On & Off Campus

It’s official: Elaine Tuttle Hansen is Bates’ seventh president.

A comprehensive 12-month search ended Jan. 26 with the Board of Trustees’ unanimous election of Elaine Tuttle Hansen, provost at Haverford College, as Bates’ seventh president.

Hansen’s election was “strength attracting strength,” said Trustee Karen A. Harris ’74, who co-chaired the 16-member Presidential Search Committee with fellow Trustee James F. Orr III P’94. “A year ago, I said that Bates was in a great position to begin a presidential search. Today, we have a wonderful president-elect in Elaine Hansen.”

She assumes office July 1 as the College’s first woman president since its 1855 founding. She succeeds Donald W. Harward, who retires June 30 after 13 years as president.

As provost and chief academic officer at Haverford since 1995, Hansen, 54, has overseen a $20 million budget, a staff of 40, and a faculty of 125. Her responsibilities have included the college’s faculty and curriculum, the library and academic computing, the language learning center, and audio-visual services. Hansen earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Mount Holyoke College in 1969, master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 1972, and doctorate from the University of Washington in 1975.

Search committee co-chair Orr praised Hansen for being “a champion for the liberal arts. She has the intellectual distinction and the proven leadership skills that we sought, and she sensed the momentum of one of the nation’s best colleges of the liberal arts and sciences.”

Back in December, just after the search committee recommended Hansen to the trustees as its finalist, she visited Bates for a whirlwind day of meetings, receptions, and get-togethers with faculty, staff, and students.

The gatherings took place in the casual atmosphere of Chase Hall Lounge, where the various audiences sat in folding chairs to meet the candidate. Hansen’s brief remarks (she got a laugh at one point by saying she would “try very hard” not to embrace the college-presidential tradition of going on at length) gave way to a lively exchange between Bates community members and the woman who would lead Bates.

Asked why she wanted to be president, Hansen eschewed abstractions in favor of straightforward sentiments. She had been to Bates twice before (she had helped conduct an external review of the academic affairs office several years ago) and liked the College very much. The other visit was on her daughter’s college tour, Hansen said, getting a laugh by saying that her daughter didn’t choose Bates, “but I wanted to come.”

She said she saw great commonalities between Bates, founded in 1855 by Freewill Baptist leaders who were avowed abolitionists, and Haverford, founded by Quakers in 1833. She pointed to her affinity for Bates’ “culture, ethos, set of values, and mission.” And she was attracted to a “really tremendous momentum” she perceived at Bates.

Bates is doing everything right, she told the assembled groups, but is straining its resources to sustain that effort. “Bates, like Haverford, is an overachiever,” she said, particularly in the last 10 years as Bates’ national prominence has grown sharply. Increasing the endowment, she acknowledged, would be a major Bates goal of her presidency.

Hansen will lead a college of 800 employees (not to mention 1,700 students and an extended family of 15,000 alumni). In a reception of Bates workers, a questioner solicited Hansen’s perspective on the 21st-century workplace. She told the story of how, when her own two daughters were in elementary school and she was a professor, she was fortunate to be able to arrange her schedule so that she could “be home at 3 p.m. when the school bus doors opened.” Others don’t have that luxury, she knows, adding that a workplace must understand the realities of family life today.

That whirlwind day was just a glimpse, to be sure, yet good questions were met with warm, witty, and articulate answers – suggesting that Elaine Tuttle Hansen already shares an outlook consistent with Bates goals and hopes … and people.

A Conference Call

Smugness is hardly an institutional trait at Bates. But you could forgive the smidgen of self-satisfaction that crept into Director of Athletics Suzanne Coffey’s words in January, after several members of the powerhouse New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), of which Bates is a member, announced plans to reduce the number of recruited athletes in each admissions cycle.

After all, Bates believes it has kept the role of sports in perspective all along. “We’re pleased the rest of the conference is moving in our direction,” Coffey told The Associated Press.

Recruiting in NESCAC pales in aggressiveness compared to what’s seen in Division I. Coaches cannot visit athletes, schools do not offer athletic scholarships, and they don’t reserve specific slots for athletes. “Recruited athletes,” then, is defined as applicants whose athletic ability, as rated by coaches, can tip the admissions scale in their favor. Being from an alumni family or having extracurricular talents are also “tips” in the admissions process.

The move by several schools to decrease the number of recruited athletes was one of several reactions to a NESCAC-sponsored study by William Bowen examining the admissions practices and the performance of student-athletes at member schools. Bowen had already co-authored 2001’s The Game of Life, an analysis of the influence of sports at 30 highly selective colleges and universities, including a few NESCAC schools.

Bowen’s basic findings mirrored those of The Game of Life: NESCAC athletes have a huge advantage in the admissions process but get worse grades than their classmates. One notable exception was Bates, where athletes get less consideration in the admissions process than at other NESCAC schools and achieve grades only several hundredths of a point lower than non-athletes.

For the entire conference, the results hinted at the larger question. Has athletic success – defined in this case as winning – become a disproportionate goal in NESCAC, mirroring the generally distasteful obsession with winning seen in NCAA Division I?

Besides boasting some of the most selective small colleges in the country, NESCAC is the toughest sports conference in Division III. Williams has won the Sears Directors’ Cup for the best overall performance of its teams in the country five out of the last six years. Last year, Middlebury College was ranked second; Amherst College, 14th; Tufts, 24th; Hamilton, 41st; and Bates 50th out of nearly 400 institutions. The Middlebury men’s hockey team has won an NCAA record-breaking five consecutive Division III championships; the Panther women have a 128-game winning streak going.

As the 1990s came to a close, a few NESCAC presidents, especially Bates President Don Harward, pushed the conference to discuss whether its jones for winning had replaced its stated mission of “promoting equitable competition” and maintaining a harmony between athletics and academics. Were athletes at some peer schools, as Harward said (see page 28), “not representative or typical of the student population at large”?

With the 2001 publication of The Game of Life and Bowen’s follow-up study, the stage was set for change. The NESCAC presidents met Dec. 13 and announced that “athletic excellence should be given no more weight than other non-academic considerations” in recruiting and admitting student-athletes. Shortly thereafter, individual schools announced changes in their recruiting programs. Through the winter, the conference presidents continued discussions, as did Bates faculty, coaches, administrators, and Trustees.

Martin and Malcolm

Calling Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X the “yin and yang” of the civil rights movement, noted theologian James Cone urged his Bates audience on Martin Luther King Day to see the two leaders’ common humanity and shared goal: “the unqualified liberation of African Americans from the bonds of segregation and discrimination, from inferiority and nobodyness to an affirmation of themselves as human beings.” Pushing for social and economic justice in the South, King connected nonviolent action with the Christian church to empower Southern blacks. Malcolm, on the other hand, worked in the North invoking “blackness and African cultural identity,” appealing to ghetto blacks disenfranchised from the church. Their tactics “complemented and corrected each other,” Cone argued, and “what King did in the South, Malcolm did in the North – affirmed black humanity.”

The horrific death of Bates student Jessie Withrow ’02 in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, reached some sort of closure in November when the drunk driver who killed her was sentenced to 15 years in prison. On the night of July 3, 2000, Russell Carlson lost control of his pickup, hit a car, and drove onto the sidewalk, striking Withrow, 20, who was riding her bicycle. Carlson had seven previous DWI convictions and a blood-alcohol content of 0.24, more than twice the legal limit. At Bates, Withrow had been involved in campus efforts to provide more alcohol-free weekend activities. Last spring, the Jessie Withrow Memorial Chem-Free Leadership Award was established through the generosity of Jessie’s friends and family to support students and student organizations that promote chem-free programs at Bates….

Washington, D.C., attorney Karen Hastie Williams ’66 was quoted on the Nov. 19, 2001, edition of NPR’s All Things Considered, in a report on U.S. victims of previous terrorist attacks, some at the hand of Osama bin Laden, who haven’t had the same opportunities for compensation as Sept. 11 victims. Williams was quoted as the attorney for 12 families who lost loved ones in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. “You have the same mastermind, bin Laden, using his network to terrify and murder these individuals, and the only difference is that it happened thousands of miles away in Africa. There is a very serious issue of fairness and equity here.”…

Beth Sheppard, longtime director of special projects and summer programs, was proamoted to director of alumni relations in the fall. An indefatigable event manager who also brings a great respect for and knowledge of all things Bates, Sheppard’s appointment was hailed on and off campus. See Alumni Council president Mike Bosse ’93’s column on page 64….

A $1-million gift from the Orr Family Foundation, founded by Bates Trustee James F. Orr III, creates the Benjamin E. Mays ’20 Distinguished Visiting Professorship. The professorship, said President Harward, celebrates Bates values “made manifest in the work and legacy of Dr. Mays – intellectual inquiry and a commitment to individual worth and equality of access.” The late Benjamin Mays influenced a generation of civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who described him as “my spiritual mentor and my intellectual father.” Said Orr, who co-chaired the recent Presidential Search Committee, “We are pleased to support the establishment of an ongoing commitment to the very best of what Bates and a liberal education provides.”…

Among U.S. colleges that grant only bachelor’s degrees, Bates ranks seventh out of 500 colleges in the number of physics majors it graduates annually, according to a survey conducted by the American Institute of Physics. John Pribram, professor of physics, sees a simple explanation for Bates’ strong showing in the AIP ranking: “We get good people, and we don’t push them away,” he says. Bates’ physics program is user-friendly without sacrificing intellectual rigor….

David Aschauer, Elmer W. Campbell Professor of Economics, is among the most-cited scholars in the country, according to a 2001 report authored by Howard Bodenhorn of Lafayette College. His study sought to measure the influence of 439 economists at 50 U.S. liberal arts colleges by counting the times their work has been cited by other researchers. Ranking individuals and departments, the study rated Aschauer number one among full professors and put the Bates economics department first in the per-capita analysis. Bodenhorn concluded, “Although prominent economists at elite research universities produce the most influential scholarship, economists at the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges make significant contributions to the literature.”

The last time Bates track and field athletes held a home meet, it was 1976 and the Blue Goose was a popular hangout near campus. (OK, so not everything has changed in 26 years.) On April 6, 2002, Bates hosts its first outdoor track meet since the Sylvers were singing “Boogie Fever,” welcoming the Springfield men, Mount Holyoke women, and Tufts men and women to the College’s new track and soccer field along Russell Street. (The eight-lane Mondo track, the same surface used at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympic venues, was actually christened informally during an alumni meet at Celebrate Bates weekend; see photos at abacus.bates.edu/sports/mtrack/01/track-alumni-meet.html). The old track at Garcelon Field, more mud than cinder by the early 1970s, fell out of favor when Bates’ peer schools began installing all-weather surfaces. Later paved, the track has been used mainly for recreational jogging and walking since then….

The new Center for Community Partnerships puts a nice exclamation point on a decade of increased cooperation between Bates and Lewiston-Auburn. The center will oversee Bates’ highly regarded service-learning programs (involving nearly 150 community agencies and institutions), providing resources for institutional collaborations with the community, including LA Excels, the community-based strategic alliance; and supporting community research projects by Bates students and faculty. “The center is the sustainable link of the College’s academic mission to its commitment to service,” President Harward said….

A semester in the nation’s capital helped Brian O’Doherty of Kennebunk, Maine, see how good ideas can touch real people. A Bates debater, O’Doherty won a Phillips Student Fellowship for his proposal to help Washington public and private schools create an urban debate league. “Like a sport, debate is competitive,” O’Doherty observed. “It gives you confidence and self-esteem when you’re good at it.” Last fall, in collaboration with the District of Columbia schools, O’Doherty saw those ideas come to life when the newly christened Brooks Quimby Debate League (named for the legendary 1927-1967 Bates debate coach) hosted its first tournament. After the tournament involving 50 debaters from seven schools, a parent talked to O’Doherty about her daughter. The girl’s father had died of cancer when the girl was in seventh grade, and since then, she’d struggled in school. “The mother started crying, telling me how debate had given her daughter the energy to study, learn, and enjoy life,” O’Doherty recalls. “Her grades have skyrocketed, her writing has improved, and she now is excited to go to school.” For his part, O’Doherty said the semester had another highlight: staying with Bates alumni debaters Grant ’57 and Jo Trogler Reynolds ’58, who welcomed O’Doherty into their Potomac, Md., home after his D.C. housing plans fell through….

Bates is one of six partner institutions that will benefit from a $5.5-million grant to Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) to support biomedical research opportunities for students, as well as an expanded statewide network of biomedical researchers. Bates, Colby, College of the Atlantic, the University of Maine, and the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor will join with MDIBL to form a student-faculty network for research training in comparative genomics.

A sampling of Bates-related news from state, regional, and national media

A casual reader could assume that by denying a grant to support an exhibition by Bates faculty member William Pope.L, the National Endowment for the Arts made up in publicity what it withheld in financial support. In December and January, substantial Pope.L coverage turned up in The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and major Maine publications.

Pope.L has known controversy, as you might expect from a multi-media artist whose projects have included eating (and regurgitating) the Wall Street Journal, chaining himself to the door of a New York bank and handing out money as a reverse panhandler, wearing an Armani suit while crawling on his stomach through New York’s Bowery, and other quite bawdy performance projects. Offering a “carnivalesque element of street theater,” according to the Post, it’s at times shocking social commentary – not dissimilar from what Michael Moore has been doing in the last decade. Often missed in 300-word descriptions of Pope.L’s work, however, is the principled thought – about issues of social, racial, and economic justice -underlying his art. That quality of thought was well represented in the news this time around. The ideas that drive Pope.L’s work “represent a curiously traditional and idealistic view of art, and artistic work,” opined Washington Post staff writer Philip Kennecott. “The idealism inherent in his approach to art – the insistence on taking it to the people, the distrust of mixing commerce and creativity – sounds almost quaint today.”

Aside from Pope.L, the Maine press was attentive to the arts at Bates. In January, Portland Press Herald critic Christopher Hyde led his glowing review of an Olin Concert Hall concert by the Guarneri String Quartet by stating that “[s]ometimes it seems that Bates College is competing with PCA Great Performances” – a major presenter in Portland – “to bring the world’s best musicians to Maine.”

An essay about Bates’ testing-optional admissions policy in the Oct. 26 Chronicle of Higher Education was timely in light of the Bush education plan emphasizing standardized testing. Bill Hiss ’66, erstwhile vice president for admissions at Bates and now VP for external and alumni affairs, wrote that in 17 years, that policy has done Bates only good. Hiss explained that testing-optional admissions has expanded the applicant pool, enriched campus diversity, and brought many students whose distinctive abilities would have made no blip on the SAT radar.

A month before the Chronicle piece, the Boston Herald offered living proof of the kind of creativity that Bates attracts. The Herald profiled Robert Merritt, of Worcester, a first-year student whose pre-Bates achievements included a highly successful dot.com venture. Merritt launched TheRightBean.com, an online coffee boutique, when he was just 17.

The Maine press paid particular attention to the work of an anthropologist at Bates this year. Bruce Bourque, chief archeologist and curator of ethnology at the Maine State Museum and a lecturer at Bates, had a hand in two publications addressing topics near and dear to Mainers. Bourque was one of 19 contributors to a much-publicized analysis, in a July issue of Science magazine, of the decline of coastal fisheries. Bourque also made news as principal author of Twelve Thousand Years: American Indians in Maine (University of Nebraska Press), the first authoritative history of Maine’s native people, published in September.

And faculty even turned up in the international daily press. Doug Hodgkin, soon-to-be emeritus political science professor, was quoted in La Liberation, a leading Parisian newspaper, on the reawakening of partisan politics in the United States after the truce inspired by Sept. 11. The popularity of President George W. Bush, Hodgkin said, could give a particular boost to GOP politicians hoping to make the leap from the state scene to the national.

The Baltimore Sun, interviewing fans at retiring Oriole Cal Ripken’s last game, interviewed Jen Bowman, head coach of volleyball and assistant in softball. She told the Sun that Ripken was her hero. “We use Cal as our example” at Bates, she said. “He’s about doing things right.”

Finally, going from home plates to winning dishes, a Bates chef made the AP newswires in August by taking third place in a culinary contest. Not everyone would associate higher education and haute cuisine, but people who know Bates won’t be surprised by James Byron’s creation for the seventh annual Governor’s Great Taste of Maine Lobster Tasting – grilled lobster-stuffed crepes with baby shrimp hollandaise and fresh blueberry-blackberry compote.