Spencer: Liberal arts colleges face tough times, but Bates is ready

Fast-changing technological and economic relationships “are changing the place of America in the world, and of higher education in America,” the next Bates president told alumni gathered for Reunion 2012. And in the face of that challenge, Clayton Spencer wondered, how should Bates respond?

“It’s not enough simply to circle the wagons and insist that small is better, or that nothing can replace the human factor in education,” Spencer told enthusiastic listeners on the Friday evening of Reunion, June 8.

“How do we think about Bates and places like Bates in the context of this challenging world?” she asked. “How do we make a case that we’re still important, that it’s still worth it to come to Bates, that the education you got here is still worth something?”

Sharing the podium with interim President Nancy Cable at an event launching Reunion Weekend, Spencer was candid in her views about the world for which Bates is educating students, as well as the strengths and the needs the college brings to that work.

Her address followed an opening presentation, likewise warmly received, by Cable, who has led Bates since July 2011. Bates Trustee Karl Mills ’82 introduced the presidents.Culminating in a standing ovation, the alumni welcome was warm for the leader who will take office July 1. The “standing O” was preceded by whoops of enthusiasm about points she made and appreciative laughter at Spencer’s humor.

Cable looked back at a year that was anything but a placeholder between “real” presidents: a year marked by the implementation of a dance major, the opening of the renovated Hedge and Roger Williams halls, the emergence of a reinvigorated Bates Career Development Center, and an excellent run in athletics.

But if Cable offered the year in review, Spencer looked ahead to the future of Bates in an address shot through with optimism, offering two initial recommendations.

Original source here.


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