Mercedes Bates at the Alumni Centennial Awards. Mercedes Bates graduated in 1936 with a degree in Food and Nutrition. In 1967, Bates was appointed the Vice President of the General Mills Betty Crocker Division, becoming the first female corporate officer of General Mills. Bates created the Mercedes A. Bates Family Study Center in 1992, the first center to study entire lifespans of families. Bates has received the Distinguished Service Award and Distinguished Alumni Award.