The material on this page is from the 1997-98 catalog and may be out of date. Please check the current year's catalog for current information.
Bates College was founded 142 years ago 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, and 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 those 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 respect for 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 1989, 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 cultures. 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 1,650 students. These students come to Bates from forty-eight states and twenty-nine foreign countries. In 1996-1997, 174 faculty members taught in twenty-nine 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 $125 million in market value.
In order to provide the best possible environment for learning and student life, the College continues to pursue an ambitious program of building and equipment acquisition. The Olin Arts Center, supported by a major grant from the F. W. Olin Foundation of New York, opened in the fall of 1986, housing the music and art departments and the Museum of Art. In 1990 a major addition was built and renovations undertaken on Carnegie Science Hall. This $9.6 million project not only doubled the size of the building, but provided facilities more suitable for the new emphasis on student participation in scientific research. A 1992 addition to Dana Chemistry Hall provided laboratory space for the College's new program in biological chemistry, 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 (both an SEM and a TEM), an NMR spectrometer, a PCR thermocycler for DNA sequencing, and a flow cytometer.
Also in 1992 the Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building was renovated, creating a versatile multiuse center for all-campus gatherings. In 1993 a new residence facility and social center opened for 150 students. This award-winning, four-building complex is designed to help integrate living and learning. In its three residence halls, rooms are organized in suites with lounge areas, and each hall also has a larger lounge and seminar room available for class sessions and more informal activities. Moody House, one of the residences, is named in honor of James L. Moody '53 and Jean Pratt Moody. The fourth building of the residential village is a social and study center, named in honor of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays '20. The Joseph A. Underhill Arena, which includes an indoor ice rink and the Davis Fitness Center, opened in January 1995, and two large houses on the campus have been fully refurbished to serve as the College's Multicultural Center and Alumni House, respectively. In 1997 construction began on a major new academic building to house the social sciences and interdisciplinary programs. The facility will be completed in the fall of 1999.
The educational mission of the College is supported generously by a significant percentage of its 15,000 living alumni. Bates has recently completed the largest fundraising campaign in its history, exceeding its goal and attracting $59.3 million in philanthropic support. This enterprise has helped the College double its endowment in the past five years, while increasing resources for financial aid, faculty and academic programs, and improvements to the campus, including the new academic building.
Members of over thirty-five national and international chapters of the College's alumni are actively connected to Bates in a variety of ways. More than 1,500 alumni volunteer annually as admissions representatives, career resources, fundraisers, and class or alumni chapter leaders.
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.