Perry and Seldenfleur make Historic Gift
"If you've already provided for the joy and comfort of your family, why not provide joys for others?"
With that rhetorical question, Ralph T. Perry '51 and his wife, Mary Louise Seldenfleur, made their historic $4.5-million gift to Bates last fall, the largest alumni gift ever.
"This is a magnificent gift," President Harward said. "It will not only make a tremendous difference to the College, but has also immediately raised the bar in terms of what philanthropic support can be achieved from Bates alumni and friends."
During the 1990s, Ralph Perry has donated more than $6.5 million to Bates to support endowment and capital projects. "I want Bates people to understand we have something that deserves to be preserved. And I hope that other Bates people, in their own way, will try to emulate what Mary Louise and I are doing."
The Perry-Seldenfleur gift is a planned gift in the form of a charitable remainder unitrust. Such a trust creates significant tax savings for the donor and also pays the donor an income for life, after which the funds transfer to Bates. During the lifetime of the donor, the value of the trust continues to increase for the future benefit of Bates. The Perry-Seldenfleur trust will be designated for endowment.
When it comes to Bates philanthropy, Perry's philosophy is straightforward. "If you have been fortunate enough to accumulate assets that enable you to live comfortably, I don't believe you have to have as an objective increasing those assets."
Instead, he suggests, find a way to benefit the world around you. For Perry and Seldenfleur, that means supporting Bates.
"Bates is a major institution in our country with major positive influences in many areas," Perry said. "To sustain and strengthen our College, the philanthropy of Bates alumni must play a fundamental role."
Perry's philanthropy includes a $1-million gift in 1995 in memory of his first wife, Joan Holmes Perry '51, who died in 1994. That memorial gift created the three-story, 8,000-square-foot Perry Atrium in the newly dedicated Pettengill Hall. Prior to her death, Joan and Ralph had made a $1-million gift in 1992 to endow a scholarship fund for Maine students at Bates.
Perry is a retired senior vice president of Hannaford Bros., the Maine-based supermarket retailer. In the mid-1960s, he joined with Hannaford Bros. to buy Progressive Distributors of Winthrop, Maine. Perry transformed the distributorship from a $1-million business with 10 employees in 1967 to a $75-million business with 200 employees in 1987.
When Perry retired, Progressive became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hannaford Bros., whose
own CEO at the time was James L. Moody Jr. '53, chairman of the Bates Board of Trustees. In a
nice bit of Bates serendipity, it was Moody - not only a former business colleague of Perry's, but
also a onetime teammate on the Bates basketball squad - who announced the gift to the Trustees at
their October meeting.
(For more information on planned giving, check www.bates.edu/alumni/giving/Planned.html)
Around the Quad
For generations, Bates students enjoyed a higher level of maid service than what you'd get at a Holiday Inn: leave a heap of clean laundry on your dorm bed; return and maybe find clothes folded in a neat pile. But the tradition of regular room-cleaning and tidying ended in the fall. The reason was partly due to cost, and partly due to the feeling that a college that invokes themes of personal responsibility, independence, and hard work should give students the chance to fold their own underweaar and vacuum their own dirt. Students tended to agree: "It was always an awkward thinag, as a college student, to have someone clean my room," said Ana Hetland '00, of Rochester, N.Y.
Philosopher, minister, and author William R. Jones delivered the College's keynote speech on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He asked why America has chosen to celebrate King, to the exclusion of figures like Malcolm X. And he asked why King's method (nonviolent protest) is celebrated to the exclusion of his messages, such as economic justice. Jones suggested the answer has much to do with what white America finds comfortable and wants perpetuated.
Dining Services employees voted 41-33 last summer not to join the International Brotherhood of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Union organizers said the Bates workers were being treated unfairly; the College pledged to work out worker concerns. Prior to the vote, President Harward said, "The Bates community is best served by working out the issues of concerns any member has, without the need of other organizations. But that is up to those affected to determine."
Rap artist Wyclef Jean, whose recordings with the Fugees include the multi platinum CD The Score, not only performed in the Gray Cage last fall, but he jammed with students in Assistant Professor of Music Linda Williams' class.
Secretary of Defense William Cohen LL.D. '89 and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who
worked for Ed Muskie '36 when he was secretary of state, visited the Muskie Archives in October.
Their visit included brief remarks and a question-and-answer session with students from James
Richter's international diplomacy courses. In 1985, Albright gave Bates the Muskie portrait that
hangs in the archives; in Washington, Albright chose to have Muskie's official portrait in her office.
New Bates Overseers nominated from the alumni ballot last spring were Susan Doliner '81 of Cape Elizabeth and Joseph Matzkin '66 of Newton, Mass. Appointed as Overseers were David MacNaughton '73 of New York, N.Y.; Bates parents Ann Myer of Los Angeles, Calif., and Thomas A. Renyi of Wyckoff, N.J.; and Karen Harris '74 of South Portland.
Like most of the country, the Bates computer community experienced no Y2K effects, thanks to diligent Information Services efforts.
Only a third of U.S. students applying to medical schools are admitted, but 87 percent of Bates students and alumni who applied to medical, dental, and veterinary graduate schools in 1998-99 were accepted.
Children's advocate Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of The Children's Defense
Fund, delivered the annual Bertha May Bell Andrews Memorial Lecture in Ethics and Education
and spoke at length about the importance of mentors in a child's life. Her own mentor? The late
Benjamin E. Mays '20, longtime president of Morehouse College.
A survey published in "The Best 331 Colleges" ranked Bates as 19th best dining services in the country. A Portland Press Herald writer, doing a story on Bates' high rating, visited Commons and wrote that his serving of rotini "was bursting with the flavors of egg and semolina wheat" and that his cream puff dessert was "magnificent."
Bates Trustee Ernest Ern '55 delivered the fall's Convocation address on the subject of college honor codes. Bates is pondering an honor code, and the University of Virginia, where Ern is senior vice president and university professor, has one of the strongest in the country. "Individuals can be honorable without a system, but only within a system can honor receive the daily attention and respect that it merits," he said.
Chinese expatriate artist Xu Bing, a "quintessential global figure," according to The New York
Times, created a site-specific work at the Museum of Art, "Calligraphy for the People," in the fall.
For former Bates theater regular Greg Arata '96, all the world - or at least much of the U.S. - was indeed a stage this fall. In the persona of Bunker Bob, a shtick for the home furnishings Web site Homepoint.com, Arata traveled the country in a 70-foot glass house on wheels, ending his trip New Year's Eve in New Orleans, when Bob/Greg - ordained in the ministry thanks to another Web site - married a couple in the bunker.
The 2000 Phillips Faculty Fellows are Jane Costlow, associate professor of Russian; Sharon Kinsman, associate professor of biology; and Erica Rand, associate professor of art. The fellowships, part of the Phillips Endowment Program, created through the bequest of former Bates president Charles Phillips and his wife, Evelyn Phillips, enable fellows to travel, pursue scholarship, and interact with other leading scholars in their field.
Working with a team of astrophysicists while on a research leave from Bates, Alicia Soderberg '00
discovered nine new exploding stars, or supernovae, including the most distant one to date.
'With Walt, It Simply Mattered'
The funny stories were told and retold about the late, legendary Bates track and field coach Walter Slovenski.
Like the time, during the gas crisis in 1973, he hid gas cans off the highway from Maine to Connecticut so his team could travel to a meet when gas stations were closed. Or how he made practices interesting in the old Cage by offering free ice cream to any runner who could predict his single-lap time to within a tenth of a second.
No one could. But how hard they tried. How hard they ran for Walt, ice cream or no.
Ryan remembers Slovenski this way.
"Walter Slovenski was simply the most energetic, positive, enthusiastic, and determined person that I have ever met in my life.
"Thankfully, he was not politically correct. He taught us to think for ourselves and to stick to our beliefs and principles. He taught the meaning and importance of loyalty, a trait that has become increasingly hard to find.
"With Walt, it simply mattered. He created a tradition and gave events a historical perspective. He
fostered an environment in which you simply had to achieve to your potential or you would be
letting yourself down. This is his great legacy: to have given us the best friends that we will ever
know. To give me the only large group of people on the face of the earth with whom I can feel
relaxed and comfortably, effortlessly, joyfully converse with until the lights are turned out or I'm
"On the last day, at the end of a hard 85-mile bike ride, racing the last 15, we stopped at this spot
overlooking the Pamlico Sound to have our own simple memorial service for Walt. As Peter
Weyand '83 began his tribute, the sun disappeared behind clouds on the horizon, then reappeared
through a small hole in the clouds in way I have never seen before. As Pete neared his concluding
words, the sun seemed not so much to set, but get smaller and dimmer, burning out as it dropped
below the hole in the clouds. Just as Pete finished, the light ball faded away and disappeared. Just
then, a beautiful sunset reflection appeared on the clouds high above the horizon.
Bates in the News
Thanks to Bryant Gumbel '70 and fellow alumni, Bates enjoyed national television attention on the Nov. 1 debut of Gumbel's The Morning Show on CBS. Classmates Jeff Braun '90, Mimi Datta '90, and Julie Ouellette Earp '90 got up before dawn to hang a Bates banner outside the studio's Fifth Avenue location. In his few seconds with crowd reporter Mark McEwen, Braun, a former Bates debater and co-chair of his 10th Reunion this spring, offered Gumbel a warm Bates alumni welcome (and some Bates facts for the audience). The banner was front and center during every crowd shot, and besides the airwaves, the Bates hello was noted in papers like The Arizona Republic and The Courier-Journal of Louisville. Gumbel, who is a Bates Trustee, "was enthusiastic about Bates welcoming him on his first day," noted Vicky Devlin, vice president for development and alumni affairs.
In a January op-ed in the Portland Press Herald, President Harward championed the Lewiston-Auburn region as he explained why the U.S. Postal Service should stick with its decision to designate Lewiston-Auburn as the site for a new $60 million distribution center. Harward decried the political pressure that resulted in the Postal Service announcing that it would reconsider Portland-area sites. He asked "those charged with the integrity of the process...to honor it and restore it."
The U.S. News &;World Report in December noted record early-admissions numbers posted by many elite colleges, including Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Rice, and Stanford. "At Bates College," wrote reporter David Marcus, "Admissions Dean Wylie Mitchell senses enormous pressure on students from parents and friends to secure a place in a good school." Bates' early-admissions applications were up 18 percent over last year.
When it needed a national expert on selective colleges that don't require standardized-test results,
National Public Radio Boston affiliate WBUR called Bill Hiss '66, vice president for administrative
affairs. During an extended drive-time interview, Hiss said that the College's extensive statistical
analysis revealed that testing was "simply not predictive for a third to a quarter of our students."
The Washington Post quoted Hiss on financial-aid policy changes at Bates and other selective
schools that yield aid packages with lower loan and higher grant components, while The New York
Times quoted Hiss on the relationships between college admissions officers and high school
admissions counselors. "After a while you realize that certain counselors have great eyes for kids,"
Hiss told Times reporter Jacques Steinberg. And noted Times education columnist Glenn
Altschuler quoted Hiss on the agonies of the college admissions essay.