An Oasis of Calm and Tranquility

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Zeta Psi Served as a Refuge for Edgar Bates ’72 During a Time of Conflict

Edgar Bates remembers well the atmosphere of angst and protest that surrounded college campuses in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and the University of Pennsylvania was no different. But to Edgar, Zeta Psi made all the difference in the world.

“As a Navy ROTC student and at a time of widespread anti-Vietnam protests on campus, Zeta Psi was an oasis of calm and relative tranquility,” he recalls.

Grateful to have a place that offered not only a sense of security, but a great feeling of belonging, Edgar chose to live in the house his junior and senior years.

“Living in the house is a personal decision, depending on the level of independence that is desired,” he comments. “For me, living there was ideal. I enjoyed the fellowship, tasteful dining, proximity to campus center, having a room to myself—and, of course, the parties!”

As a Wharton student, majoring in Economics, Edgar sometimes struggled to find balance between academic and social focuses, but in the end, he can say that Zeta Psi had a positive influence over his post-undergraduate education.

As a Navy ROTC student and at a time of widespread anti-Vietnam protests on campus, Zeta Psi was an oasis of calm and relative tranquility.

“I spent a lot of time playing backgammon, poker, and pool—to the detriment of any serious attention to academics,” he says. “Ironically, frittering away my undergraduate academic experience inspired me later in my career to complete three doctoral programs.”

Edgar’s military career began the day after graduation, when he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy. As Former Director of Maritime Domain Awareness, Naval Forces Europe, Naval Forces Africa, and Commander SIXTH Fleet, Edgar led a well-respected, cross-functional effort across the staff, implementing a comprehensive and coherent plan to accelerate Maritime Domain Awareness in both Africa and Europe.

Before being assigned to NAVEUR/NAVAF/C6F, Edgar worked in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations for almost 10 years. Prior to that, he served nine years as a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Navy, where he was instrumental in the integration of a revolutionary signal processing and tracking system within the Navy's Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS). He was a Principal Systems engineer at Raytheon and has directed and supported the activities of numerous large-scale software installation, test, and integration activities at sites around the world.

Today, he is a retired Navy civil servant with his last assignment being in Naples, Italy. 

After such a lengthy and successful career, it would be hard to imagine that four short years, long before, would still resonate with such joy. But for Edgar, he will always cherish the memories of his time as a Zeta Psi, staying connected to those he created lifelong friendships.

“I attended my first Spring Banquet this year, which was a great opportunity to reconnect and swap lies,” he laughs.

Edgar remains close to Ken Swain '72 who lives nearby him, and the two often meet for lunch. He also remains close to John Brown '72, who was a schoolmate long before Zeta Psi when they attended Deerfield prep school together. He also attended Homecoming in 2016 and had the pleasure of dropping by the house.

“It looked pretty much the same, although the holes in the carpets were a little bigger,” he says, laughing.