The material on this page is from the 2000-01 catalog and may be out of date. Please check the current year's catalog for current information.

[The College]

Mission Statement

Bates is a college of the liberal arts and sciences, nationally recognized for the qualities of the educational experience it provides. It is a coeducational, nonsectarian, residential college with special commitments to academic rigor, and to assuring in all of its efforts the dignity of each individual and access to its programs and opportunities by qualified learners. Bates prizes both the inherent values of a demanding education and the profound usefulness of learning, teaching, and understanding. Moreover, throughout the history of the College, Bates's graduates have linked education with service, leadership, and obligations beyond themselves.

As a college of the liberal arts and sciences, Bates offers a curriculum and faculty that challenge students to attain intellectual achievements and to develop powers of critical assessment, analysis, expression, aesthetic sensibility, and independent thought. In addition, Bates recognizes that learning is not exclusively restricted to cognitive categories, and that the full range of human experience needs to be encouraged and cultivated. The College expects students to appreciate the discoveries and insights of established traditions of learners as well as to participate in the resolution of what is unknown.

Bates is committed to an open and supportive residential environment. The College's programs are designed to encourage student development and to foster student leadership, service, and creativity. The College sponsors cultural, volunteer, athletic, social, and religious opportunities that are open to all students, and values participation in these activities.

Bates also recognizes that it has responsibilities to the larger community. Where possible and when consistent with its primary responsibilities to its students, faculty, and alumni, the College makes available its educational and cultural resources, its expertise, and its collective energies to professional as well as to regional communities outside the institution.

Bates Today

The College's commitment to academic excellence and intellectual rigor is best exemplified in its faculty. These men and women carry on vital professional lives that encompass scholarship and research, but they are at Bates because they are dedicated first and foremost to teaching undergraduates. The College honors its superb teacher-scholars through a growing endowed professorship program; in the last decade alone, ten new endowed professorships have been established. Currently, 99 percent of tenured or tenure-track faculty members hold the Ph.D. or another terminal degree. Bates students work directly with faculty; the student-faculty ratio is approximately 10-to-1, and all class and laboratory sessions are taught by faculty members. A Bates education serves graduates well and offers excellent preparation for further study and careers. Over two-thirds of recent alumni have earned graduate or professional degrees within ten years of graduation.

In their academic work Bates students are encouraged to explore broadly, to cross disciplines, and to grow as independent thinkers. The College offers thirty-nine fields of study (thirty-two as majors) as well as opportunities for guided interdisciplinary study. Bates is one of a small number of colleges and universities requiring a senior thesis to complete most majors. The senior thesis is an unusual opportunity for extended, closely guided research and writing, performance, or studio work. A growing number of students collaborate with faculty in their research during both the academic year and the summer. Each summer more than sixty students receive support to pursue research full time.

Bates has long recognized the special role it plays in providing students with the perspective and opportunities that lead to international service and a vision of world citizenship. In recent years more than 56 percent of each graduating class has participated in a study-abroad experience. Bates ranks seventh in the nation among baccalaureate institutions in the percentage of students who take advantage of opportunities for international study.

Bates is located on a 109-acre traditional New England campus in Lewiston. Primary academic resources on campus include the George and Helen Ladd Library; the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, which holds the papers of the former U.S. senator and secretary of state, a member of the Class of 1936, and hosts an extensive public affairs series; and the Olin Arts Center, which houses a concert hall and the Bates College Museum of Art. The College also holds access to the 574-acre Bates–Morse Mountain Conservation Area in Phippsburg, Maine, which preserves one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the Atlantic coast, and the neighboring Bates College Coastal Center at Shortridge, which includes an eighty-acre woodland and freshwater habitat, scientific field station, and retreat center.

Bates was founded 145 years ago by people who believed strongly in freedom, civil rights, and the importance of a higher education for all who could benefit from it. Bates was the first coeducational college in New England, admitting students without regard to race, religion, national origin, or sex. Today the approximately sixteen hundred students on campus come from forty-eight states and forty-six countries. The College is recognized for its inclusive social character; there have never been fraternities or sororities, and student organizations are open to all.

Bates has a long tradition of recognizing that the privilege of education carries with it responsibility to others. Learning at Bates has always been connected to action, a connection expressed by the extraordinary level of participation by students in service activities and by graduates in their choice of careers and persistence in volunteer activities and community leadership. In the last academic year more than one-third of the faculty incorporated service-learning components into courses, and Bates students were involved in a wide variety of community-based projects with diverse public and private agencies.

Bates is committed to its home community of Lewiston and neighboring Auburn, which together form a small urban center of about sixty-five thousand people. The College and the two cities are involved in an extensive collaboration known as LA Excels, in which leaders from all sectors of Lewiston and Auburn work toward the highest standards in five areas of community life: educational aspirations, economic vitalization, culture and diversity, environment and quality of life, and leadership development. LA Excels asks what Lewiston and Auburn can become with selective transformative change based on a common community vision of excellence.

As with most New England institutions, religion played a vital part in the College's founding. In the mid-nineteenth century, Oren B. Cheney, a minister of the Freewill Baptist denomination, conceived the idea of founding the Maine State Seminary in Lewiston. Within a few years the seminary became a college, and it was Cheney who obtained financial support from Benjamin E. Bates, the Boston manufacturer for whom the College was named.

Oren B. Cheney is now honored as the founder and first president of the College. He was followed in 1894 by George Colby Chase, who led the young institution through a period of growth in building, endowment, and academic recognition — a growth that continued from 1920 to 1944 under President Clifton Daggett Gray, and through 1966 under President Charles Franklin Phillips. Thomas Hedley Reynolds, the College's fifth president, brought Bates national attention by developing a superior faculty and innovative academic programs.

Donald W. Harward, Bates's sixth president, began service to the College in 1989. Under his leadership, Bates has secured its place as one of the nation's finest colleges. By engaging in discussions about the challenges the College faces and planning appropriately, Bates is poised for continued excellence in the new century. These challenges include the information explosion, accelerating fragmentation of knowledge, shifting boundaries of traditional academic disciplines and methodologies, an increasingly collaborative approach to discovery and communication, the challenge of articulating the value of liberal education, and the continued fiscal health of the institution.

Consistent with its purpose of providing the benefits of a small residential college, Bates has limited its admissions and grown slowly, yet it also has pursued an ambitious program of building and equipment acquisition to support teaching. Recent additions and renovations in Carnegie Science Hall and Dana Chemistry Hall have increased facilities available for research-based independent student work and have provided laboratory space for the College's programs in biological chemistry and neuroscience, as well as a state-of-the-art chemical storage facility. At the same time, the sciences have been enriched by the addition of several major instruments, including two electron microscopes, an NMR spectrometer, a PCR thermocycler for DNA sequencing, and a flow cytometer.

The College's newest academic building is Pettengill Hall, named in honor of Frederick B. "Pat" Pettengill '31 and Ursula P. Pettengill. Dedicated in 1999, Pettengill Hall is a ninety-thousand-square-foot structure housing fully networked teaching spaces, faculty offices, laboratories, student research centers, and other facilities for eleven social-science departments and interdisciplinary programs once physically dispersed around the campus. Pettengill Hall creates a new arena for intellectual interaction and an environment for greater utilization of technology in teaching and research. The building's design also fosters the connection between formal and informal learning; the Perry Atrium, named in memory of Joan Holmes Perry '51, is a flexible and accessible gathering space that encourages students to better integrate their academic experiences with overall life at Bates.

Student life facilities at Bates are also varied and well equipped. The renovated Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building provides a versatile center for all-campus gatherings. Three residence halls and a social center, built in 1993, were designed to help integrate living and learning by mixing dormitory rooms, lounges, seminar rooms, and space for dining and campus events. The Joseph A. Underhill Arena, which includes an indoor ice rink and the Davis Fitness Center, opened in 1995, and two large houses on the campus have been refurbished to serve as the College's Multicultural Center and Alumni House. In 2000 The James G. Wallach Tennis Center opened, with eight international tennis courts for varsity and intramural play.

The educational mission of the College is supported generously by a significant percentage of its fifteen thousand alumni who have made a lifetime commitment to their alma mater. In 1996 Bates completed the largest fund-raising campaign in its history, exceeding its goal by raising $59.3 million in philanthropic support. This has helped the College triple its endowment over the last decade, while increasing resources for financial aid, academic programs, and improvements to the campus, including Pettengill Hall. Endowment investments of the College total approximately $180 million.

The College's alumni, who are members of more than thirty-five national and international clubs, are actively connected to Bates in a variety of ways. More than eighteen hundred alumni volunteer annually as admissions representatives, career resources, fund-raisers, class agents, and alumni club leaders.

Bates is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the American Chemical Society. It maintains chapters of Phi Beta Kappa and of Sigma Xi, the national scientific research and honor society.

Goals 2005: The Vision for Bates

In 2005 Bates will celebrate its sesquicentennial. The College has made the commemoration of this milestone an opportunity to think critically about Bates's future in a process known as "Goals 2005." A committee of faculty, students, and administrators has set strategic priorities for Bates, identified resources to achieve those goals, and developed ways to measure progress toward attaining them. Defining Bates as a learning community of distinction and excellence that provides leadership as one of the nation's finest undergraduate colleges, the "Vision for Bates" affirms the following goals for the College:

  • Bates will emphasize academic rigor and achievement, an active faculty of teacher/scholars, superb programs, high expectations of those who participate, the centrality of individual responsibility for learning, and the dignity and value of difference.
  • Bates will strengthen and build on its persisting ethos and culture of engagement as it encourages actions that will further civility, trust, responsibility, and service.
  • The College will develop the connections and integrating cohesion that give flexibility and vitality to the educational opportunities that it provides — local, global, academic, cocurricular, and life-enduring.
  • Bates will be organized as a flexible, principled residential community, valuing individuals and their interactions while celebrating their common purpose and the connections of the College community to the local area and to the world beyond.

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Last Modified: 8/29/2000 by Tins