Bates College shelled out more than $6 million for pandemic-related costs


Bates College campus in Lewiston. Steve Collins/ Sun Journal

LEWISTON – Despite spending more than $6 million on pandemic-related expenses, including extensive COVID-19 testing of students, Bates College said it anticipates “positive financial results for the current fiscal year that ends in June.

President Clayton Spencer said the good financial news means the college will increase salaries next year, make up for retirement contributions it halted and restore voluntary pay reductions among top staff members.

“Our success this year is a result of the extraordinary efforts of faculty and staff across the college, sustained over many months, together with strong adherence to public health guidelines by all,” Spencer said in a message to the college community.

After closing its campus in March 2020 when the pandemic hit, the college imposed hiring and pay freezes, travel restrictions, delayed spending on anything that wasn’t necessary immediately and other steps to lower costs in anticipation of a potentially difficult year financially.

As it turned out, despite the extra cost, the savings made enough difference to leave Bates in good enough standing to look ahead to a new fiscal year that appears far more normal.

Spencer said Bates is increasing pay for its hourly staff by 4% and upping the compensation for faculty and salaried staff by 2.5% in the coming fiscal year.

It is also increasing its introductory wage for new employees to at least $13.75 an hour. Anyone who’s worked for Bates for more than a year will earn at least $14 an hour, Spencer said.

Bates was able to operate with most of its students on campus for the fall and spring semesters this academic year, though they had to abide by strict public health rules that mandated masks, social distancing and even included a 12-day lockdown during a coronavirus outbreak that started in late March.

In her message, Spencer also offered her thanks to colleagues “for your flexibility, generosity and very hard work throughout this challenging year. Your creativity and persistence have enabled us to operate a full campus, in person, under pandemic conditions, allowing our students to continue with their education while keeping our community safe.”

“We should all be proud of what we have accomplished together, and I am truly grateful for your efforts,” she said.


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