Carl Benton Straub, late professor emeritus

Art review: Bates displays nature art left by late professor — Portland Press Herald

In the Portland Press Herald, Jorge S. Arango reviews Carl Benton Straub: His Enduring Legacy, an exhibition at the Bates Museum of Art of artwork collected by Carl Benton Straub, the late dean emeritus of the faculty, professor emeritus of religion, and Clark A. Griffith Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies at Bates.

Arango writes that “clearly, for Straub, nature and divinity were inseparable.” Straub’s love for nature can be seen through the collection’s focus on landscapes and even depictions of Straub’s own property.

Part of the Bates Museum of Art exhibition Carl Benton Straub: His Enduring Legacy is Robert Solotaire’s West Harpswell Baptist Church, n.d., oil on paper, 1999.12.1.

Mara Tieken, education faculty

Good ideas often originate outside D.C. — The Hill

Political columnist Al Hunt reports on a trip to Vail, Colo., where a school district is trying to bridge the education quality gap in rural schools with an afterschool program.

Hunt reports that COVID-19 has had a hugely detrimental effect on learning outcomes for kids, and it is exacerbated in rural areas. Hunt included Mara Tieken, a Bates associate professor of education. 

Tieken specializes in rural schools and told The Hill, “with most education financed by property taxes, there are marked quality inequities in many of these rural districts.” Tieken added that an important factor in rural school programs is “ a close relationship between parents and teachers.”

Rachel Straus Ferrante ’10

Museum L-A names former NYC museum staffer as new director — Mainebiz

Museum L-A gained a new executive director on Sept. 7, Rachel Straus Ferrante ’10, succeeding Audrey Thomson. Ferrante interned at the Bates College Museum, and told MaineBiz that she is “thrilled to be returning” to Maine after spending 10 years as an exhibition manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Museum L-A focuses on the working heritage of Lewiston-Auburn.

Tad Baker ’80

Three centuries later, a push to exonerate one last witch — The Boston Globe

In 1693, during the hysteria of the witch trials in Salem, Mass., Elizabeth Johnson Jr. was convicted of practicing witchcraft. Over the ensuing centuries, the commonwealth officially pardoned everyone who had been convicted or put to death during the trials — everyone but Johnson.

Johnson’s plight is “known only to the most assiduous of historians,” reported The Boston Globe, including Emerson “Tad” Baker ’80, a history professor at Salem State University.

“We don’t know why, but in all of the efforts to pardon the women convicted of witchcraft, Elizabeth was never included. In the eyes of the law, her conviction still technically stands.”

Examination of a Witch (1853) by T. H. Matteson, inspired by the Salem witch trials. (Peabody Essex Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Earlier this year, a bill was introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature that would finally clear her name. The legislation was researched and crafted by a Bay State eighth-grade history class for a civic engagement project.

Michael Sargent, psychology faculty

Stories from the Stage reflects on 9/11 in Season 5 premiere — New York Trend

New York Trend and other media outlets noted that Associate Professor of Psychology Michael Sargent appeared as one of three storytellers on a 9/11 edition of Stories from the Stage, an award-winning series from World Channel.

In his story, Sargent talks about confronting his biases while on a plane flight from Boston to the Midwest for a wedding. “It should’ve felt like a routine traveling day,” he said. But he was traveling less than two weeks after the attacks of 9/11. And, he says, “I was afraid.” 

Sargent was just one of three passengers on the flight. One grabbed Sargent’s attention. “Through the fog of my overactive, post-9/11 imagination, I saw him as Middle Eastern,” Sargent says. “And I’m ashamed to say I saw him immediately as a threat.”

Sargent describes how those feelings — fueled by bias — led to a classroom epiphany.

Mike Dorfman ’12

Meet the ‘Weather Guy on MDI’ — Mount Desert Islander

Mike Dorfman ’12 runs the “Weather Guy on MDI” Facebook page on Mount Desert Island as a way to “mix business with pleasure,” he tells the Mount Desert Islander.

Dorfman has always been fascinated by the weather, and doing a senior thesis in physics on cloud droplet formation was “when I kind of moved in the weather direction” for a career, he tells the Mount Desert (Maine) Islander.

He’s now a software engineer for the weather-specific team at Verisk Analytics, an American data analytics and risk assessment firm based in Jersey City, N.J. 

The FB page taps into the idea that all weather is local. “I really want to get people in the community excited about coastal weather, specifically the weather on Mount Desert Island,” he said.

Peter Reich ’65

The view from Mrs. Priest’s fourth grade classroom, 1953–54, and how public health came to Rangeley — Lewiston Sun Journal

Peter Reich ‘65, who was born in Rangeley, Maine, recalls a visit to his old elementary school.

The design of public schools in the early 1900s focused on creating open spaces with lots of “flowing fresh air, hence the wide stairwells, tall ceilings, and tall, tall windows” of schoolhouses of that era.

In an era “without any safe and effective treatments” for tuberculosis, “the only proven, effective measures were prevention, and that meant fresh, clean, flowing air.”

Reich recalls how the top sash of the classroom windows was “so high all the teachers used long poles with little brass hooks designed to fit into little brass receptacles to give purchase. 

“Lowering the top window a few inches allowed a steady flow of warm, germy air to rise to the ceiling to be drawn out on the draft from the upper opening, while fresh air blew in through the lower opening at the level of a child’s head.”

Meanwhile, his teacher, Mrs. Priest, “and other teachers constantly reminded us to sit up straight because if we slouched, the TB germs could be trapped in our lungs.”

Bates Museum of Art

Adventurer in the arts: Marsden Hartley — Maine Home + Design

The newest exhibition at the Bates Museum of Art focuses on Marsden Hartley, a pioneering modernist who was born in Lewiston.

Maine Home+Design reviewer Rachel Hurn notes that Hartley had a complicated relationship with his hometown, marked by “bleak occurrences.” He once wrote that hearing a New England accent created “a sad recollection” that “rushed into my very flesh like sharpened knives.”

“Perhaps because of this, Hartley became a lifelong wanderer,” writes Hurn, quoting Bill Low, co-curator of the new show, who notes that Harley “never spent more than 13 months in one place his entire adult life.

“He loved New York, he hated New York. He loved being in Maine, he detested Maine and its provinciality,” says Low. “He’d go somewhere new and be excited about his work and how things were going, and then a few weeks later he would be despairing and depressed.”

John Jenkins ’74

Lewiston and Auburn honor two great men with bridges across the Androscoggin River — Lewiston Sun Journal

Sun Journal columnist Elliot Epstein notes a historical connection between two named bridges over the Androscoggin River. 

Recently, the pedestrian footbridge that crosses the Androscoggin River, connecting parkland on either side of the river, was named in memory of John Jenkins ’74, former mayor of both cities, who died of cancer in 2020.

Bernard Lown Peace Bridge Dedication, Franco-American Heritage Center, and city bridge that links New Auburn and Lewiston. 

Bernard Lown Peace Bridge

By Kathryn Skelton , Staff Writer
Saturday, October 18, 2008
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LEWISTON - He thanked the city for introducing him to his wife. For inspiring his career choice as a doctor. For teaching him, the hard way, that he had better improve his English.

"High school sophomore English was very traumatic," Dr. Bernard Lown told a crowd at the Franco-American Heritage Center. Back in 1935, the teacher thought he was a bumbling idiot. Lown caused a stir when he read aloud in class, "I was lying on the bitch."

(Presumably, instead of "beach.")

When the audience stopped howling with laughter Friday, he added, with deadpan delivery:

"I was kept back and I received an 'F' for the year."

Lown, 87, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, returned to his adopted hometown to see state bridge No. 3330, known as South Bridge between Lewiston and Auburn, become the Bernard Lown Peace Bridge.

Before unveiling monuments in both cities, Lown gave a half-hour talk interrupted with laughter and applause.

A state legislator read a proclamation from Gov. John Baldacci declaring Friday "Bernard Lown Day" and citing Lown's achievements, such as co-founding the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, developing the defibrillator and generally bettering mankind.

"At this stage in my life, to be greeted with such words, I'm convinced a eulogy will be a nonevent," Lown said.

He moved to Lewiston at age 14, escaping Lithuania with his family, and graduated from Lewiston High School in 1938. His wife Louise, from the class of 1940, was his first unofficial English teacher. He called his wife of nearly 63 years wise, kind, forgiving and interesting.

The pair live in Massachusetts now and spend summers in Maine.

"She has been the best choice I have ever made in my life," Lown said. "So once again, thank you, Lewiston."

It was a local surgeon, Dr. Max Hirshler, who inspired Lown to go into medicine. He had wanted to be a foreign correspondent.

But listening to the German-born older doctor once over tea, Lown was spellbound.

"I concluded that doctors were the cultural vanguard of civilization," Lown said. And maybe that didn't prove entirely true, but he enjoyed it. Lown retired from cardiology only two years ago.

It was during a historic 1937 Auburn shoe strike, when Lown crossed the picket line to work under his father at Lown Shoe, that he learned the power of outrage. He saw picketers being abused and arrested, and he quit.

"Thank you, Lewiston-Auburn, for sharpening my moral sensibilities while I was still an impressionable youngster," Lown said.

He took issue with how much money is going toward the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while needs are left unfunded at home. It costs $500,000 to fire one Tomahawk missile in Afghanistan, Lown said, the same amount it costs to build 20 schools there. Which, he asked the audience of about 200, paves the way to peace?

"I am therefore proud that my hometown is celebrating peace," he said. "I thank you for honoring me in such a meaningful way."

Outside, he clipped a ribbon held by both mayors at the middle of the bridge, and led by the Edward Little High School band, lifted the covers off both monuments.

"Honestly, I thought it was a good speech, I thought it was beautiful. He put a lot of thought into it," said Edward Little sophomore Kotye Howard.

Carole Wise, an adviser for the civil rights team at Edward Little, brought 10 students to the event.

"I wanted them to actually be part of history, a living history," she said.

Al Harvie (Bates Class of 1965), the man who initiated the effort to name the bridge after Lown, was the morning's master of ceremonies. He said the dedication wouldn't have been possible without the schools, the donors who came forward and the community coming together.

"Sometimes you dream it and it doesn't come true. You always work toward your dreams," he said.
John Jenkins ’74, then mayor of Auburn, and Bernard Lown during dedication ceremonies for the Bernard Lown Peace Bridge on Oct. 17, 2008. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Just to the south, a vehicle bridge is named in honor of native son Bernard Lown, “a world-renown cardiologist, inventor, and advocate for nuclear disarmament who died this year at age of 99,” notes Epstein. Lown received an honorary degree from Bates in 1983.

“To add a nice poetic touch, it was John Jenkins, then Auburn’s mayor, who helped preside over the dedication of the Bernard Lown Peace Bridge” in 2008.

Read the story: “Lewiston and Auburn honor two great men with bridges across the Androscoggin River,” Lewiston Sun Journal, Sept. 12, 2021

Alisa Amador ’18

These are Alisa Amador’s fight songs — The Boston Globe

“I just want us to love ourselves and see ourselves as our number one companion,” Alisa Amador ’18 tells Lauren Daley of The Boston Globe.

In a Q&A with The Boston Globe, Lauren Daley says to Alisa Amador ‘18 that “it must be hard being a woman in the music business.”

Oh yes, says Amador, who says her Bates degree, in women and gender studies, gives her the language and tools to sort out what’s happening.

Behaviors that she used to accept “are so different from the behaviors I accept now. When I come out of a conversation and say, ‘I don’t feel like I was respected’ — now I have a vocabulary for it. I’m still learning how to listen to myself. I’m fighting. Sometimes I don’t feel strong; sometimes I just feel tired. But being able to share this music gives me so much hope.”

Alisa Amador '18 of Cambridge, Mass., and her mother, Rosi Amador, embrace during a performance by the group Sol y Canto, whose principals are Alisa's parents, Rosi and Brian. Alisa joined them for the Olin Concert Series event. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)
In March 2018, Alisa Amador ’18 of Cambridge, Mass., and her mother, Rosi Amador, embrace during a performance by the group Sol y Canto, whose principals are Alisa’s parents, Rosi and Brian. Alisa joined them for the Olin Concert Series event. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

Amy Fisher ’99

New farmland trust chief brings fundraising experience

Mainebiz reports on the appointment of Amy Fisher ’99 as president and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust, a nonprofit that protects farmland, supports farmers, and advances the future of farming.

Fisher most recently served as executive director of the foundation for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, which supports sustainable marine industries in the Chesapeake Bay region and worldwide. A recently concluded fundraising campaign at VIMS raised $26.5 million.

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