Alumni, Trustees honor Andrews '74, Plavin with new facilities

Alumni, alumni parents and friends of Bates College have raised more than $600,000 for the creation of dance studios and a cardiovascular fitness center in the college’s Merrill Gymnasium.

Capping fund-raising efforts for the new facilities, the college’s Board of Trustees on May 29 endorsed alumni requests to name the new facilities in honor of two highly esteemed members of the Bates community.

The two dance studios will be named for Marcy Plavin, who retires this year as director of dance. A Lewiston resident, Plavin began teaching at Bates in 1965. During the following decades, Plavin’s skill, enthusiasm and concern for her students won a fiercely devoted following and helped expand the role of the arts at Bates. She founded the college’s Modern Dance Company and the nationally acclaimed Bates Dance Festival.

The Bert Andrews Room, the gym’s new cardio fitness center, is named for the late Carl Delbert “Bert” Andrews. Andrews, who had family connections to Bates dating back nearly a century, was a popular and effective leader of the class of 1974 during and after his years as a Bates student. This Cumberland resident was also a celebrated businessman and community figure.

The Plavin studios are under construction on the second floor of Merrill. More than $450,000 was raised for their creation by Bates alumni and friends, led by a group of dedicated alumni dancers and assisted by the college’s Advancement office.

The Andrews Room will expand fitness facilities at Bates that currently include the Davis Fitness Center, a weight room located in Underhill Arena, adjacent to Merrill. A squash court and other spaces are being transformed to accommodate a variety of cardiovascular fitness equipment such as treadmills and elliptical machines.

The class of 1974 dedicated its 30th reunion class gift to this project in Andrews’ memory, and some class parents chipped in. In all, more than $150,000 was raised for the fitness center.

Plavin and the Modern Dance Company are the object of deep loyalty among its veterans, many of whom returned to Bates on May 1 to perform in or applaud the company’s 35th anniversary concert. Dance alumni include John Carrafa, class of 1976, a Tony Award-nominated choreographer acclaimed for his work on the Broadway hits “Urinetown” and “Into the Woods.”

Originally just two courses in the physical education department, dance at Bates has grown dramatically under Plavin. In addition to working with the Modern Dance Company, students interested in dance may elect a secondary concentration in it. Since 1983 the college has been home to the Bates Dance Festival, which Plavin founded and which today ranks in the top tier of such events in the United States.

Bert Andrews, who died of cancer in 2002, was known as a leader on and off the Bates campus. His family has long ties to Bates: Lake Andrews and Andrews Road were named for his great-uncle Delbert, assistant treasurer and superintendent of grounds and buildings at Bates from 1914 to 1920, and a grandmother, Bertha May Bell Andrews, was director of hygiene at Bates from 1913 to 1917. Bert Andrews’ widow, Cindy Holmes Andrews, is also a member of the class of 1974.

After graduation Andrews joined Holmes Distributors, his father-in-law’s firm, and became president of the Portland-based business in 1988 and owner in 1989. In 2000, the company received the Governor’s Award for Business Excellence. He oversaw the merger of Holmes Distributors Inc. with New York state and Massachusetts firms to form Horizon Solutions Inc.

Andrews was a two-year board chairman of Junior Achievement and an incorporator of Maine Medical Center for 13 years. He served as board president of United Way of Greater Portland and was elected to the United Way of America board, but his service was curtailed by declining health.

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