The Vision's Basic Themes

The vision of the College is considered in its basic themes. Each theme is followed by commentary. In Part III, some early thoughts are offered on how each might be achieved.

Theme 1: Bates will excel in the quality of its programs and offerings, and in establishing greater connections among teaching, learning, and scholarship (including those supported by greater collaboration and the uses of new te chnologies).

We will continue to be explicit that this College be a community that emphasizes learning inspired by teaching and research, as well as learning in places and times that extend beyond the conventional.

Faculty members are exploring new models of teaching and learning, recognizing that the transfer of information from teacher to learner is incomplete. Among the alternatives are collaborative models of teaching; the development of research opportunitie s that give students some ownership of the process; the use of technology to support exploration and discovery; and the development by faculty of mentoring skills to guide students as they take a more active role in learning. Technology should support the learning values of the College as well as help students control information sources. Students should be expected to persist at difficult tasks and to graduate with a disposition toward continual learning.

The various elements of the curriculum (first-year experience, general education, majors, and thesis), should be directed to clear, persisting, and central educational objectives as well as be more explicitly integrated. The faculty must periodically e xplore new curricular arrangements, with ongoing review of changes to assure that the curriculum meets the tests of both persisting value and currency.

Students and faculty members should gain experience in collaboration and team learning as well as individual and independent learning. Students should be more actively engaged in their education, taking greater responsibility for learning, and for deve loping a more coherent vision of how their education fits their own goals.

Engagement in scholarship or research for the intrinsic benefit of gaining knowledge, as well as for its utility in learning, should vitalize our teaching and the intellectual climate at Bates. Faculty see the balance of these dimensions of their work in different ways. Some expect students to be directly involved in their research; others see their research as independent of their teaching, although mutually informed and invigorated by it. We will maintain this variety of perspectives and experiment w ith ways of balancing teaching and research, recognizing a creative tension in the two. To assure their continued centrality, scholarship and research should be supported by greater endowment resources.

Bates should develop assessments of student needs, learning strengths, and alternative ways of learning. In addition to evaluations of the thesis experience and of advising, institutional consideration should be given to periodic reviews for tenured fa culty, and the support for voluntary mentoring programs. Faculty will, in cooperation with their students, be encouraged to work out explicit goals for learning and use these to evaluate individual teaching methods.

Theme 2. Bates will encourage students to be full partners in this community of learners and to take greater responsibility for their own critical thinking and behavior.

We will continue to be explicit about being a community and expressing friendliness, support, hard work, modesty, respect, tolerance, civility, individual development, and fairness. Bates will value each individual, and each should gain from the Colleg e's culture of inclusion. Greater student responsibility for learning and critical thinking (with faculty creating opportunities for that to happen) will be central to the College and how it is organized.

Bates will continue to encourage responsible actions and behavior. Bates will remain a small residential college, retaining the strengths of its small size and special qualities including its expression of individual attention. The College should pro vide greater opportunities and places for meaningful interaction, adequate and aesthetically pleasing space for campus activities and organizations. The social tone of the College should be strengthened, and the role of alcohol diminished as a defining co ndition of social interaction. There should be a measurable decrease in instances of alcohol abuse, including binge drinking. Dormitory or House Councils should serve as vehicles for developing activities and responsible student behavior.

We envision moving the culture of the College away from implicit messages of entitlement and toward assisting members to recognize boundaries or standards of behavior (through such means as, for example, an honor code) without enforcing conformity. Bat es should offer students new directions of interests, challenge them, support their excelling, expect them to participate, and point them beyond themselves to civic and community obligations. To this end, Bates should teach its own history and culture thr ough its activities and objectives.

Theme 3. Bates will emphasize multiple types and ways of learning appropriate to undergraduate experiences. Learning should be engaging; it can occur not merely in the classroom and not exclusively with faculty mentors, but also with student peers and College staff.

Students learn not only from the cocurricular and extracurricular, but also from their experiences within the community. Bates should create the times and places for interaction, engagement, and reflection. This is compatible with fostering quality in all dimensions of the lives of learners not only their intellectual, but also their developmental, physical, and spiritual lives as well.

Bates will expand learning beyond the confines of the campus through institutional flexibility and creative uses of opportunities for teaching and scholarship. Learning and teaching at Bates will continue in the classroom. However, traditional "boundar ies" can be expanded by, for example, off-campus venues for service-learning, additional study abroad opportunities, learning related to cocurricular or extracurricular activities, learning that uses nonacademic resources (research centers, community agen cies, and corporations), or learning that gives students opportunities for practica and internships linked to theoretical issues they've explored in class.

Bates will recognize the contributions of diversity to excellence in learning and as an essential component of education. Fostering diversity will continue to be an integral part of Bates's commitment to inquiry, helping prepare students to thrive in a global society as well as reflecting the College's culture and history. Bates will develop support systems consistent with our programs and history (e.g., through Summer Scholars and other outreach programs), not only to attract those who can achieve, but to help them succeed. The College must provide the support to foster learning in its full expression including the co-curricular and extracurricular. As participation (including athletics and performance) is encouraged as a category of learning and development, coaching shou ld be understood as teaching and be valued with clearer expectations as to what excellence in this form of teaching means and a clearer understanding of the importance of the contributions of these activities to the community.

More effective formal advising structures will be needed as well as informal efforts from Bates faculty and staff to assist students in fostering responsibility and growth. There is a growing concern regarding the separation of the dimensions of the li ves of our students, as they request greater contact with faculty and staff and more synthesizing experiences.

Theme 4. Bates will 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 the connection of learning to the larger world.

Students should be more consistently assisted in their discovery of the positive linkage of their work at Bates to experiences that will follow in careers and professional development. Students should be prepared to be leaders in a complex and interdep endent world, having learned how to think about change and how to explore other cultures open-mindedly. The College should increase its attention to how students prepare for experiences beyond Bates, including greater resources for career counseling, grad uate options, and internships. Graduates of the College will continue to know the joys of learning and succeeding. They will confirm that a purposeful life transcends individual profit and gratification. They will work autonomously without constant guidance and collaboratively with man y different kinds of people. They will acquire the rigor of critical insight and expression. They will understand major cultural and intellectual traditions as well as the principal kinds of thinking in our modern society. They will use technology to deep en understanding and to access information, and they will understand an environmental ethic. They will have a sense of how knowledge is used, and that it is not value-free. They will know that learning and study carry a moral responsibility to create conn ections between ideas and principled actions. The habits of mind our graduates develop at Bates will assure that they shape learning communities and that they continue to learn throughout their lives.

Alumni will also remain connected to the College. They will offer support and participation. They will serve as ongoing testimony to the quality and importance of the work of the College, and they will be its most credible spokespersons. Alumni will "r ecycle" the take-aways from their experiences at Bates and in doing so strengthen and improve what the College does and aspires to do. The objective of involving alumni (in giving responsible attention to the future of the College, in who attends, and in how resources are generated and spent) is essential to Bates's success.

Theme 5. Bates will continue to manage carefully its finances, resources, facilities, and environment and it will remain affordable. Prudent multi-year financial plans are being developed to integrate annual operating budgets and capital budgets with the overall strategic planning of Goals 2005. Bates aspires to retain a financial equilibrium model that balances the maintenance and enh ancement of its qualities by means of controlled costs, increased student access through financial aid, greater non-fee resources, moderate or reduced fee increases, and controlled size of the College. The College will incorporate environmental planning in its projects and programs. Facilities should reinforce the primary goals of the College, including how academic spaces can be adapted to many learning and teaching styles, and how new facilities and s paces (such as a new campus center) can foster the variety of connections we envision.

The College is committed to remaining affordable. Students and their families must have access to the College and the financial aid needed to assure that their admission and success at Bates remains a function of their talent and achievements, not thei r need.

Bates must develop the additional resources to realize its goals, consonant with cost containment, strategic planning, and the setting of priorities. Increasing its resources through endowment and gift income thereby becoming less fee dependent the College should plan, execute, and complete a major comprehensive campaign (perhaps $100 million or more) by 2005.

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

While the Board of Trustees has ultimate responsibility for planning Bates's objectives, governance structures of students, faculty, and staff should be strengthened, with each constituency becoming more aware of how its governance fits within the inst itutional totality.

Employees should be offered support for realizing their potential and aligning their efforts with the purposes of the College valuing innovation, coordination, and an equitable and diverse workplace.

Bates should be structured flexibly to meet its mission and strategic objectives. The management structure and orientation should emphasize efficient delivery of the highest-quality services and remain connected to the values and culture of the College . Collaborations with other institutions should become deeper and have a greater influence on internal organization and management. As goals are developed, we must assess our success in achieving them. Measuring our progress, and having the confidence to experiment, are consistent with our vision of excellence.

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Last modified: 3/20/97 by JPC