The material on this page is from the 1996-97 catalog and may be out of date. Please check the current year's catalog for current information.
Bates College has been consistently faithful to the purposes of those who gave it birth 141 years ago. The College was founded by people who felt strongly about human freedom, civil rights, and a higher education for all who could derive an advantage from it. Bates is among the oldest coeducational colleges in the nation; from its beginning the College admitted students without regard to race, religion, national origin, or sex. Because some of its earliest students were African American or from religious minorities and because many of them were poor, the College discouraged fraternities and sororities and firmly established the tradition that all the College's activities would be open to all its students.
Throughout its history the College has defended vigorously these traditions, while often modifying its academic programs to meet changing educational needs. Today Bates is a coeducational, independent liberal-arts college devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and the dignity of the individual.
As with most New England institutions, religion played a vital part in the College's founding. Oren B. Cheney, Dartmouth graduate and a minister of the Freewill Baptist denomination, conceived the idea of founding 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 Bates College. He was followed in 1894 by George Colby Chase, who led the young institution through a period of growth in building, funds, and academic recognition -- a growth that continued from 1920 to 1944 under President Clifton Daggett Gray and through 1966 under President Charles Franklin Phillips. During the tenure of Thomas Hedley Reynolds, who served as fifth President from 1967 until the 1989 academic year, the College's national reputation grew, and Bates became more widely recognized as one of the nation's outstanding colleges.
Donald W. Harward, Bates's sixth President, began service to the College in 1989. In an address titled "Higher Education in the Nineties," President Harward assessed the challenges facing liberal-arts colleges in the coming decade. "Already emerging are programmatic emphases which will bring greater attention to environmental studies, to international features of the curriculum, and to non-Western languages and culture. Continued attention will be given both to disciplinary areas, which carry the burden of the curriculum, and to interdisciplinary areas of study (such as women's studies, area studies, African American studies, and environmental studies), which complement disciplinary majors and reinforce the value of diversity. The curricular challenge facing colleges in the nineties will be the task of keeping up with, and in part defining, the changing nature of knowledge at a time when practical and financial limitations are being emphasized.
"We will not only want to preserve established intellectual traditions, we will want to address new topics, recognizing that what is known changes. Substantial alterations have occurred to what is known and, more importantly, to the methods used in coming to know. These changes do not occur regularly, unfortunately, but are often more like `revolutions,' unpredictable and far reaching. For example, the molecular and biochemical analysis of living forms has radically altered the study of biology; and the challenge we face will be to find ways to get these, and other new areas and techniques, into the undergraduate curriculum while preserving the core features of what we want students to continue to do and learn."
Consistent with its purpose of providing the advantages of a small residential college, Bates has limited its admissions and grown slowly. Men and women are equally represented in the College's approximately 1,570 students. These students come to Bates from forty-seven states and twenty-six foreign countries. In 1995-1996, 175 faculty members taught in twenty-eight major fields.
Located 140 miles northeast of Boston and within an hour's drive of the Maine coast, the College occupies a well-landscaped, 109-acre campus within the Lewiston-Auburn area, an urban community of about 64,000 people. Bates prides itself on sound financial management. The endowment investments of the College total approximately $115 million in market value.
The College has recently pursued an ambitious building campaign to improve the environment for learning and student life. The Olin Arts Center, supported by a generous grant from the F. W. Olin Foundation of New York City, opened its doors in the fall of 1986. A major addition to Carnegie Science Hall and a total renovation of the older structure were dedicated in 1990. This $9.6-million project offers students and faculty the most modern facilities for scientific research and teaching. A 1992 addition to Dana Chemistry Hall provides laboratory space for one of the College's newest major fields of study, biological chemistry, as well as a state-of-the-art chemical storage facility. The sciences at Bates have also been enhanced by the addition of several major instruments (including scanning and transmission electron microscopes, an NMR spectrometer, a PCR thermocycler for DNA sequencing, and a flow cytometer), supported in part by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
In 1992, the Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building was completely renovated, creating a versatile multiuse center for all campus gatherings. An award-winning, four-building residential complex, including a social and study center named in honor of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays '20, and a residential building named in honor of James L. Moody, Jr. '53 and Jean Pratt Moody, opened in September 1993. Housing 150 students, the complex supports living and learning within a "residential village." The Joseph A. Underhill Arena, which includes an indoor ice rink and the Davis Fitness Center, opened in January 1995.
The success of the College's fundraising is due in large part to the support of many of the over fifteen thousand living alumni and of the thirty-five alumni chapters located from coast to coast and around the world. The College is currently in the final year of the five-year Bates Campaign, "Building the Future," an unprecedented effort to raise $50 million in endowment and current-use funds for scholarships, faculty support, academic programs, and improvements to the campus and physical plant.
Bates College 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.
Bates values a diverse college community. Moreover, Bates does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, age, or disability, in the recruitment and admission of its students, in the administration of its educational policies and programs, or in the recruitment and employment of its Faculty and staff.
© 1996 Bates College.
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Last modified: 08/05/96 by PD