The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Let’s Get Personal: A Chat with Garry W. Jenkins

Hannah Kothari
President Garry Jenkins holding a picture of him and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“Alright, we’re rollin.’” 

As I started recording our conversation, I glanced around the freshly decorated room. I observed that we were not alone, but rather accompanied by an audience of greenery; plants adorned each corner of the room, prints of familiar faces plastered to the wall beamed at me.

As the sun began to set, and the image of Lake Andrews peaking through the windows dimmed, I asked my first question of many to President Garry W. Jenkins.

Author’s note: Certain responses were edited for brevity and clarity.

What are you grateful for at this very moment?

I’m grateful for our community. Today, literally just before this meeting, I was at a “farewell” for Hope, our Assistant Vice President for Human Resources, who is leaving us. But just when you lose someone who is as wonderful as they are, like Hope, it also reminds you what a great community we have. So, I’m in a grateful place right now.

What’s your favorite book and why?

My favorite book is probably My Beloved World by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The book is her autobiography. And it’s just really a great work. There are lots of lessons about law, lessons about belonging, and lessons about leadership that I find really inspiring. You know, my career and work has been about those things. And, and I love the way that she weaves all of those things together.

What about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor are you drawn to?

She is a terrific jurist. She’s sometimes referred to as a lawyer’s lawyer. She’s really methodical in her approach as a lawyer, but also, her life story is an inspiration. She’s had a remarkable career, but also in her opinions, I find that she obviously always has a fidelity to law, but she also thinks about the people that are impacted. Her judicial philosophy, her opinions, her approach always keeps both things front and center. I think that’s really important and remarkable.

What is the book that you believe everybody should read?

The lawyer in me says To Kill a Mockingbird.

What’s something that made you smile today?

Jon [Lee, Jenkins’ husband] brought me a chai tea latte from Starbucks. If I’m going to Starbucks, I’m having a chai tea latte, it’s my go-to order. Always, always, no matter the weather. My order’s always a nonfat, extra hot chai. 

I’m a tea drinker. I don’t do coffee – I never picked it up. I feel like I missed my window of opportunity once I graduated from law school.

What’s your favorite sport to watch?

Oh, tennis. I play doubles most often, but when I watch, I watch singles. I watch men, I watch women. I love tennis, it’s my favorite sport.

Have you been playing tennis your whole life?

I started playing when I was about nine or ten, and played until my freshman year of high school. I kind of stopped playing until about 15 years later, then I picked it up again. Now I try to play once a week.

Does your husband Jon play tennis with you?

Jon doesn’t play as often, except for when I convince him to play with me. He was actually a very good player in high school, but he doesn’t play as often anymore. But he’s a runner, that’s really what he does. He did a five mile run with the cross country team in the fall, something that I could never do.

Sometimes you just have to know “these are the things I’m good at, those are the things you’re good at.”

What is a movie you could watch every day?

The Devil Wears Prada. Now, I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite movie, but I think it’s very rewatchable. But you know, you want something that’s maybe not super heavy that has a little lightness to it if you’re watching it every day.

If you could only see one color, but all shades of it, which one would it be?

Green. I love green. But also, technically, I think the human eye sees more shades of green – so if you’re only going to choose one, you want to maximize.

Fair enough. You have a lot of plants, I see. Are you a hydrangea fan?

Yes, well, those are fake. I got those during the pandemic when we all started talking on Zoom calls. I was like, “oh, I need something for my zoom or my office Zoom background game.” So I found very nice looking fake flowers and I brought them with me because they’re actually really nice looking.

Describe your perfect day.

Well, my perfect day, as much as I love Bates, is a vacation day. It’s tennis in the morning, then a light breakfast, hopefully at a place with a pool. Then I’d move to the pool with a good book and some friends and some adult beverages. Finally, I’d end the day in the evening with a fun dinner with that group. 

If you had a perfect location for this to occur for your vacation, what’s the location?

Every year I kind of do what I just described with my best friends from college. We do an annual summer get together usually for four or five days, and it’s always a highlight of the year. The friends you make at a residential small liberal arts college are the best. Even for me, 30 plus years of friendship is a really important part of my life. 

Is there a particular dish that you make very well and how did you learn to make it?

I make a delicious pasta salad. I learned to make it by getting the recipe from a restaurant in my hometown when they closed down. When they were closing they were willing to give me the recipe. It’s got radicchio, arugula, oil, vinegar, tomatoes, and angel hair pasta. 

Cooking or baking?

Cooking. You can be more creative. Whereas baking is math, it’s very tough, you have to be exact. I feel as if you can be a little more innovative, a little more creative, a little more spontaneous when it comes to cooking. 

If somebody visited your hometown, where would you take them? What would you show them?

I’m from South Orange, New Jersey, which is about 35 minutes from Manhattan. I would show them my childhood home, which my parents moved out ten years ago, but they still live in South Orange. I would show them my old elementary and middle school, my favorite pizza place, the park where I went sledding. It’s a small town, technically it’s called a village. 

Which season is your favorite?

Oh, summer. I’m a summer person. I’ve always loved the summer. 

What’s your favorite TV show?

Oh, gosh. Okay I’m going to name a couple: Mad Men, Succession, Scandal. I love TV. Oh! And The Americans. Although, right now I’m loving Abbott Elementary.

If the world could only know one thing about you, what would it be?

Oh my gosh, that’s a hard question. So you know, as a scholar, I primarily study and write about nonprofit organizations and the role that nonprofits play in society, and how law supports or inhibits the work of nonprofit organizations. So, I’d probably say my passion for the nonprofit sector, philanthropy, and the ability for us as a society to work together through voluntary organizations to make change. 

What’s something that you want to do that you haven’t yet tried? 

Well, it’s not quite the same as trying, but while I was able to see Taylor Swift this summer, I did not catch the Beyoncé concert. 

Where did you see Taylor Swift?

In Minneapolis. So, it was my last weekend in Minneapolis before we moved here. It was also my birthday weekend, so we went to see Taylor.

Do you have a favorite song that was performed?

Probably “My Tears Ricochet.” I think that performance was really powerful. The concert was just so good. “The Man” was also great. OH! “Tolerate It.”

The way they did the set was very cool. They had a long table and a fight between the couple…I just thought it was really impressive. But if I could only choose one song, it would be “My Tears Ricochet.” I love the song, but it was also just a really powerful moment. Although “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) was really great, too. 

Jon went three times to see The Eras Tour, I only went once. He saw it in Arlington, Nashville, and we went together in Minneapolis. 

If you could visit any location in the world, where would you go?

Australia, partially the Austrian Open. As mentioned, I’m a tennis fan. So I would love to go to Australia and go to the Australian Open.  

So there are four Grand Slam tournaments, and they call that one the “Happy Slam.” It’s supposed to just be a lot of fun.

What’s your favorite thing about Maine?

I’m still learning Maine. It’s been a little more than six months, and to be honest, much of it has been focused on Bates. I have not fully had time to explore Maine, but I’m thrilled to be here. I love the variety, and the fact that we have lots of communities. I’m excited to go to Bar Harbor and Acadia, but I really haven’t had the chance to do that yet. 

What’s your favorite thing to do in Maine?

So far, it’s trying new restaurants, Jon and I are trying to find the places that we love. We are basically trying to eat our way through Maine.

Do you have a favorite candy?

I’m not really a candy person, although I do have a candy dish – help yourself – but, I love a chocolate chip cookie. So, not candy, but if I’m going to use my calories it’s going to be for a cookie or a piece of cake.

What kind of cake?

Oh, like a lemon or a strawberry cake. Generally vanilla cake with a berry kind of frosting or filling.

So this question was already answered earlier, but I’ll ask it again: coffee or tea?

Tea all the way! Team tea!

What was your favorite subject in grade school?


Mountains or beaches?

Oh, beaches.

What is your favorite Commons meal?

Pad Thai. Vegan Pad Thai.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Kothari, Digital Editor
Hannah is a sophomore from Houston, Texas, majoring in Politics. When she isn’t completing an infinite amount of reading for her classes, she enjoys sneaking off to nearby mountains to hike and ski, snapping pictures of Maine’s natural beauty, and working on her newfound hobby of crochet. If you haven’t heard from her in a few hours, chances are she’s on the slopes of Sugarloaf Mountain. Previously, Hannah wrote for five magazine publications in her hometown of Houston. Her love for journalism was born in 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and her time at The Bates Student has continued to cultivate her passion for the art.

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    HelenMar 19, 2024 at 1:34 PM

    I enjoyed the article. Getting to know the President of the college was good. I feel more connected to Bates. It gives the school a warm connected feeling. My granddaughter is in good hands.