Team and History

In May 2013, President Clayton Spencer convened a working group of Bates faculty, staff and students to “develop a conceptual case for ‘purposeful work’ as a core concern of the liberal arts, and to create a plan for a specific set of steps we will take as a college to translate that commitment into action.”

The Purposeful Work Working Group met bi-monthly through May 2014, culminating in the release of their Purposeful Work Final Report.

Download Final Report (PDF)

Over the next two years, the Bates College Purposeful Work Design Team will focus on program design, evaluation and implementation of the working group’s recommendations. The Design Team is supported by a Purposeful Work Advisory Board, a group of faculty, staff and students who meet on a monthly basis.


Purposeful Work Design Team Members

Rebecca Fraser-Thill, Director of Program Design, Purposeful Work

Rebecca Fraser-Thill headshotRebecca has been interested in purposeful work ever since she received her BA from Drew University and had no clue what to do next. She spent her twenties earning a Masters in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University and teaching in the Psychology Department at Bates, but there remained a lingering question of “what am I supposed to be doing with my life?” She gradually realized that asking that question through research and supporting others as they develop their own identities is what charges her up. She is thrilled to now be the Director of Program Design for Purposeful Work, in addition to remaining an active member of the Psychology Department. Rebecca has shared her thoughts about meaningful work in a variety of outlets, including The Huffington Post, HuffPostLive,, and the Stacking Benjamins podcast, in addition to on her own website, Working Self.


Marianne Nolan Cowan ’92, Associate Director of Program Design, Purposeful Work

Marianne Cowan headshotMarianne has been building bridges between Bates people since she came back to campus in 2000 to work as a young alumna. A French major at Bates, she went on to graduate school with the dream of teaching at a college as invigorating and community-oriented as Bates, when suddenly the program design and faculty development work she was doing “on the side” at the University of Buffalo’s medical school grabbed her interest much more than teaching French in the classroom. With a Master’s in French, it was back to Lewiston. After 14 years fostering Bates alumni and parent relationships through  volunteer programs, events and fundraising, she is thrilled to be connecting many of the same loyal Batesies to new opportunities to enhance the curriculum and co-curriculum through the Purposeful Work initiative’s Practitioner-Taught Short Term courses, Infusion Project, speaker events, and more.


Purposeful Work Working Group Members (convened May 2013-May 2014)

Co-Chairs:  Darby Ray, Michael Sargent

Lead Staff:  Christina Estabrook

Faculty:  Rebecca Corrie, Rebecca Fraser-Thill, Rebecca Herzig (Spring, Summer 2013), Emily Kane, Nathan Lundblad (Summer, Fall 2013), Robert Strong, Paula Jean Schlax, Mara Tieken, Thomas Tracy, Crystal Williams

Staff:  Ellen Alcorn, Jeremy Cluchey, Marianne Cowan, Colleen Coxe, Kent Fischer, David McDonough, Kevin McHugh, Christina Patrick, Carl Steidel, Megan Taft

Students:  Tenzin Namdol ’15, Caroline Richards ’14


Purposeful Work Advisory Board Members (convened September 2014-present)

Faculty: Ryan Bavis, Rebecca Fraser-Thill, Margaret Imber, Emily Kane, Michael Murray, Darby Ray, Tom Tracy

Staff:  Ellen Alcorn, Marianne Cowan, Julisa De Los Santos, David McDonough, Josh McIntosh, Christina Patrick, Kelsy Ross

Students:  Maya Cates-Carney ’16, Kate Moody ’17