The Case for Bates

Bates was built by people who put their ideals into action and in whose hands the liberal arts served as a dynamic force for the public good. With their progressive call, in 1855, to admit African Americans and to educate men and women together, the founders of Bates affirmed that all human potential deserves to be developed. This radical, founding moment manifests a durable instinct for the fellowship of learning that continues to guide our commitment to intensive and unfettered humanistic inquiry.

Likewise, other deeply held principles of the liberal arts tradition, including commitment to rigor, the free exchange of ideas, and the search for meaning, have particular salience in a knowledge-driven society. Today, more than ever, the ability to discern credible information amidst a welter of material is essential for full participation in a democratic society. Furthermore, students need guidance as they learn to move through the world in ways that are intellectually sound, ethically defensible, and preserving of personal well-being and social responsibility.

In the decades to come, success will go to the institutions that know who they are and how to engage effectively with the forces that are shaping our world. Bates intends to be among the vanguard.

The Bates residential model reflects our fundamental purpose — to educate the whole person — and our conviction that this purpose is best realized in community. In a world where work and personal relationships are increasingly remote and disembodied, a Bates education is rooted in place and in the powerful diversity of human connection. The physical spaces at Bates are meant to be catalysts for both authentic interaction and intentional reflection, places where ideas grow through introspection, collaboration, and debate.

Finally, an important part of what makes Bates distinctive is the recognition, embedded in our mission’s appeal to “coming times,” that no institution remains vital, or even viable, if it stands still. In our best moments and in our driving ideals, we lead as a forward-thinking community of scholars, students, teachers, staff, and alumni, looking to the future as a source of strength and vitality. Our constant challenge is to translate these animating values into the liberal arts education we provide to each new generation of students.


In addition to advancing the college’s mission, The Bates Campaign will invest in our future by expanding the endowment and building upon current programs and facilities to serve the needs of students for generations to come.