Moments from the 1980s to 1990s

Flight of Fancy
When Roger Tory Peterson received his honorary degree from Bates in 1991, I served as his Trustee host. As he and I marched in the academic procession to Coram Library, he suddenly turned to me and said, “That bird has never been heard north of Hackensack, N.J.!” He bolted from the procession, and with cap and robe flying raced across the Quad to locate the bird, me in pursuit, hoping to persuade him to rejoin the procession.
Donald Richter ’46, Trustee emeritus

Bobcat Football Spotlight
Lisa Birnbach, author of The Official Preppy Handbook, was on campus doing interviews for a spot on the NBC Today Show, at the time hosted by Bryant Gumbel ’70 and Jane Pauley. I was coaching football, and they wanted informal shots of the team practicing. Instead, I convinced Lisa to put the team in the grandstand and have them address Bryant directly. Reluctantly, she agreed. As the camera rolled, I said, “Bryant, this is for you,” and captain Bill Crowley ’85 led the team in “Fight On for Bates.” That’s how Bates football made its debut on national television. — Web Harrison ’63, former football coach

Angelou Who?
With 24-hour notice, Maya Angelou canceled her Convocation visit to Bates in 1997. Responding to a last-moment request, three Bates women substituted for Angelou. An overflow Merrill crowd of students, faculty and staff, Trustees, and community residents awaited the elegance of Angelou. Instead, the three students, supported by chaplain Kerry Maloney, presented the audience with an even higher form and texture of elegance — one that moved and motivated the College and the community in directions of achieving greater diversity. — Donald W. Harward, L.H.D. ’03, President Emeritus

Moody Million
In 1989, we received from Jim Moody ’53 his decision to make a million-dollar individual gift to Bates. It would be the first such gift in the history of the College. Given with characteristic humility, it would lift aspirations and expectations for all of us committed to the College’s support. — Donald W. Harward, L.H.D. ’03, President Emeritus

Center Stage
In the 1996, a student production of David Mamet’s Oleana went on the road to Washington, D.C., and Chicago Bates clubs. The production was stunning.  Even more exciting was observing the student actors and director share with the alumni in a discussion afterwards their perspectives on the troublesome themes of the play. What they shared transcended age, gender, culture and social differences. We alumni, parents, and friends in the audience had the opportunity to observe Bates students dueling with ideas and experiences that were among those that mattered most to them. — Donald W. Harward, L.H.D. ’03. President Emeritus

Hope from Tragedy
It was early evening in October and I needed to take the dog to the vet.  As I rose from the table to go to collect Meg for the trip, I was shot in the back. The tremendous outpouring of support from all involved — the president, my colleagues on the faculty, and most importantly, Bates students on campus and alumni — helped my family get through a tough time. — Jim Carignan ’61, Dean Emeritus of the College

Special Guests
In 1989, shortly after Don Harward arrived as president, Bates hosted all living Secretaries of State at the Muskie Archive. Ed Muskie ’36 was joined by Kissinger, Haig, Rogers, Rusk, et al. It was high drama and a lively time on the campus. Students enjoyed a specially arranged Q and A that President Harward insisted on as part of the tradition of openness that Bates stands for. — Jim Carignan ’61, Dean Emeritus of the College

The Line of Fire
In 1980, when the President’s House caught fire, the students rallied to remove belongings while flames were in the attic. Few of President Reynolds’ personal possessions were lost. Lines formed out of every window and door passing furntiure, books, and clothing. Large appliances made their way out of the house. The response was instantaneous and full involvement by all. — Carolyn Court, head coach of cross country and track and field

I Came for the Free Trip
As a high school senior, I traveled to Bates on a recruiting trip. I only committed to take a look; in my mind, I had decided to go to a school closer to home and one that did not need a “demographic identifier.” Where is Maine anyway? I stood in the group of eager recruits listening to the words of deans Hiss and Mitchell. Unknowingly, I was transformed into a Batesie for life. They mesmerized the crowd with warmth and genuine concern for our journey through life. Almost 25 years have passed with students getting the same transformation. And yes, I am still amazed by our special place in Maine. — Benjamin Robinson ’86, president and CEO, Innovative Risk Solutions, LLC

Going National
In 1998, after the NESCAC presidents decided to stop participation in NCAA tournaments, Bates held a Chapel forum. It was packed. After President Harward spoke, several athletes talked about their experiences at NCAA championships. Abby Phelps ’98’s passionate account of her experiences at NCAA cross country meets stole the show. She talked about being the best you can be in both the classroom and on the playing field. She talked about setting goals and learning life lessons. Later, the NESCAC presidents decided to continue in NCAA championships.
Carolyn Court, head coach of cross country and track and field

Bates 1, Mother Nature 0
Hurricane Gloria felled campus trees right before Back to Bates 1985. The dedication of Muskie Archives was that weekend, and former President Carter would attend. Electricity gone, we tried by flashlight to set up a Chase Hall press conference, in accordance to Secret Service directives, as News Service director Stu Greene searched for a manual typewriter. Early Saturday morning, scores of students and maintenance workers cleaned up the campus. Director of Special Projects Judy Marden ’66, wearing an Ultrasuede suit, cleared debris; treasurer Bernie Carpenter wielded a chainsaw. The campus was transformed before formalities commenced.
Elaine Freeman, retired associate director of Facility Services

Joy to the Word
A Rockwellian memory: my friend and me jumping for joy in the bathroom at our high school as her mother watches us, tears running down her cheeks. My friend had just opened her acceptance letter from Bates, and we were thrilled to be going to our first-choice school. People thought her mother was crying tears of joy, but they were actually from her mile sprint from home to school on a frigid day with the unopened Bates envelope clutched in her hand!
Laura Young Connelly ’88, class president

Quick Reaction
Short Term students were in the Soviet Union when the reactor blew up at Chernobyl in April 1986. Frantic, we tried every way possible to reach them —through the State Department, through the offices of the Washington delegation. Walking to the office one morning, I decided to call the Embassy. Fat chance of getting through, I thought. They answered on the third ring. We located the students, arranged for their return, and oversaw their complete physicals at Brigham and Women’s Hospital as soon as they got off the plane. A happy ending to a serious moment.
Jim Carignan ’61, dean emeritus of the College

The Thumper’s Visit
When Ted Williams’ son, John-Henry, applied for admission in the ’80s, I remember how often Leigh Campbell ’63, director of financial aid, went into Ham Lounge to make coffee when Williams was sitting there. Williams’ voice was so loud, especially when he called Bud Leavitt, collect, from the phone booth on the first floor of Lane. The two of them exchanged affectionate insults at the top of their lungs, and Ted’s voice carried all the way to the third floor.
Virginia Harrison ’63, associate dean of admissions, 1978–2004

The Missed Meeting
I was a freshman and a Benjamin Mays Scholar. I did not know of Dr. Mays and only had appreciation for the scholarship in his name. That spring I had an opportunity to meet him in Atlanta, but the demands of college did not allow me to go. He died the next spring. At that moment, I vowed not to miss another great opportunity, and have used Dr. Mays’ life, his perseverance, and his leadership as inspiration and guidance.
Benjamin Robinson ’86, president and CEO, Innovative Risk Solutions, LLC

I remember coalition-building. I remember cats coming to grips with their white skin privileges and becoming part of a movement. I could look around and find the most unexpected people down for a revolution. The new Multicultural Center was good for that — bringing some crazy faces around (mine included) and forcing us to have some deep conversations. I remember life without the Multicultural Center. It was all right. But it’s an incredible feeling when you feel responsibility for some land. Guess that’s why Columbus came over.
Myrna Morales ’97, medical school student, Cuba

Testing the Waters
In 1984 several admissions deans attended a College Board meeting in Boston. While riding an elevator to a panel presentation — in which Bill Hiss ’66 was to outline, for the first time, the Bates research that led us to stop requiring the SAT — I noticed the name tag of the man standing next to me: Ted Fiske, Education Editor, The New York Times. The door opened, and I said to Fiske, “You should come to this panel on SAT research.” He did, and later we exited the meeting for a nearby sushi bar, where we gave Ted the whole story, which he reported in the Times on Oct. 9, 1984.
Wylie Mitchell, dean of admissions