Goals
2005


This is a vision for Bates as one of the nation's finest undergraduate colleges. A vision must capture the College's many strengths, its inclusive community and culture, its commitments to the rigor of learning, to individual worth and collective engag ement, and to respect for fairness. It must reflect the persisting usefulness and inherent worth of liberal learning.

  • Bates will remain a distinctive learning community, honoring academic achievement and recognizing individual expression, the centrality of responsibility, and the dignity and value of difference.

  • Bates will strengthen and build on its persisting qualities, programs and culture as it encourages actions that will further distinguish it and its graduates.

  • The College will develop the connections and cohesion that add to its programs and opportunities, thereby expressing more fully the promise of a liberal arts and sciences education, giving it flexibility, sustained usefulness, and vitality.

Introduction

Throughout our discussions with the College community, the Committee has heard what Bates must be in 2005:

  • "Bates must remain academically vigorous: in addition to demanding efforts, it must continue to expect and praise creativity, persistence, engagement, and interaction. It must encourage directions for students that may be novel or untried."

  • "Teaching and learning must be our priorities. The classical liberal arts and sciences as well as interdisciplinary studies, a thesis or senior project, and intense but collegial interactions with faculty and fellow students must each be emphas ized."

  • "Bates must remain a college with a recognizable and persistent culture: welcoming, friendly, challenging, supportive, open, and accessible. It must become more diverse and value that diversity. It must remain a community with an egalitarian tenor, drawing from a Maine self-reliance that rejects pretentiousness."

  • "Bates must continue to work by participation, retaining the vitality that is expressed in everything from the Outing Club, to debate, to athletic programs, to collaborative laboratories, to engagement in research, to noonday concerts, and open, ca mpuswide social events."

  • "The College and the Maine communities of which it is a part must reinforce the interdependency which brings benefit to both."

  • "Bates must be recognized as one of the nation's finest undergraduate colleges, both for its academic reputation and its unique culture."

Bates is among the most attractive colleges in the country experiencing dramatic increases in applications and achieving among the highest yield rates within our overlap institutions. Eighty-five to ninety percent of our students earn Bates degrees, one of the highest graduation rates in America. Bates plans to continue to flourish.

The Bates of 2005 must reflect and retain the strengths it enjoys today. But Bates must be and do more. The future will require careful planning and hard choices. What will be needed? How will the future make new demands?

Bates and the Future

The College's strategic planning is built on assumptions about the future environment that Bates will face. As an institution, we are committed to learning in the liberal arts and sciences, even while many colleges and universities will move to focus o n specialized higher education. We expect increased competition from the public sector of higher education, and we anticipate the changing demographics of future students. We understand the anxiety about the high and escalating cost of private higher educ ation and about our accessibility to talented students with inadequate financial resources. We are aware that despite our careful stewarding of our resources, many institutions that compete with us will have larger endowments, and can afford to increase, relatively, their accessibility.

These changes require adaptations in how and where we recruit students, in the patterns of financial aid we offer, and in which student services we make available. Political and economic globalization require that we prepare our students for a more com plex, interconnected world. Our students represent a generation that is simultaneously sophisticated and (reflecting the broader society) often estranged and disconnected, making interconnections even more of a challenge.

We must reexamine how we are organized to provide educational experiences and services. How will we integrate technological changes and the exponential increase in accessible information? How will we retain our core qualities while we control costs and increase resources from non-fee income to maintain affordability of access to the College? How will we continue to reflect a greater national appeal of the College in our student body, and at the same time become more diverse while remaining cohesive? An d how will we champion the inherent worth and persisting usefulness of a liberal arts education? The answers will not be easy. The future will bring both recurring challenges and new demands not all of which can be predicted, but for which Bates must plan and prepare. What has been central to a liberal arts and sciences education at Bates must rema in and be reinforced. At the same time, there will be new challenges that will not be met if we only affirm what we have done or been in the past.

  • The "information explosion," and the developing uses of technology that make greater access to information possible, will present not only challenges to how access is achieved, but will also shift the authority and control of information.

  • The fragmentation and fractionalization of knowledge will continue as depth in fields of inquiry increases, making the characterization of what is known, the connection of research to teaching and learning, and the synthesis of knowledge all the mo re important and difficult.

  • What needs to be explored with academic rigor may lie at the boundaries of disciplines, or in the synthesizing of approaches and methods from multiple disciplines. Neuroscience's study of the brain and intelligent behavior, or women's studies' inqu iry into the dimensions of gender are recent examples. What new studies will emerge requiring new connections?

  • The increasing dependency on collaboration on joint discovery, as well as the joint expression and communication of what is learned requires new skills and reconsideration of intellectual responsibility and evaluation. The need for greater coll aboration already characterizes the professional work and lives of our graduates. How will we assist our students to develop these skills?

How will we balance the study of traditional intellectual heritages with alternative traditions? How will we provide a supportive, engaged community when faculty and staff are cautious about taking on additional roles, as they maintain the difficult ba lances in their own professional and personal lives? How will we build a learning community, while simultaneously encouraging students to make connections to experiences beyond the College and to their responsibilities as educated citizens? How will we ad dress the needs of present students, and challenge them to think critically about the relationships among human communities and alternatives to the culture of entitlement? And how will Trustees and alumni, who are responsible for the College, understand w hat Bates needs from them and their leadership?

Such questions have stimulated our conversations in the planning effort; the step of developing a shared vision for Bates provides a sense of direction, and sets us apart as an institution.

Bates's Core Strengths

Bates is among the finest residential colleges of the liberal arts and sciences. The excellent quality of the faculty, and its teaching, continue to be the College's premier strength. The research and scholarly activities of faculty members, and increa singly of students working with the faculty, are extraordinary. The College is recognized for its academic programs in both traditional disciplines, as well as in emerging interdisciplinary fields. And the students who participate in the College's program s excel; they come to Bates with strong qualifications and they achieve.

As a community, Bates is inclusive and supportive. It enjoys a rich history and an egalitarian student culture. It is becoming more diverse and gaining in its appreciation that excellence requires diversity. It also recognizes that learning is not excl usively bound to the classroom that the curricular and the extracurricular can be integrated, as well as connected to the world and experiences beyond Bates. Students graduate understanding the lasting value of learning; they succeed in their profession s and acknowledge the College as a significant factor in their achievements.

The College remains prudently managed and financially stable. It is succeeding in raising more financial resources which will increase its endowment and decrease fee dependency both of which will be needed to assure that Bates continues to be afforda ble. The campus, its facilities, and its maintenance also remain strategic assets; these physical strengths have been augmented in recent years by investments in plant and in technologies that reinforce the fundamental elements of our teaching and learnin g mission.

Bates also continues to balance traditional attention to the content of disciplines and interdisciplinary studies (the "what" of our undergraduate curriculum) with equal effort to understanding "how" students learn, how they claim responsibility for be coming learners, and how the various parts of their experiences fit together (which explains why we provide flexible, individual attention and a special community that supports student engagement). Bates must continue to excel at providing both emphases, for the balance of each is central to our appeal and our success.

The Vision for Bates and Its Basic Themes

A vision must capture the College's many strengths, its inclusive community and culture, and its commitments to the rigor of learning, to individual worth and collective engagement, and to respect for fairness. It must reflect the persisting usefulness and inherent worth of liberal learning.

The vision for Bates is that it will remain a distinctive learning community, honoring academic achievement and recognizing individual expression, the centrality of responsibility, and the dignity and value of difference. Bates will strengthen and build on its persisting qualities, programs and culture as it encourages actions that will further distinguish it and its graduates.

The College will develop the connections and cohesion that add to its programs and opportunities, thereby expressing more fully the promise of a liberal arts and sciences education, giving it flexibility, sustained usefulness, and vitality.*

By 2005, Bates will:

  1. Excel in the quality of its programs and offerings and in establishing greater connections among teaching, learning and scholarship (including those supported by collaboration and the uses of new technologies);

  2. Encourage students to be full partners in this community of learners and to take greater responsibility for their own critical thinking, behavior and learning;

  3. Emphasize that there are multiple ways of learning;

  4. Confirm that the value of an education is not only in the acquisition of knowledge, but also in the transformation of students' lives and in connecting learning to the larger world;

  5. Manage carefully the College's resources, facilities, and environment, so that the Bates community thrives and progresses and the College remains affordable;

  6. Value change and expand involvement and engagement of members of the Bates community in collaborative efforts that advance the College's mission.

Bates will be understood and valued as a special academic community. It will celebrate the contributions of individual members while connecting the College to the local area and to the world beyond. At Bates, learning, like teaching and scholarship, wi ll be integrative. The College will be organized as a flexible, reflective institution, valuing the independence and interaction of its people. The activities of the College will engage those who work and study here; and it will provide times, places, res ources, technologies, and encouragement for learning and growth.

This is a vision for Bates as one of the nation's finest undergraduate colleges.

* These connections will include explicit objectives to join elements of the curricular and the extracurricular, disciplinary and interdisciplinary studies, off campus and on campus programs, critical skills and deepened knowledge of subjects, more mea ningful interaction of the lives of faculty and staff with those of students, and more explicit linkages between what students learn at Bates and what they will experience beyond the College.

Where Will This Vision Lead Bates?

The fundamental mission of the College remains. The vision places liberal learning at the center of what we do, and recognizes our historic commitment to undergraduate education and to the preparation of our students for lives of leadership and contrib ution to a more complex world. We choose not to rest on what we now do well, but to build on it.

Given our vision, for what will Bates be known and valued in 2005? Learning and the appreciation of its multiple expressions in the tradition of the liberal arts will be Bates's core competency. The College will be understood as a supportive and just community where students are expected to be responsible and engaged in their education. It will be recognized for achieving diversity in its many forms while cohering as a community. Students will be engaged, participating in those activities that complement the curriculum from the recital hall to the playing fields.

The College will be valued as an academic community that insists on reflection and the critical appraisal of ideas, where teaching and research are mutually supportive and supported, and where the blending of the disciplinary and the interdisciplinary invites, rather than discourages, inquiry. Bates will be known as a college that places emphases on the study of languages and cultures, on the importance of complex ideas, on the sciences and their practice, on the rigor of social scientific investigatio n and on the universal lessons of creative performance. It will also be the college that successfully integrates study abroad, internships, and research experiences with more traditional patterns of study. Bates will be one of the few institutions requiri ng a thesis or senior project; it will emphasize one-on-one experiences with faculty, engagement in and critical reflection on service, and facility and familiarity with technologies and emerging academic resources.

Bates will excel at individualizing learning and at helping students gain those skills, experiences, and habits of mind and expression that can be linked to further study, professional work, and their own development. Through what is studied, how the s tudents are engaged, the quality of the teaching, and the integration of learning, Bates will be recognized as providing an unsurpassed liberal education one that serves its students and meets the challenges of the next century.

In some areas, to achieve our vision will mean to change. The vision for Bates offers direction to those changes as well as confirmation of what must be maintained. The College will take advantage of its strengths, its reputation, its appeal to prosp ective students, its strong disciplinary and interdisciplinary programs and departments, the quality of its faculty and staff, and its culture of hard work and academic challenge. And it will do more. Its vision is that of an institution setting a new sta ndard for excellence, one that can fulfill the true promise of a liberal arts and sciences education.

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