George Colby Chase

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George Colby Chase
George Colby Chase.jpeg
2nd President of Bates College
In office
March 1, 1894 (1894-03-01) – November 1, 1919 (1919-11-01)
Preceded by Oren Burbank Cheney
Succeeded by Clifton Daggett Gray
Personal details
Born March 15, 1844
Unity, Maine
Died May 27, 1919
Lewiston, Maine
Alma mater Bates College
Harvard University
Profession Scholar

George Colby Chase (March 15, 1844 - May 27, 1919) was the second president of Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and an English scholar.

He was commonly known around the Bates community as "the great builder" as he developed and constructed numerous academic and residential buildings. Chase served as president of Bates College for 25 years, in which he was instrumental in the financial restructuring of the college and expansion of the campus. He oversaw the construction of 11 new buildings, including Coram Library, Rand Hall, the Central Heating Plant, the Chapel, Libbey Forum, the Carnegie Science Hall, and Chase Hall. He increased the student and faculty thee fold. He also quadrupled the school's endowment to approximately one million dollars.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Chase was born on March 15, 1844 in Unity, Maine. His parents were Freewill Baptists. At age 18 Chase enrolled at the Maine State Seminary and graduated from the Seminary program in 1864. He then enrolled in the college program at Bates College, graduating in 1868. After graduation he taught at the New Hampton Literary Institute, eventually returning to teach at Bates in 1870. In the 1870s, in pursuit his life's work, he returned to Lewiston and enrolled in the theological school, which later became a part of the college's religion department. Meanwhile, the Bates offered him a professorship of Greek and he spent the next year teaching and pursuing his studies in theology. After his spell teaching Greek he moved to teaching English. In order to better prepare himself, he spent a year as a graduate student at Harvard, returning in 1872 to join the Bates faculty as Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature.Chase attended Bates' Cobb Divinity School while teaching, but eventually decided not to pursue a career in ministry. Chase then studied at Harvard University, returning to Bates in 1872 to teach Rhetoric and English.[2]

Chase taught for 22 years and during that time his administrative skills were noticed by the current Bates College president, Oren Burbank Cheney. In the 1880s Chase took on many of the president's fundraising responsibilities, and in 1894, Chase became Bates' second president, when Oren Burbank Cheney retired. As president Chase greatly expanded the college campus, student body, and the endowment. Chase served as president until his death in 1919. He died shortly after signing the diplomas for the class of 1919. His house on Frye Street is currently part of College, and Chase Hall is named after him.

He has received several honorary degrees including University of New Brunswick and Bowdoin College.[2]

In 1872, he married Emma F. Millett, a former member of the Bates College's first graduating class. They had five children: George, Emma, Muriel, Elizabeth and Caroline. Chase died at his home in Lewiston, Maine on May 27, 1919 at the age of 75.


Chase was honored by Bates College with the construction of Chase Hall, which houses the Student Activities Center, the college book store, the postal center, the offices of several student organizations.[3]

See also[edit]


  • Chase, George M., George C. Chase: A Biography, (Boston: Houghton Milton, 1924).

External links[edit]