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Evalyn Bates

People @ Goddard

People @ Goddard

I think Goddard was one of the few places that took seriously the idea that adult college students could make their own minds up about what they wanted to do.

Real name

Evalyn Bates

People @ Goddard



Evalyn Cora Bates was one of the first two graduates of Goddard College’s four-year undergraduate program in 1943. Her 1957 graduate thesis from the University of Chicago -- "Development of the Goddard College Adult Education Program" -- was the first clear articulation of a low-residency, progressive education program.

In 1963 the Adult Degree Program was founded at Goddard College largely because of Evalyn's vision and hard work. It formed the basis for the many low-residency adult degree programs around the country.

Evalyn Bates opened the door to higher education to thousands of adult and non-traditional students, so we are proud to have her name grace our front door. Her thesis proposed that the Goddard model of education would:

  1. Evaluate progress and discuss successes and failures;
  2. Provide time to search for meaning;
  3. Provide situations for motivated students to achieve their goals;
  4. Provide opportunity for satisfying personal and social relationships;
  5. Encourage students to become who they truly are, expand their potential, and increase confidence with peers, allowing for continual life growth benefiting the individual and society;
  6. Be based on key situations that are part of daily life;
  7. Be imaginative, creative, and bold in design.

Read an article and interview with the late Evalyn Bates from the 2007 spring Clockworks issue.

Honorary Doctorate

On September 30, 2012 Goddard College President Barbara Vacarr presented Bates’ niece and surviving colleagues with a posthumous honorary doctorate degree to recognize Evalyn’s significant contributions to higher education. The degree was bestowed during a commencement ceremony for undergraduates who had completed a distance learning program very similar to the one Evalyn designed in 1963.

In her remarks to the graduating class, Goddard president Barbara Vacarr credited Bates with defining “a new learning model, one that changed the landscape of American education. She is the reason we are standing here today,” Vacarr said, “and her story defines the Goddard story in its fulness.”

People @ Goddard