Alumni Council Newsletter: Fall 2013
Dear Fellow Bates Alumni,
Greetings from our homes to yours! We hope the articles in this edition of the Bates Alumni Council Newsletter inform, intrigue and amuse you. From observations from a younger member on his fifth-year reunion to a report on the informal gatherings of the youthful Class of 1957, and from news of environmental research at Bates–Morse Mountain to a look at alumni who call the Lewiston-Auburn area home, this issue touches on much of what Bates means to us.
Getting back on campus is always reinvigorating for us. We want to encourage you to return with us to Homecoming on November 1–2. Bates will have a full schedule of cultural and intellectual activities, as well as sporting events (yes, including the Bowdoin-Bates gridiron matchup). For details, see bates.edu/alumni/homecoming. For those of you who returned for Reunion Weekend, kudos. It was a fun-filled celebration and hugely attended. The programming presented by faculty, students and alumni was memorable and thought-provoking.
When alumni gather on campus in significant numbers, it provides a wonderful opportunity to honor alumni for their unique efforts. For those who did not attend Reunion or missed the Web coverage at bates.edu/reunion/reunion-coverage, passion for Bates and outstanding service to their communities earned two alumni top honors from the Alumni Council this past June. Julia Sleeper ’08 received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award, and Brad Adams ’92 was the recipient of the Stangle Award for Distinguished Service to the Bates Community. Both were nominated by fellow alumni and selected by Alumni Council members from a competitive pool as part of our annual awards recognition process. Two additional Alumni Council awards will be given out to alumni during Homecoming. Come on up!
At your service,
The Bates College Alumni Council
Rob Cramer ’79, P’13, ’P14
Alumni Council member
Born in 1957, I never considered that year extraordinary in any real way. Sure, John Lennon and Paul McCartney met in 1957. And yes, Elvis bought Graceland in 1957. And even one of the all-time great musicals, West Side Story, was first staged on Broadway in 1957. But none of these events, not even the first production by Wham-O of the Frisbee in 1957 (take that, Ultimate Frisbee-ers!) made the year special in my mind. But then I met the Bates College Class of 1957, clearly one of the most “together” classes the college has ever produced.
The Class of ’57 like each other so much that they do not wait five years for reunions. They make their own mini-reunion — every month. They have monthly luncheons in Dedham, Mass., organized by class email guru Doug Campbell ’57 and his college roommate Dick Pierce ’57. I was privileged to attend their last monthly luncheon at Joe’s American Bar & Grill in Dedham, my hometown. The luncheon included 15 Bates grads, spouses, surviving spouses and friends, one from as far away as Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Doug was kind enough to invite me when he noticed in the last Alumni Council newsletter that I was from Dedham. Naturally, I had to come and watch fellow Bobcats reconnect and socialize. I expected that as an interloper and current parent, P’13 and P’14, I might be peppered with questions about Bates today. Instead after hearing how they all loved Nancy Cable and now love Clayton Spencer, I was regaled with stories about their Bates, a place with some similarities but some very real differences from my Bates.
All this is a far cry from new Commons, which the ’57ers view as a fancy restaurant!
Bates was, of course, coed in 1957, but the opposite sexes couldn’t dine together except for just once a week — on Sundays — or with special permission. Rand Hall held the female dining hall, the room I remember hosting numerous parties when I was a proctor in Rand. All this is a far cry from new Commons, which the ’57ers view as a fancy restaurant!
I learned about shoe dances — Cinderella-like re-enactments for the men to find their princesses — and, indeed, I was told that in 1957 the shoe dance led to one successful marriage. I learned that Bates offered a five-year nursing major in the day. There was also the annual Bates Mayoralty Campaign, a three-day extravaganza held each May. Finally, I learned about the Cultural Heritage module, a block of the curriculum that was praised by the ’57ers as essential, and as Dudley Moses told me, it taught him how to “dance on the equilibrium!”
I wished I could have talked to more of the ’57ers at the long table, but I was situated toward one end. We broke for a picture, and when I drove away I was truly struck by their togetherness. How they came from near and far and how they genuinely enjoyed being together again. How they arrange reunions all the time away from Bates. I hope to attend another Dedham luncheon soon, learn more and share their togetherness; after all, isn’t this what Bates is all about…being together?
What a great class!!!
Jerry Donahoe ’82
Alumni Council member
Some of our nation’s most exciting environmental research on climate change is taking place at the Bates–Morse Mountain Conservation Area (BMMCA) in Phippsburg. These 574 acres of coastal forest, marsh and shoreline are a superb natural environment for students, professors and visiting scientists to conduct cutting-edge research and apply their knowledge to better understand and protect our environment. On a neighboring 80-acre parcel, Bates’ Shortridge property (once a family residence) serves as a field station and retreat center for students and faculty alike. Both Phippsburg locations provide superb learning opportunities as well as potential for further development for educational purposes.
One fascinating research effort and senior thesis by Margaret Pickoff ’13 on “blue carbon” (the carbon stored in salt marshes and mangroves) has received international attention. The conclusions of this study are remarkable. Based on Pickoff’s research, the Sprague Marsh at BMMCA sequesters as much carbon annually as 30,000 cars emit in a year. These findings are part of the growing evidence showing that coastal wetlands may store, or sequester, more carbon than any other ecosystem type on the planet. Pickoff’s research at BMMCA was the basis of a presentation by Associate Professor of Geology Beverly Johnson at an international “blue carbon” conference in Australia and was shared with Conservation International; an environmental organization based in Washington, D.C. Professor Johnson continued this research during summer 2013.
Professor of Geology Mike Retelle is continuing his work on sediment transport (shifting sands and erosion), which is happening at significant levels especially at nearby Popham Beach. His research looks at a number of factors such as sea level rise, increasingly stronger storms and natural cycles of sediment transport.
One of the most exciting research initiatives is the installation of Sediment Elevation Tables (SETs) in Sprague Marsh by Bates researchers. SETs have been installed throughout the nation (particularly by federal agencies) as well as in Downeast and southern Maine. These SETs are the first to be installed in midcoast Maine. The SETs will provide long-term data on the way in which the marsh is responding to sea level rise — whether it is accreting (hence, resilient) or drowning. The research here will certainly contribute to the national discussion.
Another study is part of an international survey of migratory birds.
Last year, four academic departments at Bates (Geology, Biology, Environmental Studies and Education) used BMMCA for semester and Short Term courses. Besides hosting our own students and faculty, BMMCA is shared with other academic institutions and state government entities for a number of other research projects such as those that concern population and habitat trends of salt marsh and shore birds. One current study looks at habitat from Maine to Delaware and is explicitly about sea level rise. Another study is part of an international survey of migratory birds.
It’s a source of pride that the environmental research at BMMCA is contributing to the larger efforts to understand the changing coastal environmental systems! And we aren’t the only liberal arts college in Maine with coastal property; Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center situated on 118 acres along Harpswell Sound has state-of-the-art facilities for coastal research and teaching that include both a marine biological laboratory and a terrestrial laboratory. Bowdoin’s coastal property and facilities are widely used, particularly by its Environmental Studies and Earth and Oceanographic Science departments, which offer minors and majors.
The Bates–Morse Mountain Conservation Area is a gift that can keep on giving. It is an incredible resource to protect, steward and use in our efforts to better understand nature’s patterns and humankind’s effect on our natural environment. Bates students and faculty are able to expand their knowledge by drawing upon past research at the site and developing their own current research, observing and measuring nature firsthand, analyzing data and presenting findings. Brainstorming and making discoveries!
Directing and nurturing talented minds to help address society’s environmental concerns is a role of increasing importance for our nation’s academic institutions. Our Phippsburg work shows that we are living our commitment to responsible stewardship of the wider world. That’s a mission to be proud of.
For her senior thesis, Margaret Pickoff ’13, shown here with Geology major David Harning ’13 at Bates–Morse Mountain Conservation Area, samples peat cores from the Sprague Marsh to determine the amount of “blue carbon” stored in marine vegetation. Pickoff says she undertook the research to help emphasize the “critical function of marsh ecosystems, as global climate change and sea level rise continue to threaten the health of the planet.”
Elaine Makas ’67, Townie by Choice
Alumni Council member
We all know that Bates has made significant contributions to Lewiston-Auburn, but we sometimes forget how much these communities have contributed to Bates — particularly the contribution of its local citizenry, henceforth known in this article as “the Townies.” Clearly, Bates could not function without its loyal staff and faculty, most of who live nearby.
And a segment of these Townies are L-A citizens who attended Bates. These alumni grew up here and currently reside here, “Townies by Birth” (or TBBs). There are also “Townies by Choice” (or TBCs) — those Bates alumni from “away” but who decided to stay in the area after graduation or return some time later (I am a proud member of this group.) The TBBs and the TBCs together include more than 850 Batesies. This article will acknowledge only a very small number of the many TBBs who have made significant contributions to their community and, by extension, to their alma mater. I will save an article on the TBCs for a future newsletter!
The TBBs include alumni who have stayed in the area for most, if not all, of their lives. Irving Isaacson TBB’36, for example, left his hometown of Lewiston only briefly to attend law school and to serve in the U.S. Army, during which time, incidentally, he met his wife, Judy Magyar Isaacson, who became a TBC’65. Irving is a well-respected local attorney who continues to work each day and to contribute generously to the local community. His cousin, Phil TBB’47, sadly, passed away recently. Phil extended his family’s tradition of active involvement in the community, working as an attorney, becoming a successful author on art and architecture, and being a dedicated patron of the arts.
Dot Kern TBB’42, is now retired after many years as the very knowledgeable and popular librarian at Edward Little High School in Auburn. She still lives in the house in Auburn where she lived as a child.
Barbara Randall ’46 (almost a TBB, having moved with her family to Lewiston at age 5), served as dean of women at Bates, then as a teacher at Edward Little. Barbara continues to be a strong supporter of the arts and all things local.
Dom Casavant TBB’52 and Roland Marcotte TBB’52 were classmates as well as friends, and they followed remarkably similar career paths. Both taught physics at the college level, Dom at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, and Roland at what is now Southern Maine Community College in Portland. In addition, both men returned to their hometown area upon retirement. Dom pursued a second interest and set of skills while in Vermont, serving as mayor of Winooski and as a state legislator.
Jeff’s father, mother, four aunts and uncles, and two cousins attended Bates!
Jeff Sturgis TBB’69 lives in his childhood home in nearby Minot. Although Jeff moved many times while growing up, it was inevitable that he would return to the area to attend Bates. His father, mother, four aunts and uncles, and two cousins attended Bates! Not surprisingly, Jeff’s daughter did, too. Since graduation Jeff has contributed greatly to the community as math teacher, football and basketball coach, athletic director, assistant principal and, most recently, as executive director of the Maine Principals Association. Dan Asselin TBB’71 was one of the first Townie by Birth graduates of his decade. He, too, distinguished himself and his alma mater by his contributions to the community. Dan worked for the government for 37 years, retiring from full-time employment as a director of operations in Disability Determination Services for the Department of Health and Human Services. He now works part time as a civil deputy for the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department.
Mo Dube TBB’73 also had a long, successful government career, first with the IRS, then with the Small Business Administration, serving as the head of the administration in several states, retiring as director of the SBA for Maine. His wife, Anita Moulin Dube TBB’73, contributed her knowledge and skills as a French and Spanish teacher in local high schools.
Tom Peters TBB’72, in addition to his long and distinguished continuing career as an attorney, served his hometown of Lewiston for 17 years on the City Council, both as a counselor and as council president, and as both member and chair of the City Planning Board and the Board of Appeals.
Another TBB from the ’70s made her mark in both local and Bates history by excelling in the arts: Cindy Larock TBB’75 is a highly talented traditional dancer and a well-respected and dedicated authority on and champion of Franco culture.
Two of the local Batesies from the next decade also demonstrated their physical abilities. Ann-Marie Caron TBB’82, who was a talented athlete at Bates, became a physical therapist and traveled extensively in that capacity. However, Ann-Marie always considered Lewiston home, and she now lives in her family’s house in Lewiston and works with outpatients at Central Maine Medical Center’s Therapy Services. Paul Gastonguay TBB’89, a superstar on the Bates tennis team, turned pro after graduation and later became a coach on the professional circuit. Among his significant contributions to the sport he loves, Paul started an elite junior program. He returned to his hometown of Lewiston in 1996 and has been coaching at Bates ever since.
This is just a small sampling of the many TBBs who have made Lewiston-Auburn a better place and, in so doing, have also honored Bates. A toast to these TBBs for their contributions to both their hometowns and their alma mater, and a toast to Bates for its wisdom in recognizing this local potential!
Graham Proud ’08
Alumni Council member
I recently returned from my five-year Bates reunion. I’m certain the weekend was the closest thing to time travel that I have ever experienced. The Class of 2008 came back more than 180 strong to pack into Smith Hall and pretend that we were still 18 years old. It was amazing how easily we fell back into our old Bates ways. We may not have been able to eat in our invisibly demarcated sections of Old Commons, but we did our best to rebuild the system in the “2008” corner of the new dining hall. On Sunday morning, empty beer cans added color to the Smith alarm boxes and provided a familiar indication that good times were had by all. We seemed to want to suspend reality just for the weekend and pretend nothing had changed over the last nine years. Friends around me commented on how different Bates feels when you visit alone: “I’ve been back to campus to interview students and it doesn’t feel like Bates. But with our class together here in Commons, this is Bates!” Surrounded again by our cherished Bates community, Reunion was a surreal revival of our college days.
I knew she had the heart of a Batesie.
But we aren’t students anymore. And many things, great things, have changed at Bates. Last October, long before students had vacated Smith for an alumni return, I got my first taste of the buzz that was discernible on campus last year. As an Alumni Council member, I had the privilege of greeting attendees at President Clayton Spencer’s inauguration. Many, many excited students streamed past me and packed into a beautifully disguised Merrill Gymnasium. A good number of students had already interacted with Clayton, and their enthusiasm for her was inspiring. “What do you think of the new president?” I asked repeatedly. Their unanimous response was some variant of “She’s great!” or “Everyone loves her!” And if there were any doubts about whether all this was lip service, students’ attendance numbers and visible excitement made it clear they had told me the truth. Clayton set forth an exciting vision for Bates in her eloquent and insightful speech that day, but it was the moment she literally kicked off her shoes to join the Bates community on the dance floor that night that I knew she had the heart of a Batesie.
I got another perspective on the campus buzz during a visit to Bates in May. Five years ago, I co-chaired my class’ senior gift committee. We were the first class to donate our gift directly to the Bates Fund. My co-chair and I worked hard to assemble a student committee of about 20 who wanted to help raise funds for the gift. By the time graduation rolled around, a full 68.4 percent of our class decided to participate in the gift. This year, led by two incredible student leaders, Hank Geng and Nancy Weidner, the Class of 2013 enlisted a committee of 55 seniors to organize their class gift to Bates. Fifty-five seniors! These people had theses to write and the last days of college to enjoy, and they gave their time to raise funds for Bates. This exuberant horde of Batesies rallied 92 percent of their classmates to contribute to their gift. When I asked some of the committee members how they had been so successful, several replied “Why wouldn’t you give to Bates?” with genuine confusion.
It was wonderful to see that these students already understand that we — the students, alumni, faculty and staff — are Bates. It is our privilege and responsibility to shape the next chapter of our college’s great legacy. These students already understand that high-quality, residential, small-classroom education is inherently expensive and at Bates well-spent tuition dollars are subsidized by the generosity of the Bates community. Bates has an incredible new leader, and its students are excited and passionate about the college’s path forward. If you haven’t been in touch with Bates for a while, I urge you to take 10 minutes to stream President Spencer’s Inauguration speech on the website. It won’t be long before you understand why the campus is buzzing.
- Bates Alumni Council Newsletter Autumn 2013
- Bates Alumni Council Newsletter Winter Spring 2013
- Bates Alumni Council Newsletter Autumn 2012
- Bates Alumni Council Newsletter Spring 2011
- Bates Alumni Council Newsletter Fall 2011
- Bates Alumni Council Newsletter Fall 2010
- Bates Alumni Council Newsletter Spring 2010