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

President Jenkins’ Inaugural Address Inspires Students to “Rise Together”

Carly Philpott
President Jenkins gives a speech at his inauguration.

Apple cider. I remember my friends and I turning the bottles in our hands as we read aloud “Inauguration of Garry Jenkins, 2024”. It was amidst the lockdown following the tragic shooting of Oct. 25, and we chuckled at the sordid irony of the reuse of these goods to provide food and drink to students who were sheltering during the lockdown. It made things, at least for a moment, a bit more bright and happy; good cider, shared with friends. 

I was reminded of this moment again this weekend, with lemonade, with a similar label on them. The lemonade (while also delicious) brought me back to the days leading up to President Jenkins’ original inauguration. It reminded me of how quickly, and without question, Bates and President Jenkins put the inauguration aside to help comfort, support and provide for its community in the wake of tragedy. It reminded me how President Jenkins showed generosity and compassion. 

In that walk over to commons during lockdown, President Jenkins, along with his husband Jon greeted students crossing the quad. Many of them were scared, grieving, or anxious. However, President Jenkins’ warmth and compassionate greetings to all students as they passed by showed us all that we were not alone in this moment.

President Jenkins’ inaugural address was titled “Rising Together”, and in that moment where many students felt low, it was the goodness of the Bates community that brought us all up out of that dark time. President Jenkins rose to the occasion to be the leader that Bates College needed at this moment. 

We saw President Jenkins inspire the student body once again at his inauguration: with the same kindness, warmth and humility. A leader who is congruent in personality in both good times and bad is hard to come by. This was bolstered by the image presented by his friends and colleagues. I particularly remember President Wendy E. Raymonds quote from one of your mutual friends who tried to “out-listen Garry,” but realized “it could not be done.” 

I, as well as many other students, was heartened to hear this point be resounded again and again about President Jenkins. This quality of active listening that President Jenkins imparted as a “cornerstone” of his vision for Bates is something I feel the student body seeks in their leadership now more than ever. 

I found myself deeply connecting with President Jenkins during his address to the community, as I am sure many other students did as well. Coming from a family who worked incredibly hard to send me to Bates, I shared President Jenkins’ tears of pride and joy as he spoke about his parents. 

In his inaugural address, President Jenkins identifies the challenges the school has faced since his installation last summer: a mass shooting, a litany of public safety incidents occurring on our campus and dialogue concerning the ongoing war in Gaza. These qualities of compassion, open mindedness, and transparency are not just important for students to maintain, but also must be modeled by our leadership. 

At every turn Jenkins has led the school with “humility and transparency” as he said in his address. It was that transparency during the lockdown that helped students to feel secure, heard and connected in the wake of an act of senseless violence. Moreover, Jenkins spoke of a larger scale problem with the discrediting of liberal arts education: “Higher education is under attack” he spoke, “vulnerable to government interference, and the very value of a college degree is being questioned in some quarters.” 

Throughout this past year, Jenkins has celebrated with the Bates community in so many ways: from state championships, to the Mt. David Summit, President Jenkins has made it a goal in his first year with Bates to ensure that he connects with a diversity of students in their celebrations.

As a member of The Student, I still remember reading President Jenkins’ open letter regarding the use of Blind Tiger on our campus. I was empowered that you sought to take aim at a problematic aspect of the student experience at Bates, and spoke openly and eloquently about how we as a community are above bullying, harassment and bigotry. As you said best, “We have a problem right now. But it is one that is well within our power to fix.” 

Another cornerstone President Jenkins speaks on is the wellbeing of the student body, something that his open letter to The Student sought to accomplish. To be a student of the liberal arts at Bates means to be well in a variety of ways: academically, socially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. In his first year, President Jenkins has made it a distinct goal to support students in all of these endeavors – you need only look as far as his Instagram account to see that President Jenkins spends much of his time engaging with Bates from every angle.

President Jenkins is ultimately a success story of the liberal arts education: intelligent and thoughtful; compassionate and worldly; devoted and curious. These are qualities that appear not only in his professional career, but in interpersonal relationships as well. The liberal arts make us better humans. Having a President who not only realizes that, but lives it, is what makes Bates so special.

As he leads our school, we at The Student wish President Jenkins the absolute best, and thank him immensely for the love he has already poured into our school. We are beyond excited and grateful for him becoming a member of our community, and hope he continues to lift up students as he has already done. 

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About the Contributor
Max Olson
Max Olson, Staff Writer
Max is a Junior from Beverly MA. He is a double major in English and Philosophy. In his free time, you can find Max around the table with his friends at the Discordians Board Game Club or accruing overdraft fees of movies at the library.
Max has been writing for The Student since freshman year, covering primarily Arts and Leisure. He is also an officer of the Students with Disabilities Club and a frequent of the Bates Robinson Players.

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