Slide show: Bill Hiss ’66 retirement reception

“Whatever Bill sets his hand to, whatever he feels called to address, he engages fully with his full heart, mind and energy.”

At the Jan. 18 retirement reception in his honor, Bill Hiss ’66 acknowledges applause for his contributions to Bates. At left are his wife, Colleen Quint ’85, and daughter, Jessie. Photograph by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College.

Those words, crafted by Marcus Bruce ’77, the Benjamin Mays Professor of Religious Studies, sum up the character of service that Bill Hiss ’66 gave to Bates in the 34 years since his appointment as dean of admission in 1978.

Hiss, honored at a Jan. 18 reception in Perry Atrium, retired at the end of 2012.

Besides Bruce’s remarks (delivered by Admission staffer Uriel Gonzales ’11, as Bruce was at a conference in Paris on “Black Portraiture in the West”), speakers included Wylie Mitchell, who succeeded Hiss as dean and retired from Bates in 2011, Bates Magazine editor Jay Burns, who shared comments by former Bates Communications director Patti Lawson, Advancement Vice President Sarah Pearson ’75 and President Clayton Spencer.

Spencer praised Hiss especially for his work on Bates’ optional-SAT policy that propelled the college into the national admissions spotlight. As a forceful and articulate critic of standardized testing, proving that it is not a reliable predictor of student potential, Hiss linked the college’s tradition of opportunity and excellence with the goals of the Bates optional-testing policy.

Later, Hiss led an array of college programs as vice president (and, recently, taught the first-year seminar “Literature through Cataclysm” as a lecturer in Asian Studies). He was also the unofficial college historian, a contemporary Harry Rowe.

Speaking from the alumni perspective, Pearson picked up on Bruce’s theme of Bates being a near-religious calling for Hiss, who is a preacher himself.

She said that “alumni want to know that the college is being loved and well-cared for, the way we loved it as students. We’re happy to know that we have leaders like Bill who take such good care of the precious resource we know Bates is.”

View images from the retirement reception on Jan. 18, 2013, in Perry Atrium, by Phyllis Graber Jensen: