trustee, we’ve all come to expect that Dana will ask tough questions and hold our feet firmly to the fire, even as she has the deepest loyalty for Bates and a great sense of humor.  Dana has become a leader and a friend for whose wise counsel and warm attention I am so very grateful, and please join me in welcoming her now.