Founder of Adult Education Program Evalyn Bates to Receive Posthumous Doctorate Degree

Plainfield, Vt. – It has been said that adult education as we know it would never have become a reality without Evalyn Bates. On September 30, Goddard College President Dr. Barbara Vacarr will present a posthumous Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters to recognize Evalyn Bates’ unequaled legacy in higher education.

In 1937, Bates graduated from Goddard Junior College, then located in Barre, Vt. When Goddard became a four-year college at its current location in Plainfield in 1938, she continued her studies and, in 1943, was one of the first two graduates of Goddard College.

In 1957, Bates earned her master’s degree at the University of Chicago and brought her thesis, “Development of the Goddard College Adult Education Program,” back to Goddard, where she worked throughout the 1960s as special assistant to Goddard’s founding president, Tim Pitkin.

In August of 1963, Bates and Goddard College introduced the first Adult Degree Program (ADP) residency of its kind in the nation, which is the program that survives at Goddard and colleges around the world today.

“Evalyn Bates changed the paradigm of American higher education,” said Goddard President Dr. Barbara Vacarr. “She is an integral part of the history of Goddard. Her model has been replicated across the country and has opened the doors of higher education to countless individuals. Goddard and its graduates have a long history of innovation in education. Particularly now, when higher education is in critical need of reinvention to make it relevant, accessible and affordable, we recognize the innovative leaders who have had a lasting impact. This recognition of Evalyn Bates is long overdue, and with this award, we celebrate her legacy.”

A recent adult graduate of Goddard’s low-residency Master of Arts in of Education program, Jana Johnson-Davis, shares her experiences in the low-residency, student-centered, adult model of education at Goddard:

“Completing a master’s degree while working as an educator and raising a family is hard. The low-residency model at Goddard helped me fit my dream of making a contribution to the world of public education, a reality. By the end of my first residency, I received support and meaningful advisement from world-class professors in the field and formed relationships with like-minded educators from around the world. Plus, Goddard affirmed my ideas and made me feel like the world needed to hear what I had to say.”

Bates’ contributions to higher education have benefited thousands of students who attended not only Goddard College, but universities and colleges across the country who adopted Bates’s work . This includes Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusets, where President Vacarr herself attended a low-residency adult education program that is a direct descendent of Bates’ adult degree program.

The award ceremony to honor Evalyn Bates will take place as part of the fall 2012 undergraduate program commencement ceremony at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont on September 30th, with a reception at 3:00pm and ceremony at 4:00pm.

As Goddard College enters its sesquicentennial year in 2013, Goddard will host a series of celebrations to honor alumni and community members who have contributed to the College’s excellence.

About Goddard College

The mission of Goddard College is to advance cultures of rigorous inquiry, collaboration and lifelong learning, where individuals take imaginative and responsible action in the world.

Initially founded in 1863 as the Goddard Seminary in Barre, Vermont, Goddard College later moved to its current Plainfield, Vermont campus and was chartered in 1938 by founding President Royce “Tim” Pitkin. In 1963, Goddard became the first American college to offer low-residency adult degree programs. Now offering accredited MA, MFA, BA and BFA degree programs from the main campus in Plainfield, Vermont and sites in Seattle and Port Townsend, Washington, Goddard’s low-residency education model offers the best of on-campus and distance education, with experienced faculty advisors, rigorous on-campus residencies, and the freedom to study from anywhere.

Important Announcement

The Board of Directors for Goddard College have made the difficult decision to close the college at the end of the 2024 Spring term.  


Current Goddard students will have the opportunity to complete their degrees at the same tuition rate through a teach-out with like-minded institution, Prescott College. Updates and scholarship funds will be available in the coming weeks and months. Information will be posted to

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