A fixture on the New College campus for more than three decades, Professor Emerita Margaret “Peggy” Bates transcended her small town roots in Michigan and Illinois to become an active scholar on African politics and history, as well as international law and relations. While at New College, she served as a professor of political science from 1971-1995 and as the College’s interim provost from 1989-1992. Following her retirement from full-time teaching in 1995, she was named a professor emerita of political science in 1996.
During her career, Bates authored numerous scholarly books, articles and papers on the historical and economic development of Africa. She also served as editor for the African Studies Bulletin; a member of the board of editors for The Journal of Politics, African Affairs and African Studies Review; as president of the Sarasota-Manatee Chapter of the United Nations Association; and as a member of the American Society of International Law, the American Political Science Association, African Studies Association and numerous other professional organizations.
But despite her lengthy resume, enviable list of countries traveled to and prestigious academic credentials, Bates will be remembered most at New College for her passionate commitment to the College’s students and to teaching.
Bates arrived at New College as a professor of political science in 1971 after serving for eight years as an associate professor of government at Smith College. Immediately, her impact was felt both inside the classroom as well as in the residence halls on campus.
A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rockford College in Rockford, Illinois (1945), Margaret Bates went on to earn master’s degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1944, the University of Bristol (England) in 1951 and Makerere College (Uganda) in 1952. In 1958, she received a doctorate of philosophy (D. Phil.) from Oxford University, where she also was named a prestigious Ford Fellow. She held an honorary doctor of laws degree (L.L.D.) from Ohio Wesleyan University (1974) as well.
In addition to her work at New College, Bates volunteered and served with numerous community organizations in the Sarasota-Manatee and greater Tampa Bay areas. Those organizations included the Women’s Resource Center, Florida Humanities Council, Sarasota Institute for Lifetime Learning, Women’s Legal Fund and the Sarasota Phi Beta Kappa Association.
Professor Bates passed away in 2009 following a brief battle with complications related to an infection of her heart. Bates was 85 years old.