Bates College raised a record-setting $345.7 million in gifts and pledges during its recently concluded fundraising campaign, announced President Clayton Spencer.

Publicly launched in 2017 with a goal of $300 million, the Bates Campaign closed on June 30, 2022, with gifts and pledges totaling $345,745,082. 

More than 19,000 donors contributed to the effort, establishing successively higher Bates records for total annual giving in four of the five years of the campaign’s public phase. 

“The ‘why’ of the Bates Campaign has never been more self-evident — to support the success of our talented students who will do their part to make the world a better place,” said President Spencer, seen at Commencement 2022 with Zoe Gallate, an American studies major, as they turn toward the Commencement photographer. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

“We owe the success of the Bates Campaign to the exceptional generosity of our alumni, parents, friends, faculty, staff, and students,” said Spencer. “Today, we are better resourced and equipped to broaden access to a Bates education and to offer a life-transforming experience for our students. With a new academic year before us, the ‘why’ of the Bates Campaign has never been more self-evident — to support the success of our talented students who will do their part to make the world a better place.”

The most striking embodiment of the campaign’s success was the construction of the new Bonney Science Center, a centerpiece of the college’s $75 million investment to drive the evolution of science education and to transform the college’s approach to STEM teaching and research.

The funding and opening of the new Bonney Science Center in fall 2021 is part of a $75 million investment to drive the evolution of science education at Bates. (Photography courtesy of Payette)
The funding and opening of the new Bonney Science Center in fall 2021 is part of a $75 million investment to drive the evolution of science education at Bates. (Photography courtesy of Payette)

Opened in the fall of 2021, the Bonney Center was funded by a $50 million campaign gift, one of the largest monetary gifts ever to a Maine college, from the family foundation of Michael Bonney ’80 and Alison Grott Bonney ’80. Co-chair of the campaign and a chair of the Bates College Board of Trustees for nine years, Michael Bonney received an honorary degree from the college at this year’s commencement. 

“Five years ago we publicly announced the Bates Campaign with great conviction, firm in our shared belief that Bates and Bates graduates can help meet the challenges facing our nation and world,” said Mike Bonney. “Through the generosity of our community, we have renewed hope and belief that Bates and Bates people are, and always will be, contributors of solutions.”

Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College
Etti Cooper ’22 (left) and Ryan Bavis, Helen A. Papaioanou Professor of Biological Sciences, confer about her honors thesis research.
(Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Fellow trustees Geraldine FitzGerald ’75 and John Gillespie ’80 joined Bonney as campaign co-chairs. “Mike, Geri, and John were superb campaign co-chairs for so many reasons,” Spencer said. “But I will emphasize two in particular — authenticity and ambition. Their love for Bates and their devotion to making us the best version of who we can be is genuine and compelling. When they talk about Bates, what they say is meaningful because it is ambitious, and it is real and true.”

FitzGerald noted how, as an alumna approaching her 50th Reunion, “it is not surprising, but as always, simply amazing how our community has once again powerfully come together during the Bates Campaign. When we kicked off the campaign five years ago, I knew that there was work ahead. But I also knew that as Bates alumni, we would find joy in our striving together — because we believe in Bates.”

A member of the Board of Trustees since 2003, Gillespie succeeded Bonney as board chair in 2019. “My experience on the board, and now as its chair, has created a keen awareness that a successful Bates Campaign depended in large part on significantly increasing the college’s permanent investments,” he said. Including gifts to professorships, scholarship funds, and other new endowed funds, $138 million has been added to the college’s permanent endowment.”

From left, Mike Bonney ’80, Geraldine FitzGerald ’75, and John Gillespie ’80 served as co-chairs of the Bates Campaign. “Their love for Bates and their devotion to making us the best version of who we can be is genuine and compelling,” said President Spencer. (Rene Roy for Bates College)

The Bates Campaign was shaped by a college-wide institutional planning process in 2016, which produced a framework of priorities to guide Bates’ institutional growth. The campaign’s resulting four priorities emphasized academics, facilities, financial aid, student programs, and endowment, raising the following amounts.

The Bates Campaign concluded June 30, 2022, with gifts and pledges of $345.7 million.
Driving Academic Excellence

Raised: $90,284,189.20

Donor gifts funded the college’s equity-driven plan to create an integrated system of science facilities. In addition to the opening of Bonney Science Center, a second component of the college’s STEM investment is a complete renovation of Dana Hall. A former chemistry building, Dana Hall reopens this academic year as the home of introductory education in biology and chemistry, also offering state-of-the-art general classrooms for use by all academic departments. 

Donors also gave:

Supervised by Holly Ewing, Christian A. Johnson Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, environmental studies major Christopher Castaneda ’20 takes water samples from Lake Auburn. He’s studying nutrients produced by algae and consumed by other organisms in the lake. Related to the impacts of algae blooms on water quality, the research supports community efforts to deliver unfiltered public water at the lowest price. On the boat with Water treatment manager and lab director Chris Curtis (in blue shirt) and Lindsay Bates and Dan Fortin, water quality technicians (Bruins sweatshirt)
Bates professor Holly Ewing and environmental studies major Topher Castaneda ’20 take water samples from Lake Auburn during fieldwork in 2019 related to research on algae blooms by Ewing, who is the Christian A. Johnson Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies. Campaign donors gave $21 million to establish seven new endowed professorships. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Investing in Opportunity

Raised: $135,220,123.06
Donor gifts strengthened support for need-based financial aid, providing the opportunity for talented students to attend Bates regardless of their families’ financial circumstances.  

Gifts and pledges to this priority included a recent challenge grant of $50 million to fuel a $100 million expansion of financial aid to students from America’s lowest-income families.

Matthew Hamilton '25 for Bates College
Student dancers pose in Bonney Science Center prior to a concert in 2022. A major thrust of the Bates Campaign is to strengthen the college’s financial aid program, which offers scholarship grants on the basis of a student’s demonstrated financial need. The campaign sought $75 million for its financial aid priority, Investing in Opportunity; donors gave nearly double that. (Matthew Hamilton ’25 for Bates College)

Catalyzing Student Success

Raised: $20,936,970.31

Donor gifts funded student leadership programs, the Bates Center for Purposeful Work, and an array of programs known as the Inclusive Bates Experience to better support the differentiated needs of students who come to Bates from a wider variety of backgrounds than ever before. 

Donors gave:

  • $4.7 million to support the Inclusive Bates Experience, including the college’s Bobcat First program for first-generation college students
  • $10.6 million to support Purposeful Work, including more than $4 million to expand the number of paid Purposeful Work internships.
  • $4 million to support athletics, including funding of the Traquina Boathouse on the Androscoggin River for the championship Bates rowing program.
Arturo Olmos for Bates College
Kendall Williams ‘23 of Phenix City, Ala., had a Bates-funded Purposeful Work internship with the multinational consulting firm Accenture in Houston over the summer. Williams worked in the firm’s Technology Development Program, aligned in Security Practice. Bates Campaign donors gave $10.6 million to support the Bates Center for Purposeful Work. (Arturo Olmos for Bates College)

Building Financial Sustainability

Raised: $84,460,164.81

Donor gifts increased the college’s unrestricted endowment funds and provided key support to the college through the Bates Fund. 

Donors gave $14 million in new unrestricted endowment, and increased their giving to the Bates Fund by $1 million annually, from $6.5 million per year to $7.5 million.

Anna Landgren '22 brandishes her diploma at Commencement on May 29, 2022. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
Anna Landgren ’22, who graduated with a major in Chinese, showes off her diploma at Commencement on May 29, 2022. Bates Campaign donors gave $84.5 million to build the college’s financial sustainability. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Additional Gifts

Raised: $14,843,634.22

Donors gave an additional $14.8 million in gifts and pledges beyond the four specific priorities of the Bates Campaign.


“Through their generosity and support, the Bates community has generated valuable momentum for the college — a feeling of progress made, and of optimism for our future,” said Vice President for College Advancement Eric Foushée. A member of the Bates advancement team since 2014, Foushée recently succeeded Sarah R. Pearson ’75, who retired June 30 following a decade of service as vice president.

“Sarah was the architect of the Bates Campaign.” added Foushée. “Her strategic vision and expertise in structuring a fundraising effort of this scope and duration ensured the success of the campaign even in the face of a global pandemic. I am honored to continue to champion the mission of Bates and build on our success.

“I also want to thank the members of the Bates advancement team and colleagues across the campus who took up the work with great passion and diligence to present Bates in the best and most authentic way to our donors and to ensure that their experiences were as positive, personal, and excellent as possible.”

Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College
Fireworks over Lake Andrews, Pettengill Hall, and historic Hathorn Hall during Reunion on June 10, 2022. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

View Comments