At three campus events during the past academic year, Bates celebrated 12 faculty members who have retired over the last two years.
At the gatherings, held in Perry Atrium, a colleague of each retiring professor offered a tribute, excerpts of which are presented below.
Bates professors excel as teachers and scholars, to be sure. But that’s not all. Through the words of their colleagues, we learn other identities of these 12 faculty members. Beloved friend and trusted colleague. Attentive mentor and fierce advocate. An economist who moonlights as a Bates actor, and a geologist who heads out to sea via kayak (with students, of course).
In the words of the very old but very true saying, teachers affect eternity. But they also affect the here and now, the daily lives of their former students who navigate all the challenges and complexities the world has to offer, heartened and fortified by lessons learned from their Bates College professors.
“Persistence and care for the students mark a good teacher,” said Laurie O’Higgins in her tribute to retiring anthropology professor Loring Danforth. “Grace and humility characterize the best.”
Here, now in retirement, are 12 of the best of Bates:
Senior Lecturer in Theater Katalin Vecsey offered the tribute to Andrucki, who was appointed in 1974 and retires as the Charles A. Dana Emeritus Professor of Theater:
While Marty’s biography speaks for itself, perhaps the greatest measure of his success is the impact he’s had on Bates students.
Last May, more than 100 colleagues, students, and friends fortunate enough to learn from Marty in the classroom or on the stage gathered on Zoom to pay tribute to Bates’ most esteemed theater professor. It was a joyous celebration, fitting for a man whose passion for the theater set so many on the path of learning and life they are still on today.
At the end of the celebration, Marty reflected on the journey of one of those students, Charley Stern ’13, a young man who had devoted his life to hockey but in fall 2011 decided to audition for a play for the first time in his life.
Auditioning for that play, and being cast as Carl, the bus driver in Bus Stop, changed this young man’s life forever. Charley reflected that “the leap of faith Marty took on casting me, having never been in a play before, drastically altered the course of my life. In those months with you I fell in love with the theater, and I started down a path into the world of storytelling that I am still in today.”
When Marty arrived in 1974, the theater department was on the verge of expiring. There was much skepticism about the legitimacy of theater as an independent department and academic major in liberal arts. Marty and a growing number of faculty colleagues were determined to demonstrate that theater had a place at the academic table.
Under Marty’s leadership, the department transformed from just two members and five courses into one with a robust curriculum that emphasized literature and theory; produced serious drama on stage; and allowed majors to divide into two tracks: theater studies and theater makers. Today, we are the Department of Theater and Dance with 10 wonderful colleagues.
In his effort to build theater at Bates, Marty taught classes on theater history, dramatic literature, directing, and playwriting, all while continuing to write and direct plays himself. One student reflected, “Marty was the catalyst to finding out what I wanted to do with my life.”
Every other year from 1999 to 2019, I was fortunate to teach and travel with Marty and our students to my native city of Budapest and to Prague for our Short Term class, “Central European Theater and Film,” the longest-running off-campus Short Term program in Bates history. Marty and I watched many great — and many boring — theater productions together over the years. Marty always made sure to get an aisle seat just to make sure he had a quick way to escape if the show was unbearable.
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology Charles “Val” Carnegie offered the tribute to Eames, who was appointed in 1988 and retires as professor emerita of anthropology:
Critically formed by feminism, Elizabeth came of age as an anthropologist at a pivotal moment of disciplinary introspection in which we became more attuned to the constructedness of our accounts and confronted the ways in which anthropology was complicit — through its categories of analysis and modes of representation — in producing otherness even as it sought to render cultural differences intelligible and reduce barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding.
Elizabeth has taken these lessons to heart more seriously than anyone else I know, achieving remarkable balance and consistency in her personal, professional, and political life; building bridges as a matter of course; becoming a co-participant in the cultivation of community rather than simply studying others as a professional ethnographer.
One of Elizabeth’s students described her “amazing skill of helping you to play to your strengths while identifying what you needed to build on to make your paper complete. In particular, she was extremely dedicated to elevating African voices and perspectives in a field that is systematically white-dominated — despite those Africans being the subject matter! It’s one thing to elevate those voices that have already made it into the reading list, but I am sure that every African voice that has sat in professor Eames’ classes came out the other side more confident and more determined to make a difference in the world, irrespective of the odds.”
Christian A. Johnson Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Holly Ewing offered the tribute to Costlow, who was appointed in 1986 and retires as the Clark A. Griffith Professor Emerita of Environmental Studies:
[An] interweaving of scholarship, teaching, collaboration, and service characterized Jane’s work throughout her time at Bates. But it is the invisible — or the hard to see — that is so important to the creation of community and our feelings about being in a place.
In the forest, a focus of Jane’s book Heart-Pine Russia, the underground networks of mycorrhizae that create communication and support channels connecting the trees are only obvious to us when they fruit as mushrooms. Connector and supporter of thriving is one of the many roles Jane took on at Bates.
Structurally, this could be seen through her work on so many committees—personnel, faculty governance, student conduct, environmental responsibility, Otis, institutional planning, searches of all kinds, chairing departments and programs, and the renovation of Hedge and Roger Williams. In the classroom, she was not a showy lecturer but a guide, a space‐maker and listener, a weaver of texts and perspective.
Former students report that her listening—and her absolute presence while doing it — was part of how Jane made space for them to bring their own ideas into the scholarly conversation. And this tangible and yet often‐overlooked presence was part of what built community here—with staff and faculty, even sometimes before they arrived. Faculty members from very different parts of the college independently said to me that meeting Jane was how they knew they were in the right place—her generous welcome, active curiosity about people and their ideas, and the remarkable breadth of what she knew and offered in conversation.
Loring “Danny” Danforth
Euterpe B. Dukakis Professor of Classical and Medieval Studies Dolores “Laurie” O’Higgins offered the tribute to Danforth, who was appointed in 1978 and retires as Charles A. Dana Professor Emeritus of Anthropology:
He examines the politics of identity and politics of history, as contested in modern Greece and Macedonia, and in Australia among the diaspora. He has looked at firewalkers in the Balkans and in the U.S., and how they achieve transcendence of their social roles and healing of ills. His work on firewalkers engaged in dialogue with the practice, rather than treating it as an alien custom to be analyzed by a rational observer.
Danny has never been one to watch from the sidelines, notebook in hand. His work reflects the inner man and his priorities. In life here in Maine, he has stood up for, and steadily volunteered among, refugees and new Mainers. He has been a firm and consistent voice on campus and elsewhere for women, for people of color, for anyone whose status and human rights have been denied or diminished by those in power.
He is generous with his time. I remember a bitterly cold Saturday long ago when he accompanied my then-small child to the Bates Mill because Cameron had expressed an interest in birds of prey. Danny is an expert birder. Through a telescope we watched a peregrine falcon plunge out of the sky after a pigeon. It was an astounding gift, and remains a cherished memory.
After winning the Kroepsch Award for Excellence in Teaching, he talked about how asking difficult questions can result in painful classroom experiences. Like Danny, many of us faculty have struggled to bring about those difficult conversations, balancing our primary responsibility not to harm students with that of challenging certainties about how the world works, and about one’s own virtue, or place in it.
Hats off to you, Danny, not for walking the line perfectly — nobody does — but for doing your best, with grace and humility, and learning to do better as you go. Persistence and care for the students mark a good teacher. Grace and humility characterize the best.
Senior Lecturer in Theater Michael Reidy offered the tribute to Dilley, who was appointed in 2003 and retires as professor emerita of dance:
In summer 1991, early in her professional dance career, Carol Dilley performed at the Bates Dance Festival. That one summer intensive introduced her to a whole new world of dance and changed the trajectory of her life.
A dozen years later, Carol returned to Bates, eventually becoming director of dance and the first tenured professor in dance at Bates. In 2011, the faculty voted unanimously to approve the major in dance in the renamed Department of Theater and Dance, the first new major on campus in 15 years. Dancers could now develop their embodied skills as a major the way musicians, lab scientists, economists or writers do.
Carol joined the college after an active 20-year career as an international artist, choreographer, performer and teacher. After her years of work as a dancer and an artist traveling around the world, she found Bates to be a utopia of stability and opportunity. Carol continued her practice of involving her students in her creative work at Bates. She and her students developed ideas that wove in and out of classes and performances for years and generations of students.
Carol Dilley prioritizes creating space for students to take responsibility for themselves and embrace the power they already have. She encourages women and other marginalized individuals to not wait to have their value recognized, but to stand up and make themselves heard, using the powerful noise of dancing with their full-bodied selves. She believes that dance can and should be a subversive space in which people can interact differently, move differently, touch differently, and be different themselves.
Dykstra Eusden ’80
Professor Emeritus of Earth and Climate Sciences Mike Retelle offered the tribute to Eusden, who was appointed in 1988 and retires as Whitehouse Professor Emeritus of Earth and Climate Sciences:
Dyk and I benefited greatly as young professors from the mentoring from our department chair, the late John Creasy, whose management style was to let young faculty do what they do best in developing a geoscience curriculum that was a good fit for Bates.
Dyk was a brilliant teacher who quickly accepted that challenge of developing courses that were heavy in field-based experiential learning. His lectures were creative, stimulating, and fun. His GIS mapping course became a must-have course not only for geo students but environmental studies students and others who saw applications for digital spatial analysis. He led and co-led Short Term trips in the Appalachians, Scotland, the northern Rocky Mountains, and the U.S. Southwest.
But in my opinion, his two signature courses were Geology 107, “Field Geology of Northern New England,” and the Short Term source “Geology of the Maine Coast by Sea Kayak.” In Geo 107, students were introduced to field studies in the most amazing classic and scenic geologic sites in northern New England: Acadia National Park, Baxter State Park, Mount Washington, and Vinalhaven. How could you not like that?
Dyk Eusden gives his students a pep talk before fieldwork during the 2018 edition of “Geology of the Maine Coast by Sea Kayak.” It will be “a lot trickier” than what they’ve done before, he says.
The sea kayak Short Term was brilliant: Students learned to kayak in the Bates pool, assisted by professional kayak guides, and then over the course of five weeks the group engaged in geological mapping expeditions.
They start with day trips in Casco Bay and eventually head out on multiple-day field projects involving island hopping and camping across the numerous and amazing geological localities that the Maine coast has to offer. How could you not like that?
Elmer W. Campbell Professor of Economics Lynne Lewis offered the tribute to Hughes, who was appointed in 1992 and retires as the Thomas Sowell Professor Emeritus of Economics:
Jim received the Kroepsch award for outstanding teaching not once, but twice. There should be no surprises about this: He loved teaching. He said, “Teaching economics anywhere, you have to get across that this matters in people’s lives. What I try to do with every concept, no matter how simple or obscure, is to try to make it clear that what we’re talking about comes up in the real world and that it makes a difference.”
When markets started tanking hard in the fall of 2008, a group of students — none of them economics majors — walked upstairs to our wing, looking terrified, begging for answers. “What is happening?!” they asked. We gathered in the hallway (where we do our best work as a department, actually, impromptu meetings in the hallway).
Jim said, “Isn’t this what we are supposed to do? Educate people?” He suggested a panel discussion; we agreed. Jim giggled and said, “Let’s call it ‘WTF? Bates Economists on the Economy.’” So we did. That we would stop what we were doing to host a panel at the request of some students was all prompted by Jim.
During his last few years teaching, Jim taught a Short Term course called, “Six Beverages That Changed the World.” Among other things in this class, students learned how to distill alcohol. Despite months of planning, the course got bumped from the teaching kitchen, so his office became the kitchen. It actually looked like a potentially unsafe chemistry lab. It likely was.
One of the last times I saw him in his office was during that Short Term. Students were sitting on the desk and on the floor surrounded by equipment. They were laughing loudly and talking. No, they were not drinking or drunk. It was just Jim being Jim: Teaching economics and teaching life lessons without students even realizing it.
Associate Professor of Economics Paul Shea offered the tribute to Maurer-Fazio, who was appointed in 1994 and retires as the Betty Doran Stangle Professor Emerita of Applied Economics:
Maggie’s most important contribution, perhaps, is her willingness to share her enthusiasm for China and economics with her students. Maggie is the epitome of the scholar-teacher that we all aspire to here at Bates. Maggie adored taking groups of Bates students to China and Vietnam, and as any one of those lucky students will tell you: They were much the better for having learned from her.
Maggie publishes prolifically in both economics and China journals, and her research has fundamentally changed the way in which we think about both entering and leaving the labor force. I am struck by how influential Maggie’s early work on the status of women in Chinese labor markets has remained. Most academic papers are published and then quickly forgotten. Not Maggie’s. Her 1999 paper in the China Review is still being cited, including 32 Google citations since 2017. More are sure to come. Her 2011 paper in the Journal of HR, one of the top journals in labor economics, has been cited 120 times since 2017.
Our colleague Michael Murray describes how Maggie and her coauthors, “eschewing small unrepresentative samples that had led to conflicting, indeed contradictory findings…used data covering much of China’s productive sectors to establish firmly that women did, indeed, earn less than otherwise similar men, with women’s marital status and the relative segregation of women into low paying sectors being two strongly contributing factors.”
For me, Maggie was the mentor that a young professor needs. She helped me to integrate into the college, introduced me to people with shared interests, and always patiently answered questions. Maggie was the person I sought out to ask the most important question any new faculty member can ever have: Is this something I should care about or not? And, the great majority of the time, she told me, “It is not.” Wise, wise words.
Associate Professor of Economics Paul Shea offered the tribute to Murray, who was appointed in 1986 and retires as the Charles Franklin Phillips Professor Emeritus of Economics:
Several years ago, as I was giving a visiting job candidate a rundown of who she would meet during her visit, I came to Michael’s place on the schedule. Without thinking, I described him as the “least cynical and most optimistic academic” that I know. I stand by that claim and I mean it as a great compliment.
As faculty, we believe in what we are doing here: Whether it is the teaching, the advising, or the scholarship. But as semesters heat up and time becomes more and more scarce, those moments of cynicism can creep in. But not for Michael. You could see his optimism in his late-night review sessions for econometrics or in his continuing, right now, to work on a paper about the economics of COVID-19.
Michael’s scholarship encompasses impressive contributions in a stunning number of fields: Urban economics, development, public economics, and economic pedagogy, just to name a few. My own work is mostly in macroeconomics, one of the few areas of the discipline that Michael hasn’t worked in. Nevertheless, Michael was always gracious in reading my papers and commenting on my presentations with suggestions that, despite his unfamiliarity with my field, have always been exceptionally useful.
Jennifer Briggs van Belle ’90 wrote how Murray taught her about critical thinking and “to look at problems from every angle.” She added:
“You got me over my fear of statistics and regression analysis and made me realize that it’s OK not to understand something the first time and OK to ask questions, which I’ve practiced in my work for 30 years and encouraged my work team to do the same. I remember sitting in your office, seeing you blackline my thesis to show me how to say more with fewer words — how it drives effective communication and how it’s worth taking time upfront to get it right. And as for the Santa Claus routine? I know it was you who went around Ladd Library saying, ‘Ho, ho, ho!’ at Christmas.”
Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences Beverly Johnson offered the tribute to Retelle, who was appointed in 1987 and retires as professor emeritus of earth and climate sciences:
I became aware of Mike Retelle back in 1991 when I was a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado. At the time, several close friends were working in the Canadian Arctic and they ran into Mike Retelle and his Bates students. My friends returned telling some pretty funny stories about Mike, but primarily they conveyed a sense of respect and intrigue for this professor who did not hesitate to bring undergrads into some pretty remote, harsh, and challenging field conditions. This was practically unheard of at the time.
Mike supervised 104 senior thesis students in his time at Bates; many of these students went with him to the Arctic and had life-changing experiences. And many of these have gone on to graduate school and faculty positions in glacial geology and Arctic climate change. These folks are leaders in the field now because of the fact that Mike Retelle took these students into the Arctic and mentored them to become the scientists they are.
Mike and his colleagues have studied Arctic climate change and glacial history for 40-plus years. He has earned funding from the National Science Foundation over his entire career— even now, he leaves with one more year of NSF funding. His knowledge and perspective are unparalleled and add a distinct flavor to the classroom and to the research experiences of his students. As one of my friends and colleagues from the Colorado days recently told me, Mike really put Bates on the map with regards to studying climate change in the Arctic.
Generations of Bates students simply loved being in Mike’s classes as he made learning about earth’s surface processes so accessible, pertinent to today’s changing world, and most importantly filled with his passion for teaching linked to his own high quality research in glacial geology and climate change.
Shepley “Chip” Ross
Professor of Mathematics Peter Wong offered the tribute to Ross, who was appointed in 1985 and retires as professor emeritus of mathematics:
Chaotic dynamical systems are the primary interests in Chip’s research in the past 35-plus years. He was drawn to this partially due to the beautiful computer-generated pictures of the Mandelbrot and the Julia sets (or fractals) from complex function dynamics.
If I can only have one word to summarize Chip’s career at Bates then it would be passionate! (With an exclamation point — Chip uses many such exclamation points and when he uses multiple points you know they are exclamation points and not factorials.) Chip is very passionate about teaching and, in particular, about chaotic dynamical systems. He can easily spend many hours tweaking his computer programs or his typesetting to produce exactly the kind of results he wants.
In the late 1990s, Chip and Jody Sorensen, a visiting assistant professor, team-taught a class on chaotic dynamical systems. Their students’ work inspired a paper, “Will the Real Bifurcation Diagram Please Stand Up!” Jody recalls how Chip “would stay up all hours to make some small adjustments to improve his bifurcation diagram software.” The paper was published in The College Mathematics Journal and won a prestigious George Pólya Award — for excellence in exposition — from the American Mathematical Association in 2001.
Chris Danforth ’01, a Bates math major, is now a professor of computer science at the University of Vermont. He recalls working with Chip on his thesis project, on chaos.
“Chip suggested I place a phone call to one of the leaders in the field, Jim Yorke, for advice. ‘Maybe he’ll pick up,’ he said. Against every imposter syndrome instinct in me, I did call…and he answered! We talked about my research project, a fluid dynamics experiment, and eventually Yorke offered me a position in his research group for graduate school.
“Life is sensitively dependent on many events, and one isn’t always aware of their importance while they are happening. Chip’s nudge steered me into a terrific basin of attraction. What more could a professor do.”
Stella James Sims Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Paula Schlax offered the tribute to Wenzel, who was appointed in 1981 and retires as Charles A. Dana Emeritus Professor of Chemistry:
In his career, Tom led the charge in transforming chemistry curricula not just at Bates but across the U.S.
After receiving tenure, Tom changed his courses by having students ask and answer real research problems to better learn the skills that scientists need. He wrote about these transformations in his teaching saying that “every group encountered some unexpected problem or outcome that required troubleshooting on their part” and “these unexpected problems were often the most valuable part of the project.” Troubleshooting is at the heart of critical thinking and the development of scientific acumen.
In our department, Tom normalized a culture of grant-funded, collaborative research and he moved Bates ahead of the curve of incorporating research experiences as a curricular requirement for a chemistry or biochemistry major. Tom lists about 140 undergrad co-authors on his more than 90 research articles and book chapters.
Tom’s approach incorporated group work, collaborative exams, and active learning. They were student-focused and innovative, and we know that they are methods that support the success of students in STEM from diverse backgrounds.
Tom developed an introductory chemistry course where students also had the chance, as first-years, to focus on an authentic research experience in environmental science, examining whether acid rain would change the uptake of heavy metals in plants. He shared insights and experiences from teaching that course with nearly 40 publications related to chemistry education and six publications on the active-learning website of the American Chemical Society.
Tom successfully championed the idea that future scientists need to learn how to be scientists by doing lab work and theory, in his laboratory and in courses that teach these research skills. One of Tom’s former students, who is now a teacher, said, “My students benefit from Tom Wenzel’s teaching in how I approach my classes, incorporate research experiences, and tell them directly that I believe in them. His influence lives on.”