The material on this page is from the 1998-99 catalog and may be out of date. Please check the current year's catalog for current information.
Bates was founded 143 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 is devoted to undergraduate education in the arts and sciences, and commitment to teaching excellence is central to the College's mission. Faculty members carry on vital professional lives that encompass scholarship and research, but they are at Bates because they are dedicated first to teaching. Currently, 100 percent of tenured or tenure-track faculty members hold the Ph.D. or another terminal degree. With a student-faculty ratio of 10-to-1, and with all class and laboratory sessions taught by faculty members, Bates maintains a close student-faculty association. Bates is known nationally for its challenging intellectual environment. By ten years after graduation, nearly 60 percent of the alumni of any year have completed graduate or professional degrees.
When founded in 1855, Bates was the first coeducational college in New England, admitting students without regard to race, religion, national origin, or sex. Today approximately sixteen hundred students come from forty-seven states and twenty-five countries. Between 10 and 15 percent of most graduating classes are of nonmajority cultural background, and another 5 percent are international students. The College is recognized for its inclusive social character; there are no fraternities or sororities, and student organizations are open to all.
The College offers thirty-nine fields of study (thirty-two as majors) and 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. In each of the past few years, more than sixty students spent the summer pursuing research full time. In 1991 Bates was among fifty colleges identified from a total pool of nearly thirty-two hundred institutions as the "International 50," recognizing its special place in providing students with the perspective and the opportunities that lead to international service, and the confidence to view themselves as citizens of the world. In recent years over 65 percent of the College's students have participated in a study abroad experience, the sixth-highest rate in the country.
Bates also 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, forty-seven faculty members from twenty-six departments and interdisciplinary programs incorporated service-learning components into their courses, and Bates students were involved in nearly thirteen hundred community-based learning projects, with 113 different community agencies and institutions.
The College is located on a 109-acre traditional New England campus located in Lewiston- Auburn, a small urban community of about eighty thousand people. Bates also holds access to the 574-acre Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area, which preserves one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the Atlantic coast. Primary academic resources include the George and Helen Ladd Library; the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, which holds the papers of the former 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. Endowment investments of the College total approximately $150 million.
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 Dartmouth graduate and 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. 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. During the tenure of Thomas Hedley Reynolds, who served as fifth President from 1967 until 1989, the College's national reputation continued to grow.
Donald W. Harward, Bates's sixth President, began service to the College in 1989. Under his leadership, the College community has strategically identified how it will secure its place as one of the nation's finest colleges. It has examined the challenges it faces, and has planned how it must respond now and in the next century. These challenges include the financial structure of the College, the information explosion, accelerating fragmentation of knowledge, shifting boundaries of traditional academic disciplines and methodologies, an increasingly collaborative approach to discovery and communication, and the challenge of making explicit the value of liberal education. These challenges will not be met if the College only affirms what has been done in the past. This vision for its future is one in which Bates not only recognizes, but takes advantage of these developments, while at the same time building on the College's traditional strengths. Realizing connections among research, teaching, and learning will be a high priority.
In their individual courses Bates faculty members are seeking approaches that more effectively convey information students will use, that encourage exploration, and that push students to use their developing skills in different forms of expression. To accomplish this, they are involving students in collaborative work and challenging them to share responsibility for learning and creating variations on what constitutes a "course." Faculty also are seeking ways of more fully integrating into the curriculum study abroad, internships, service-learning, alumni resources, extracurricular campus life, and disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches in teaching, learning, and scholarship.
Consistent with its purpose of providing the advantages of a small residential college, Bates has limited its admissions and grown slowly; yet it has also pursued an ambitious program of building and equipment acquisition to support teaching. The Olin Arts Center, funded by a major grant from the F. W. Olin Foundation, opened in the fall of 1986 to house 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 project not only doubled the size of the building, but provided facilities more suitable for the College's 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.
In 1992 the Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building was renovated, creating a versatile 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. The fourth building of the complex 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 1995, and two large houses on the campus have been fully refurbished to serve as the College's Multicultural Center and Alumni House, respectively.
Now under construction is a ninety-thousand-square-foot academic building which, when completed in 1999, will provide innovative teaching spaces, faculty offices, laboratories, and other facilities for eleven social science departments and interdisciplinary programs. It will bring together programs and departments now physically dispersed and inadequately housed, promoting a new level of interaction, and will provide spaces arranged to inspire and allow creative teaching and research. The design of the building emphasizes the importance of informal as well as formal learning opportunities. It adds substantially to the open, informal gathering spaces in academic buildings on campus, and provides an important means of encouraging students to more fully integrate their academic experience with overall life at Bates.
The educational mission of the College is supported generously by a significant percentage of its fifteen thousand alumni. 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, faculty and academic programs, and improvements to the campus, including the new academic building.
Members of more than thirty-five national and international clubs of the College's alumni 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 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.