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Bates College

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Bates College
Bates College seal.png
Motto Amore Ac Studio (Latin)
Motto in English
"With Ardor and Devotion" by Charles Sumner
Type Private
Established March 16, 1855 (1855-03-16)
Endowment $280.5 million (2015)[1]
President Clayton Spencer
Dean Joshua McIntosh[2]
Dean of Students
Matthew Auer[3]
Dean of Faculty
Leigh Weisenburger[4]
Dean of Admissions
Academic staff
Undergraduates 1,773[5]
Location Lewiston, Maine, U.S.
44°6′20″N 70°12′15″W / 44.10556°N 70.20417°W / 44.10556; -70.20417Coordinates: 44°6′20″N 70°12′15″W / 44.10556°N 70.20417°W / 44.10556; -70.20417
Campus 133-acre Main Campus Suburban
600-acre Bates-Morse Mountain campus
80-acre Coastal Center in Shortridge
Newspaper The Bates Student[6]
Colors      Garnet[7]
Athletics NCAA Division IIINESCAC
Mascot Bobcat
Bates College wordmark.png

Bates College is a private liberal arts college in Lewiston, Maine, in the United States.[8] The college was founded in 1855 by prominent abolitionists and established with funds from the estate of Benjamin E. Bates. Originally established to teach moral philosophy, theology, and the classics, it expanded to encompass a liberal arts curriculum shortly after its founding. It is the second oldest coeducational college in United States and the oldest in New England.[9][10][11][12][13][14]

Bates provides undergraduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. It offers 36 departmental and interdisciplinary program majors and 25 secondary concentrations. Bates currently enrolls 1,773 students, 200 of whom study abroad each semester, making it the smallest in the NESCAC. It operates on a 4–4–1 academic calendar. This includes two semesters, plus a Short Term consisting of five weeks in the Spring. The college has a 10:1 student-faculty ratio and the average class size is about fifteen students. The college is often referred to as one of the Little Ivies. Bates, under the direction of its first president, rejected fraternities and sororities on grounds of unwarranted exclusivity.[15] It offers a Liberal Arts-Engineering Dual Degree Program with Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science.[16]

The main Bates campus is located near the Androscoggin River. In addition to its Lewiston campus, the college also owns an 80-acre coastal studies center in Shortridge and the 600-acre Bates Morse Mountain in Phippsburg, Maine.[17] The campus provides 33 Colonial and Victorian Houses, 9 residential halls,[18] and a residential village for all class years.[19] Outside of academic studies, students compete intercollegiately as the Bobcats in the NCAA Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference. Bates has historically had a close relationship and rivalry with Bowdoin College, and later began an athletic rivalry with Colby College forming the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium. The students and alumni of Bates are well known for preserving a variety of strong campus traditions and activities.[20][21][22][23][24][25]



A lithograph of Bates College by Richard Rummell

While attending Parsonsfield Seminary, a Freewill Baptist divinity school, Oren B. Cheney lamented the racial segregation and religious oppression that was embedded in American educational institutions. He subsequently sought to create an educational institution that catered to everyone that required it; and that it would take the form of a rigorous and academically prominent school.[26] In 1836, Cheney enrolled in Dartmouth College (after briefly attending Brown), due to Dartmouth's significant support of the abolitionist cause against slavery. Abolitionism would become a foundational aspect of the future Bates College.[27] After graduating, Cheney was ordained a Baptist minister and began to establish himself as an educational and religious scholar.[28] News that the Parsonsfield Seminary burned down in 1853, allegedly due to arson by opponents of abolition, caused Cheney to advocate for the building of a new seminary in a more central part of Maine.[29]

Coram Library in early winter, built in 1900, and opened in 1902[30][31]

He began with the establishment of the Nichols Latin School, a collegiate preparatory school and the Cobb Divinity School which subsequently turned into the Maine State Seminary in 1855, making it one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the United States. The campus ran parallel to Frye Street, an area that was part of an affluent residential district of Lewiston.[32] Soon after establishment, multiple donors stepped forward[33] to finance portions of the school, such as Seth Hathorn, who donated the first library, which was renamed Hathorn Hall. The school gained academic prominence through its intellectual focus, including maintaining three literary societies: the Literary Fraternity, Philomathean Society and Ladies' Athenaeum.[34] The college was affected by the financial panic of the later 1850s and required additional funding to remain operational.[35]

Cheney's impact in Maine was noted by Boston business magnate Benjamin E. Bates who developed an interest in the college. Mr. Bates extended $100,000 (in 2016 worth $3.0 million) to the endowment of the college. The school was renamed Bates College in his honor in 1863 and was chartered to offer a liberal arts curriculum beyond its original theological focus.[36] Bates College already had a reputation for academic rigor and social inclusion and it primarily educated the middle and working classes from Maine.[15][37] The seal of the college features a stag deer resting near a pine tree, left of a single of grain, representing the "impact of Maine's nature on the person", a lighted oil lamp representing "unwavering clarity in times of uncertainty", and an open book, representing "academic excellence and devotion."[38][39]

Bates College playing a football game against Bowdoin College

The college began instruction with a six-person faculty tasked with the teaching of moral philosophy and the classics. From its inception, Bates College served as an alternative to a more traditional and historically conservative Bowdoin College.[40][41] There is a long tradition of rivalry and competitiveness between the two colleges, revolving around socioeconomic class, academic quality, and collegiate athletics.[24][42][43][44][45] The original faculty were abolitionists and several of the institution's first students were African Americans and women. Some members of the faculty voiced concern over the college's prestige when the first black and female students arrived, but the inclusive ethos of Bates as a relatively progressive institution prevailed.[46] The college, under the direction of Cheney, rejected fraternities and sororities on grounds of unwarranted exclusivity.[15] Cheney was a friend of U.S. Senator Charles Sumner who was among the most radical of the abolitionists in the U.S. Congress. Sumner also believed in integrated schools and equal rights for all races.[47] Cheney asked Sumner to create a collegiate motto for Bates and he suggested the Latin phrase amore ac studio which he translated as "with love for learning" or "with ardor and devotion."[48] During the American Civil War, Bates played an important role in advocating for the rights of African Americans. Many alumni fought or otherwise served in the Civil War. During this time, the Bates Board of Fellows was established. Notable members included James Blaine and Nelson Dingley.[49]


Bates students participating in Ivy Day, in 1943

The debate society of Bates College began to compete internationally and became the first intercollegiate international debate team in the United States.[23] In 1894, George Colby Chase led Bates to increased national recognition.[50] During the Chase presidency, the college's debate team became intercollegiate and associated with the college's academic reputation.[51][52] In 1920, the Bates Outing Club was founded and is one of the oldest collegiate outing clubs in the country, the first at a private college to include both men and women from inception, and one of the few outing clubs that remains entirely student run.[53][54]

In February 1920, the Brooks Quimby Debate Council, defeated Harvard College during the national debate tournament held at Lewiston City Hall. After this, Bates was established as a dominant force in collegiate debate. In 1921, the college's debate team participated in the first intercontinental collegiate debate in history against the Oxford Union's debate team at the University of Oxford. In 1922, The New York Times called Bates "the power centre of college debating in America."[55] Oxford's first debate in the United States was against Bates in Lewiston, Maine, in September 1923.[56] Also in 1923, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge was given an honorary degree by Bates upon his election to the presidency. In addition, numerous academic buildings were constructed throughout the 1920s.

Robert F. Kennedy, in front of Smith Hall, during Winter Carnival

During 1943, the V-12 Navy College Training Program was introduced at Bates. Bates maintained a considerable female student body and "did not suffer [lack in student enrollment due to military service involvement] as much as male-only institutions such as Bowdoin and Dartmouth."[23] It was during this time that future U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy enrolled along with hundreds of other sailor-students.[57][58][59][60]

The college began to compete athletically with Colby College, and in 1964, with Bowdoin created the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium. All three of the schools compete in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) and share one of the ten oldest football rivalries in the United States.[61]

In 1967, President Thomas Hedley Reynolds promoted the idea of teacher-scholars at Bates and secured the construction of numerous academic and recreational buildings.[62] Most notably, Reynolds was integral to the acquisition of the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area. Under Reynolds, Bates ceased being identified with any particular religion. Although never a sectarian college, Bates has historic ties to the Northern Freewill Baptist denomination whose members were instrumental in its founding. It maintained a nominal link to the Baptist tradition for 115 years. In 1970, that link ended when the college catalog no longer described Bates as a "Christian college." Bates College contributed to the movement to make standardized testing scores optional for college admission. In 1984, it became one of the first liberal arts colleges to make the SAT and ACT optional in the admission process.[63] In 1989, Donald West Harward became president of Bates and greatly expanded the college's overall infrastructure by building 22 new academic, residential and athletic facilities, including Pettengill Hall, the Residential Village, and the Bates College Coastal Center at Shortridge.[64][65]

21st century

Elaine Tuttle Hansen was elected as the first female president of Bates College[66] and "developed greater resources for financial aid, increased diversity of the faculty and student body, strengthened environmental sustainability and stewardship, and made technological advances."[67] She went on to undertake the largest capital campaign of the college, totaling $120 million in fundraising. Hansen began to modernize residential and academic buildings to include state of the art equipment and amenities. After announcing her retirement, it was rumored that Harvard University dean, Clayton Spencer was to be appointed as her successor.[68] On Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, Spencer assumed the presidency. Her subsequent inauguration speech, "Questions Worth Asking" drew 2,500 students, faculty, alumni, and distinguished members of the American collegiate educational system in Merrill Gymnasium.[69]

As of 2016, the college is constructing new facilities, residential dorms and academic buildings,[70] and developing new areas of study.[71] In February 2016, a gift of $19 million was given to the college in support of its new Digital and Computational Studies program and new faculty members by six families and trustees.[72] The chair of the Board of Trustees, Michael Bonney and his wife, Alison Grott Bonney gave $10 million, the largest donation by a single party in the history of Bates.[73] President Spencer said of the donation, "I am thrilled that we can move forward immediately to launch the program in digital and computational studies, and very pleased that this new venture will happen in the context of bringing strength to existing disciplines as well."[74]


Entrance of the college's oldest academic building, Hathorn Hall[75]

Bates offers 36 departmental and interdisciplinary program majors and 25 secondary concentrations, and confers Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees. Bates College enrolls 1,773 students, 200 of whom study abroad each semester.[76] The college operates in a 4–4–1 academic calendar. This includes two semesters, plus a Short Term consisting of five weeks in the Spring.[77] Two Short Terms are required for graduation, with a maximum of three.[77] The student-faculty ratio is 10:1, and 100% of tenured faculty possess the highest degree in their field.[78]

The largest social science academic department at Bates College is its Economics department, followed by Psychology, Politics, and History. The largest natural science academic department is the Biology department, followed by Mathematics, Physics, and Geology.[79] Bates College's Economics Department was the most cited of liberal arts colleges in the United States in 2001.[80]

Bates College offers a Liberal Arts-Engineering Dual Degree Program with Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science. The program consists of three years at Bates and a followed two years at the school of engineering resulting in a degree from Bates and the school of engineering.[16] In 2015, Bates has produced 20 Bates students who received Fulbright fellowships, attaining the distinction of "Fulbright Top Producer", and subsequently breaking the college's previous record.[81][82]

Students at Bates take a First-Year Seminar, which provides a template for the rest of the four years at Bates. The student selects a specific topic offered by the college, and works together in a small class with a scholar-in-field professor of that topic, to study and critically analyze the subject. All first-year seminars place heavy importance on writing ability, and composition in order to facilitate the process of complex and fluid ideas being put down on paper. Seminars range from Constitutional analysis to mathematical theorizing. After three complete years at Bates, each student participates in a senior thesis or capstone that demonstrates expertise and overall knowledge of the Major, Minor or General Education Concentrations (GECs). The Senior Thesis is an intensive program that begins with the skills taught in the first-year program and concludes with a compiled thesis that stresses research and innovation.[83]

Gomes Chapel at a winter nightfall


Bates College has a 10:1 student-faculty ratio and the average class size is about fifteen students. All members of the faculty are scholars who work to innovate their teaching program and fields. Bates also priorities student interaction with peers in the form of collaboration and self-directed course instruction. The academic culture at Bates stresses collaboration, innovation and critical analysis.[84][85][86] Many of the teachers and students are involved in each other's research and course work.[87]

Purposeful work

Bates has a college-wide initiative that focuses on students identifying and cultivating their interests and strengths to acquire the knowledge, experiences, necessary to pursue their aspirations with academic integrity, and innovation. This program includes skill-specific course instruction by leading scholars, accomplished alumni, and industry leaders.[88]


The Bell Tower of Hathorn, with a distinctive Gregorian green cap

The college extended admission to 1,208 students out of 5,636. U.S. News & World Report classifies Bates as "most selective".[89] The average SAT Score was 2135, and the average ACT score was 32. Bates has a Test Optional Policy, which gives the applicant the choice to not send in their standardized test scores.[90] Bates' non-submitting students averaged only 0.05 points lower on their collegiate Grade Point Average.[91] Bates College had a regular decision applicant acceptance rate of 17.8% for the academic year 2014/2015.[78] Its combined early-decision rate was 21.4%.[79][92] Bates has an acceptance rate of 2% for transfer students, as of 2013.[93] The comprehensive fee for the 2014/2015 academic year was $64,590.[94] Bates covers 100% of financial need for students, and has an average financial package of $42,217. As of 2014, 44% of students utilize financial aid.[95]

As of 2015, the gender demographic of Bates College breaks down to 49% male and 51% female. 22% of U.S. students are students of color and 12% of admitted students are first generation to college.

The educational background for admitted students are mixed: 49% of students attended public schools and 51% attended private schools. About 89% of students who apply are in the top 10% of their class.[92][96]

Bates has a 95% freshman retention rate. Although all 50 states are represented, a significant portion of 45% of all applicants, transfer and non-transfer, are from New England.[79]


University rankings
Forbes[97] 70
Liberal arts colleges
U.S. News & World Report[98] 25
Washington Monthly[99] 8

In 2009, Newsweek described Bates as a "Hidden Ivy", one of a number of elite colleges and universities outside of the Ivy League.[100] It is one of the highest ranked colleges in Maine.[101][102] Bates was ranked 8th among liberal arts colleges in the country by the Washington Monthly, in 2015.[103] In 2016, Niche, formerly College Prowler, graded Bates with an 'A+' for academics, 'A+' for campus food, 'A+' for technology, and an 'A' for campus quality.[104] As of 2015, Alumni Factor, which measures alumni success, ranks Bates first in Maine and among the top schools nationally.[105]

Bates was ranked first for 'Best Value' by Princeton Review in 2005.[106]

The college selected 10 colleges as its peers, namely Amherst, Bowdoin, Carleton, Yale, Williams, Wellesley, Middlebury, Pomona, Swarthmore, and Wesleyan.[107]

Bates ranked eighth nationally in 2015 according to the National Collegiate Scouting Association's annual report, which ranks colleges based on student-athlete graduation rates, academic strength, and athletic prowess.[108]

For the 2015/2016 year, U.S News & World Report, ranked Bates as the 25th best liberal arts college in the United States, putting the college in the top 5% of all liberal arts colleges.[109]

For 2014/2015, Forbes ranked Bates as the 70th best college in the United States in its list of 650 Top Colleges putting Bates in the top 10% of all colleges in the nation.[110] Forbes also awarded the college the "Forbes Financial Grade" of an 'A'.[111]


The overall architectural design of the college can be traced through the Colonial Revival architecture movement, and has distinctive Neoclassical, Georgian, Colonial, and Gothic features. Colonial restoration influence can be seen in the architecture of certain buildings, however many of the off campus houses' architecture was heavily influenced by the Victorian era.[112]

Aerial view of the central part of campus

Bates has a 133-acre main campus, in Lewiston, Maine. It also maintains a 600-acre Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area,[113] and an 80-acre Coastal Center fresh water habitat at Shortridge.[114] The eastern campus is situated around Lake Andrews, where many residential halls are located. The quad of the campus connects academic buildings, athletics arenas, and residential halls. Bates College houses over 1 million volumes of articles, papers, subscriptions, audio/video items and government articles among all three libraries and all academic buildings. The George and Helen Ladd Library houses 620,000 catalogued volumes, 2,500 serial subscriptions and 27,000 audio/video items.[79] Coram Library houses almost 200,000 volumes of articles, subscriptions and audio/video items.[115] Approximately 150,000 volumes of texts, papers, and alumnus work are housed within academic buildings.

The most famous items in the library's collection include, copies of the original Constitution of Maine, personal correspondence of James K. Polk and Hannibal Hamlin, original academic papers of Henry Clay, personal documents of Edmund Muskie, original printings of newspaper articles written by James G. Blaine, and selected collections of other prominent religious, political and economic figures, both in Maine, and the United States.[116][117]

The campus provides 33 Victorian Houses, 6 residential halls, and one residential village.[79] The college maintains 12 academic building with Lane Hall serving as the administration building on campus. Lane Hall houses the offices of the President, Dean of the Faculty, Registrar, and Provost, among others.[118]

Bates is located on the outskirts of Lewiston, Maine. As a former mill town, Lewiston has a large French Canadian ethnic presence due to migration from Quebec in the 19th century. Lewiston is situated on the Androscoggin River in south-central Maine.[119] Bates was ranked #6 in CollegeNET's "50 Most Beautiful College Quads" in 2015.[120]

Olin Arts Center

The Olin Arts Center maintains three teaching sound proof studios, five class rooms, five seminar rooms, ten practice rooms with pianos, and a 300-seat grand recital hall. It holds the college's Steinway concert grand piano, Disklavier, William Dowd harpsichord, and their 18th century replica forte piano. The studios are modernized with computers, synthesizers, and various recording equipment.[121] The center houses the departments of Art and Music, and was given to Bates by the F. W. Olin Foundation in 1986.[122] The center has had numerous Artists in Residence, such as Frank Glazer, and Leyla McCalla.[123][124] The Olin Arts Center has joined with the Maine Music Society, to produces musical performances throughout Maine. In 2007, they hosted an event that garnered 260 musicians music recital inspired by Johannes Brahms.[125]

Museum of Art

Founded in 1955, the Bates College Museum of Art (MoA) holds contemporary and historic pieces. In the 1930s, the college secured a private holding from the Museum of Modern Art of Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, for students participating in the 'Bates Plan'.[87] It holds 5,000 pieces and objects of contemporary domestic and international art. The museum holds over 100 original artworks, photographs and sketches from Marsden Hartley.[126][127][128] The MoA offers numerous lectures, artist symposiums, and workshops. The entire space is split into three components, the larger Upper Gallery, smaller Lower Gallery, and the Synergy Gallery which is primarily used for student exhibits and research. Almost 20,000 visitors are attracted to the MoA annually.[129]

Bates-Morse Mountain Area

Main article: Bates-Morse Mountain

This conservation area of 600 acres is available to Bates students for academic, extracurricular, and research purposes. This area is mainly salt marshes and coastal uplands. The college participates in preserving the plants, animals and natural ecosystems within this area as a part of their Community-Engaged Learning Program. Due to overall size, the site is frequently used by other Maine schools such as Bowdoin College for their Nordic Skiing practices.[130][131]

Bates College Coastal Center at Shortridge

This coastal center owned by Bates College, provides various academic programs, lectures, extracurricular activities, and research endeavors for students. 80 acres of wetlands, and woodlands with a fresh water pond, are available to numerous science departments and programs at Bates. There are two buildings on the land, a conference building, which can accommodate 15 people overnight, and a laboratory structured with an art studio on the upper floor. This area is also home to the Shortridge Summer Residency Program which provides students, faculty and researchers to work and study on the coastal land of Shortridge during the summer. Science majors and faculty work on site-based issues such as coastal changes, sea level fluctuations and public policy.[132]

Student life

A snow-covered Chase Hall, houses the college's restaurant, the Den, and the bookstore

The college's dining services have been featured on numerous national publications.[133][134][135] Bates was ranked eighth in the country for their dining services among all universities and colleges nationally, by Usatoday in 2015.[136] The college's dining services received the grade of 'A+' by Niche in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.[137] In 2005, Princeton Review ranked Bates as #7 out of "351 Colleges for Great Food".[138] The college holds one dining hall to encourage "a familial sense of its community", and offers two floors of seating. The college also institutes 'The Napkin Board' "a place where students can leave comments, complaints, and suggestions—ensures that students actually have a lot of say in what Commons [the dining hall] serves".[137] Bates was ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country in The Daily Meal's "75 Best Colleges for Food in America" ranking for 2014.[139] All meals and catered events on campus are served by Bates Dining Services, which makes a concentrated effort to purchase foods from suppliers and producers within the state of Maine, like Oakhurst Dairy and others.[140] The Den, serves as an on-campus restaurant, open until 2 AM on weekdays.[141]

The college also holds an annual "Harvest Dinner" during Thanksgiving that features a school wide dining experience including a buffet and life musical performances.[142][143] In 2015, shortly before the commencement of the Harvest Dinner, American rapper, T-Pain, performed.[144] Martin Luther King Day at Bates is celebrated annually with classes being canceled, and performances, events, keynote talks are held in observance. Bates alumnus Benjamin Mays, taught Martin Luther King Jr. at Morehouse College. It is a day marked by keynotes from well known scholars who speak on the subjects of race, justice, and equality in America. In 2016, the college invited William Jelani Cobb, to speak at the college on MLK Day.[145][146]

Bates College, since conception, has rejected fraternities and sororities.[15] The college's resources, faculty, and rigorous academic life allow the college to offer students 110 clubs and organizations on campus.[147] Among those is the competitive eating club, the Fat Cats, Ultimate Frisbee, and the Student Government.[147] The largest club is the Outing Club, which leads canoeing, kayaking, rafting, camping and backpacking trips throughout Maine. The Bates College Outing Club is one of the oldest in the country.[148][149]

The Bates Student, the oldest coed college newspaper in the United States

Student media

The Bates Student

Main article: The Bates Student

Bates College's oldest operating newspaper is The Bates Student, created in 1873. It is one of the oldest continuously published college weeklies in the United States, and the oldest co-ed college weekly in the country. Alumni of the student media programs at Bates have won the Pulitzer Prize,[150] and have their later work featured on major news sources.[151][152] It circulates approximately 1,900 copies around the campus and Lewiston area. Since 1990, there has been an electronic version of the newspaper online.[153] The newspaper provides access free of charge to a searchable database of articles stretching back to its inception on its website.


Main article: WRBC

WRBC is the college radio station of Bates College and was first aired in 1958. Originally started as an AM station at Bates, it began with the efforts of rhetoric professor and debate coach Brooks Quimby. It is ranked by The Princeton Review as the 12th best college radio station in the United States and Canada, making it the top college radio in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.[154]

A capella

There are four a cappella groups on campus. The Manic Optimists and the Deansmen are all-male, the Merminaders are all female and the coed group is known as TakeNote.[155] All groups have performed all over Maine and the Northeast.

Brooks Quimby Debate Council

The Olin Concert Hall, houses keynotes, performances, and special debate tournaments.

Arguably the most prestigious student organization at Bates is the Brooks Quimby Debate Council, due to endowment allocation, relative participation rate, awards and historical significance.[156] The formation of the team predates the establishment of the college itself as the debate society was founded within the Maine State Seminary. It was headed by Bates alumnus and teacher F. Brooks Quimby and became the first intercollegiate international debate team in the United States.[23]

During the 1930s, the debate society was subject to 'The Quimby Institute' which pitted each and every debate student against Brooks Quimby himself. This is where he began to engage heated debate with them that stressed "flawless assertions" and resulted in every error made by the student to be carefully scrutinized and teased.[23] Bates has an annual and traditional debate with Oxford, Cambridge and Dartmouth College. When debating against Bowdoin College, there is a long-standing tradition of wrapping the winning student's academic scarf around the neck of Bowdoin's statue of a polar bear.[23] There were multiple instances of students dipping the academic scarf in gasoline and igniting it, charring the statue's neck.[24] It competes in the American Parliamentary Debate Association domestically, and competes in the World Universities Debating Championships, internationally. As of 2013, the debate council was ranked 5th, nationally.[157]


Ivy growing on the side of Hathorn, where students install their respective class placards

Ivy Day

Main article: Ivy stone

The class graduates of Bates College participate in an Ivy Day which installs a granite placard onto one of the academic or residential buildings on campus. They serve as a symbol of the class and their respective history both academically and socially. Some classes donate to the college, in the form gates, facades, and door outlines, by inscribing or creating their own version of symbolic icons of the college's seal or other prominent insignia. This usually occurs on graduation day, but may occur on later dates with alumni returning to the campus. This tradition is shared with the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University. On Ivy Day, members of Phi Beta Kappa are announced.[20][21]

Winter Carnival

Nearly a century old, this tradition "celebrates cold and snowy weather, which is a trademark of fierce Maine winters".[22] The college has held, on odd to even years, a Winter Carnival which comprises a themed four day event that includes performances, dances, and games. Past Winter Carnivals have included "a Swiss Olympic skier swooshing down Mount David", faculty and student football games, faculty and administration skits, over-sized snow sculptures, "serenading of the dormitories", and an expeditions to Camden. When Edmund Muskie was a student at the college, he participated in a torch relay from Augusta to Lewiston in celebration of the 1960 Winter Olympics.[158] Robert F. Kennedy, with his naval classmates, built a replica of their boat back in Massachusetts in front of Smith Hall, during their carnival. This tradition is second only to Dartmouth College as the oldest of its kind in the United States.[159] Students are known to participate in what has been colloquially termed as the 'Dartmouth Challenge', which consists of alcohol related activities, closely related to that of parent ritual Newman Day. It was initially started to make fun of Dartmouth's unofficial mascot Keggy the Keg.[23][24] The carnival has been hosted by the Bates Outing Club since its conception.[160]

Puddle Jump

On a day near Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, the Bates College Outing Club initiates the annual Puddle Jump. A hole is cut by a chainsaw or by the original axe used in the inaugural Puddle Jump of 1975, in Lake Andrews. Students from all class years jump into the hole, sometimes in costumes, to celebrate, "exuberance at the end of a hard winter." By mid-evening, they celebrate with donuts, cider and a cappella performances.[25]


The college's official mascot is the bobcat, and official color is garnet. The college athletically competes in the NCAA Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which also includes Amherst, Connecticut, Hamilton, Middlebury, Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan, Williams, and Maine rivals Bowdoin and Colby in the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium (CBB). This is one of the oldest football rivalries in the United States. This consortium is a series of historically highly competitive football games ending in the championship game between the three schools. Bates has won this championship at total of eleven times including 2014, and in 2015, beat Bowdoin 31–0 after their 34–28 overtime home victory over Colby.[161] In 2015, the Women's Rowing Team was ranked 3rd nationally.[162] In the same year, they won the NCAA Division III Women's Rowing, NESCAC, and New England Rowing championships along with the President's Cup Regatta, Head of Charles Regatta, and the Bates' Invitational.[162] The men's rowing team placed first in the ECAC/NIRC Regatta and the Bates Invitational. Alumni, Andrew Byrnes (class of 2005), won the Olympic Gold Medal while rowing for the Canadian National Team, in 2008 in the Beijing Olympics.

In 2016, the women's track team won the Maine State Championships.[163]

Bates maintains 31 varsity teams, and 9 club teams, including sailing, cycling, ice hockey, rugby, and water polo.[164]

Athletic facilities

Football game on Garcelon Field against Amherst College.

Bates has athletic facilities that include:

  • Alumni Gymnasium & Merrill Gymnasium
  • Bates Squash Center & the Wallach Tennis Center
  • Campus Avenue Field & Garcelon Field
  • Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building & the Davis Fitness Center
  • Leahey Baseball Pitch & the Lafayette Street Pitch
  • Underhill Arena Ice Rink
  • Rowing Boathouse
  • Russell Street Track
  • Tarbell Pool


Bates College signed onto the American College and University President's Climate Commitment in 2007.[165] In 2010, the college was named one of 15 colleges in the United States to the "Green Honor Roll", by Princeton Review.[166] In 2005, President Elaine Tuttle Hansen stated, "Bates will purchase its entire electricity supply from renewable energy sources in Maine" and secured a new contract, adding a premium of $76,000 to their energy supply.[167] The United States Environmental Protection Agency honored Bates as a member of the Green Power Leadership Club due to the fact that 96% of energy used on campus is from renewable resources.[168] All newly developed buildings and facilities are built to LEED Silver standards.[169] As of 2015, Bates is constructing a new LEED Silver standard-based residential building, housing 200+ students as a part of their Campus Life Project.[170]

Notable alumni

As of 2015, there are 24,000 Bates College Alumni.[83] In 2016, two Bates alumni were featured on the Forbes' 30 Under 30 list.[171]

Notable individuals who have studied at Bates include: Presidential candidate, and Secretary of State Edmund S. Muskie (1936), U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (1944), Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Court Vincent L. McKusick (1943), Civil War commander Holman S. Melcher (1862), Olympic gold medalist Andrew Byrnes (2005), actor David Hasselhoff (1972), television anchor Bryant Gumbel (1970),[172] President of Beloit College H. Scott Bierman (1977), President of Swarthmore College Valerie Smith (1969), Civil rights leader, Benjamin Mays (1920), suffragette Ella J. Knowles Haskell (1884), progressive Carl E. Milliken (1897), CEO of Medco David B. Snow, Jr (1976), quantum physicist Steven Girvin (1964), founding member of the Boston Red Sox Harry Lord (1908), neuroscientist and author Lisa Genova (1983), political activist William Stringfellow (1949), Cannes Film Festival-winning filmmaker Daniel Stedman (2001), inventor of baseball's fastbreak Frank Keaney (1911), CEO of Japonica Partners Paul Kazarian (1978), and the first woman to graduate from a New England college Mary Mitchell (1869).

The college has extended honorary degrees to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, American novelist Robert Frost, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Bates alumni have lead the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of numerous states, and organizations.

Alma mater

Benjamin E. Bates, college namesake

The Bates College Alma Mater was written by Irving H. Blake in 1911.[173]

"Here's to Bates, our Alma Mater dear,

Proudest and fairest of her peers;

We pledge to her our loyalty,

Our faith and our honor thru the years.

Long may her praises resound.

Long may her sons exalt her name.

May her glory shine while time endures,

Here's to our Alma Mater's fame."

Presidents of Bates College

Bates is governed by the President and the Board of Trustees which collectively form the corporation of Bates College. The president is the chief executive officer of the corporation and principal academic officer of the college. She or he is ex officio a member of the Board of Trustees.[174]

Presidents' House, in Lewiston, Maine

There have been eight presidents of Bates College:

  1. Oren Burbank Cheney (1863–1894)
  2. George Colby Chase (1894–1919)
  3. Clifton Daggett Gray (1920–1944)
  4. Charles Franklin Phillips (1944–1967)
  5. Thomas Hedley Reynolds (1967–1989)
  6. Donald West Harward (1989–2002)
  7. Elaine Tuttle Hansen (2002–2011)
  8. Clayton Spencer (2012–present)

In fiction

  • The Sopranos (S1, E5): In the episode entitled, "College", Tony Soprano takes his daughter, Meadow on a trip to Maine to visit colleges that she is considering. They first visit Bates, while walking past the college's chapel she states, "[Bates College has] a 48-to-52 male-female ratio, which is great, strong liberal arts program and this cool olin arts center for music."[175] She later mentions the college's sexual atmosphere.[176] This episode was rated as the best of the series by Time magazine.[177]
  • The Simpsons (S27, E8):[178] In the episode entitled, "Paths of Glory", it is suggested to Lisa Simpson that she transfers to Bates College.[179][180][181]

In media

Bates has been subject to widespread media attention as one of the most expensive colleges in the United States and in June 2011, was ranked the most expensive in the United States.[182][183][184][185][186][187] A statement was released by the college a month later stating, "while it’s expensive to provide a Bates education — a highly personalized, academically rigorous experience in a residential environment — the college strives to do so at the lowest price consistent with that level of quality," later adding that "[Bates] takes a ‘comprehensive fee’ approach — presenting families our true overall charges in one clear total — we lead that list, followed immediately by four other schools that do likewise."[188]


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Further reading

  • Alfred Williams Anthony, Bates College and Its Background (Philadelphia: Judson Press, 1936).
  • Bates College Catalog 2004–2006, Lewiston, ME: Bates College, 2004.
  • Bates Student, 1873–2006
  • Emeline Cheney. The Story of the Life and Work of Oren B. Cheney (Boston: Morning Star Publishing, 1907).
  • Mabel Eaton ed., General Catalogue of Bates College and Cobb Divinity School: 1864–1930 (Lewiston, ME: Bates College, 1930)

External links