Speeches and Statements

  • ‘The Project of Truth-Seeking’: Remarks at Convocation, Aug. 31, 2021
    I would like to think with you this morning about a project that is central to everything we do at Bates and, I hope, central to what you wish to get out of your college experience: the project of truth-seeking. …
  • May 2021 Financial Update for Faculty & Staff
    Dear Colleagues, As we approach the end of the academic and fiscal years, I write to share an update on the state of college finances and some financial actions that we will undertake for the benefit of faculty and staff….
  • Statement on Chauvin Verdict
    The verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin is in, and in this one, singular case, a measure of justice has been done. That it feels so exceptional tells us how deep the struggle for racial justice in this country…
  • Standing with Our Asian and Asian-American Community Members
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, As the world struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to see an appalling rise in anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes across the country. Last night, our nation witnessed a horrific series of…
  • Information about Commencement 2021
    Dear Members of the Class of 2021, I write today to share information about Commencement and how we plan to celebrate and formally mark your graduation from Bates in May.  Last week, Maine Governor Janet Mills issued an Executive Order that eased…
  • Statement on Recent National Events
    Dear Members of the Bates Community: Yesterday’s assault on our nation’s Capitol was both predictable and profoundly shocking. With the president urging them on, armed mobs invaded the literal seat of our democracy in order to disrupt the certification of…
  • Winter 2021 Announcement
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, I write to share important news about a shift in our calendar for the winter semester in response to developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the new plan, Bates will extend the winter break…
  • The Work of Antiracism at Bates: Progress Update
    Creation of a Trustee Committee on Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism To reinforce our commitment to the work of antiracism at every level of the institution, this summer the Bates College Board of Trustees formed a Committee on Equity, Inclusion, and…
  • Financial Update for Faculty & Staff
    Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues, I write to share a few brief updates and to announce several financial actions that we are undertaking to benefit Bates employees. This message summarizes matters that we discussed this afternoon on a webinar for…
  • Bates Community Letter: Fall 2020
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, As we head into the fourth week of the first semester, I write with an update on how we are managing this fall’s unique challenges and to give you a sense of some important…
  • Welcome Remarks at Convocation 2020
    Good afternoon. Welcome to the opening convocation of the new academic year. We do not know how this year will unfold, and we continue to live, in all aspects of our lives, with more than the usual quotient of trepidation…
  • A Few Thoughts as We Open the Year
    Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues, Beginning this weekend, we will welcome students back to campus for what will surely be one of the most unusual academic years in the history of Bates. Already, the campus is beginning to come alive,…
  • Response to Petition on Fall 2020 Plans
    Dear Members of the Bates Community: Last week, senior staff colleagues and I received a petition raising various questions with respect to our plans for the fall semester. The petition offers a set of considered viewpoints on many of the…
  • Fall 2020 Announcement
  • The Work of Antiracism at Bates
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, In light of the national crisis arising from ongoing police killings of black people and accompanying public outrage at the ways in which we persist in diminishing the value of black lives, I wanted…
  • Racism and Educational Mission
    On behalf of Bates College, I condemn these acts of extreme cruelty and the long history of racial injustice and violence against black, brown, and indigenous people that have made them possible and dangerously routine.
  • A Pause to Acknowledge
    Bates President Clayton Spencer, VP for Equity and Inclusion Noelle Chaddock, and Bates Multifaith Chaplain Brittany Longsdorf take a moment to reflect and pause as our nation grapples with the recent, yet sadly familiar events, of continuing race-based violence.
  • Reply to May 8, 2020 Letter from Faculty and Staff
    Dear Colleagues, Many thanks for your letter, dated May 8 and signed by 52 members of faculty and staff and an additional 74 anonymous individuals, concerning issues arising out of the current COVID crisis, its financial implications for the college…
  • Planning for Next Academic Year
    Dear Bates Students and Families, Now that we have reached the end of a winter semester none of us could have imagined, I want to share an update on how we are planning for the fall and the next academic…
  • Community Message: Revised Title IX Regulations
    Dear Members of the Bates Community: Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights released revised regulations governing the handling of sexual misconduct on college campuses under Title IX. The new rules will go into effect on August…
  • April 27: Update on financial impact of COVID-19
    Dear Colleagues, As we enter another week of managing through a global crisis that has disrupted our personal and professional lives at a level inconceivable a few short months ago, I write with important information about the impact of the…
  • Faculty-Staff Working Group on Fall Planning and College Finances
    Dear Colleagues: As we enter the last week of classes for the semester, I write to provide an update on the college’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and share plans for how we are organizing ourselves to address some…
  • Announcement About Reunion Weekend 2020
    Dear Bates Alumni, I write today to share what I know will be disappointing news: Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Reunion Weekend 2020. Given where we are in the current pandemic, we…
  • Announcement About Commencement
    Dear Seniors, I write today with important information about plans for this year’s Commencement. Given where we stand with the global pandemic, it is clear that it would be neither safe nor prudent for us to host an in-person Commencement…
  • Message to Faculty and Staff: Thank You!
    Dear Bates Faculty and Staff, Tomorrow we head into our first week of teaching our students remotely and into yet another week of continual adjustment to this new and strange reality. This experience is stressful and disorienting for everyone, and…
  • Greetings from Campus
    Dear Students and Families, I hope that by now most of you are settled in at home or somewhere else safe and are beginning to adjust to this new and strange reality. These past two weeks have been stressful and…
  • Confirmed Case of COVID-19
    Dear Members of the Bates Community: I write to inform you that a member of our community has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual has been at home in self-isolation for a number of days while receiving the necessary care…
  • Important COVID-19 Update for Staff
    Dear Colleagues: I write with an important update about the college’s continued response to the COVID-19 situation. Beginning immediately, Bates will transition to a remote working model for any employees whose physical presence on campus is not required to carry…
  • Urgent Information About Timely Departure from Campus
    Dear Students, I write to ask that you respond with a greater sense of urgency to the public health crisis that confronts us and depart campus as soon as possible. We know from meal counts in Commons and residence hall…
  • March 13 COVID-19 Announcement
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, I write to share important news about Bates’ response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. As I wrote to you earlier this week, because of our unique academic calendar, with our winter semester well-advanced…
  • Message Regarding College Response to COVID-19
    Dear Families, Many of you may have heard the news that one of our NESCAC peer institutions has announced that the college will move to remote learning so that students can complete their learning off campus beginning March 23, after…
  • Bates Community Letter: Fall 2019
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, Welcome to the 2019–20 academic year! I write to share news of recent progress and outline institutional plans and priorities for the year ahead. The Bates Community First, I want to offer a special…
  • Update on Veterans Project
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, I write with an update on the planned Veterans Recognition Project at Bates, which was announced last May. A Veterans Recognition Project Committee, comprising students, faculty, staff, and alumni, began work last summer to…
  • Bates Letter to U.S. Department of Education on Title IX
    Dear Members of the Bates Community: As you may know, in November 2018, the U.S. Department of Education proposed revised regulations governing the handling of sexual misconduct on college campuses under Title IX. We write today to let you know…
  • Bates Community Letter: Fall 2018
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, As we settle into the rhythms of the new academic year, I write to share with you goals and aspirations for the year ahead and to provide some context on priorities and progress in…
  • Remarks at Convocation: Fall 2018
    “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I’m sure that many of you are familiar with this statement, made famous by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Veterans’ Recognition at Bates
      Dear Members of the Bates Community, I am pleased to share with you our plan to create a public space on campus to recognize the service and sacrifice of members of the Bates community who are military veterans and…
  • Announcement of Professorship Appointments in 2017–18
    I am delighted to announce the appointment of five faculty members to endowed professorships, effective in 2017–18.
  • Bates Community Letter: Fall 2017
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, Now that we have settled into the 2017–18 academic year, I write to share with you some of the plans and priorities that I hope will guide our work together. As I mentioned at…
  • Statement on Decision to End Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Policy
    We are deeply disappointed by President Trump’s cruel decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. Ending this program runs counter to core American ideals and will cause unnecessary fear and uncertainty for thousands of students and…
  • Remarks at Convocation: Fall 2017
    I cannot remember a time in my professional experience when matters of context and principle have intruded so insistently into the project of teaching the next generation of students.
  • Standing with Charlottesville
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, The events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, based on hatred, bigotry, and deeply twisted notions of white supremacy, represent an assault on values fundamental to our nation and our democracy. The violence that…
  • Update and Findings of Independent Investigation
    Dear Members of the Bates Community: I write to share the findings of the investigation into an incident that occurred on campus on Saturday, May 13; to outline actions the college will take to address issues relating to campus security…
  • Update on Recent Campus Events
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, As this week comes to a close, I write to share an update on the incident that occurred at a dance this past Saturday, May 13, involving a black male student, event staff members,…
  • Message to the Bates Community
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, On Saturday night, at a campus party hosted by the Women of Color student group, there was an incident between a student, staff who serve as event support assistants, and security officers. Because of…
  • Update on Dean of Faculty Transition and Search
    I write to share my thinking and seek your advice about the transition in the Dean of Faculty role.
  • Statement on Executive Order Regarding Immigration
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, This past Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that, among other things, bans nationals from seven countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for at least…
  • Response to Open Letter Regarding Undocumented Students
    In early December, The Bates Student printed an open letter asking the Bates administration to announce the measures we will take to protect the rights and status of undocumented students and seek “official status as a sanctuary campus for undocumented…
  • A message to the Bates community
    Dear Members of the Bates Community, I hope Thanksgiving provided time with family and friends and an opportunity for restoration after an intense couple of months. As we head into the final sprint to winter break, I want to follow…
  • The passing of Katie Vale
    I write to share the shocking and profoundly sad news that Katie Vale, our vice president for information and library services and librarian, died yesterday, Sunday, November 27, after suffering cardiac arrest.
  • A message to the Bates community
    Last night marked the end of one of the most divisive and vitriolic presidential campaigns in recent U.S. history.
  • Information about Election Day and registering to vote
    This weekend, a flyer was circulated on the Bates campus with false information about tomorrow’s election and what our students need to do to register to vote.
  • Bates Community Letter: Fall 2016
    With opening days behind us, the Class of 2020 duly welcomed, and new and returning students ensconced in their dorms, classes, and activities, I write to share news from campus and provide a preview of the year ahead.
  • Letter to the campus community
    I write in response to events that are happening on campuses across the nation and to make you aware of a unique opportunity for considered conversation on race and inclusiveness in higher education that is happening on the Bates campus this weekend.
  • Remarks at the inauguration of Valerie Smith, president of Swarthmore College
    In Val Smith, you have chosen an inspired and inspiring leader.
  • ‘Co-Creating Our World’: Remarks at Convocation, Sept. 8, 2015
    This morning we call you together to constitute you formally as the Class of 2019 and to mark your entry into the academic community.
  • Bates Community Letter: Fall 2015
    I write to share the sense of excitement we feel, to highlight areas of focus for the fall, and to invite your engagement with, and suggestions about, all things Bates.
  • Remarks to Bishop’s University Class of 2015
    Chancellor, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, members of the Platform Party, graduating students, families and friends, thank you for the honor of receiving a degree from Bishop’s University and for the privilege of sharing in this day of celebration. Since I arrived…
  • President Clayton Spencer’s letter about recent campus events
    I thought it might be helpful to share facts about recent events and give a sense of the principles and values that guide my thinking about how to honor what is most important about Bates as we work together to move the institution forward.
  • Welcome remarks at MLK Day Keynote, Jan. 19, 2015
    To state the obvious, this year’s topic, “From Selma to Ferguson: 50 years of Nonviolent Dissent,” could not be more timely.
  • ‘The Challenge of Community’: Remarks at Convocation, Sept. 2, 2014
    Good morning. Welcome to the opening convocation of this new academic year. Members of the faculty, welcome back after what I hope has been a restorative summer. Welcome, members of the staff — it is exciting to see so many of…
  • Bates Community Letter: Fall 2014
    I write to share news and plans at the start of a new academic year, my third as president of the college. As I have said before, serving Bates as president is a source of great personal joy, even as we tackle inevitable challenges. Every day I am struck by the dedication of our faculty, the energy of our students, the pride of our staff, and the solidarity and support of alumni, parents, and friends in sustaining the work and sense of common feeling that make Bates such an extraordinary college and community.
  • President Clayton Spencer’s statement on climate change and divestment
    I write to outline important aspects of our institutional response to the urgent problem of climate change and to address the question of whether the college should divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry.
  • President Clayton Spencer’s statement on the boycott of Israeli academic institutions
    On behalf of Bates College, I reject unequivocally the boycott of Israeli universities that was recently passed by a majority of the members of the American Studies Association.
  • Bates Community Letter: Fall 2013
    I write to share with you developments at the college as we welcome the Class of 2017 and begin a new academic year.
  • ‘Some Thoughts on Work’: Remarks at Convocation, Sept. 3, 2013
    Thank you, Brent, and thank you, Matt, for those very thoughtful reflections. I am going to direct my remarks today in particular to you, our first-year students, and I want to speak about a subject that you might expect to…
  • ‘Questions Worth Asking’: President Clayton Spencer’s Inaugural Address, Oct. 26, 2012
    Well, I guess now I really am the eighth president of Bates College. It is an enormous honor and a humbling trust. Thank you Mike, Marcus, Umar, Lynn, and Danny for making it official. And thank you, Drew, for those…
  • Remarks at Convocation: Sept. 4, 2012
    Welcome back, faculty, staff and returning students, to the beginning of a new year. And welcome, Class of 2016, to the Bates community. As I mentioned to you on Saturday, I feel a special bond with you, as I am…
  • Video remarks from President Clayton Spencer
    Watch video remarks from Bates’ eighth President, Clayton Spencer Educating the whole person: Why Bates? The liberal arts: Bates as an educational leader: Diversity and excellence: Access and affordability: Leadership: The late Peter Gomes ’65: Her intellectual awakening: The family…
  • President-elect Clayton Spencer’s first remarks
    Remarks by President-elect Clayton Spencer on Dec. 4, 2011, following her introduction by Mike Bonney ’80, chair of the Bates Board of Trustees: Wow. Thank you so much. Mike, thank you for your overly generous words — I was sitting…