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

Garry Jenkins Inaugurated as Ninth President of Bates College

Carly Philpott
Jenkins receives his presidential medallion at the inauguration on Saturday.

With much pomp and circumstance, Bates finally inaugurated Garry Jenkins as its ninth president in a well-anticipated ceremony on May 4.

Taking the stage in front of his colleagues and a field of people in Merrill Gymnasium, Jenkins gave his uplifting inaugural speech, titled “Rising Together.”

“I chose Rising Together as the theme of this address, because I believe deeply in the power of collaboration and teamwork,” Jenkins told his audience. “Because I believe that when people and institutions join forces, opportunities multiply. Because I believe that win-wins are better and more lasting than just wins.”

Jenkins touched on many of the ways in which he hopes to improve Bates in his time at the college, including strengthening it fiscally. Bates has recently faced budgetary challenges, leading to cuts in club funding.

Jenkins also mentioned his intention to broaden resources available for low-income students, making Bates a more inclusive place.

“We need to better understand the hidden costs of being a student, and think about addressing barriers to opportunity that are not necessarily covered by tuition,” he said. “Things like technology needs, summer research, funded internship opportunities, graduate school test prep, fees, travel, clothing, and funding for job interviews and conferences and so on.”

Seated in the front row among professors and trustees and beside Maine Governor Janet Mills, Jenkins’ husband, parents, and brother were in attendance. Jenkins visibly teared up as he thanked his parents for their impact on his early life, describing the way they instilled in him “a belief in the power of education, the importance of thinking for yourself, and the value of building and supporting community around you,” he said, despite them having to work multiple jobs to attain education for their two sons.

“They worked long hours, and they sacrificed to provide the two of us with every opportunity, especially when it came to education,” Jenkins said. “This wouldn’t be possible without them.”

The inauguration was previously scheduled for Oct. 27, 2023, before a mass shooting rocked Lewiston on Oct. 25 and the ceremony was indefinitely postponed. Jenkins spoke to this tragedy and the aftermath, calling attention to the many first responders on scene at the shootings, including three students with Bates EMS.

“There was tragedy in the events of late October,” he said. “But there was also grace and beauty in the response. I know this community will hold both of these truths as we continue to move forward into the future…stronger, bolder, and more resolute.”

Many student attendees shared much of Jenkins’ contagious enthusiasm and optimism.

“I thought it was very inspiring, very moving,” Claudia Klingbeil ‘26 said after Jenkins’ speech. “It just kind of hit me how monumental of a moment it was, especially since he’s only the ninth president. And I think that just really speaks to Bates and how special the place is.”

Molly Allison ‘26 agreed, speaking to the historic importance of Jenkins’ inauguration. 

“I thought it was really special when he talked about being the first black president of Bates and the first openly gay president,” Allison said.

Jenkins highlighted the challenges that Bates is facing and will continue to face in upcoming years, reminding the crowd “every era in Bates history has brought particular challenges.” 

“Today we all read the same headlines. We know the world is in conflict, in need. Violence, extremism, insularity, hateful rhetoric are all to present. Higher education is under attack, vulnerable to government interference,” he said. “The very value of a college degree is questioned in some quarters. The challenges won’t stop coming. History teaches us that. But it also teaches us that Bates is capable of addressing the challenges of the moment.”

And overall, Jenkins’ message was one of hope, gratitude, and a new era for Bates. 

“I am so honored to accept the responsibility of leading Bates College,” he finished. “I do so with humility and transparency, with tenacity and enthusiasm. And of course, with ardor and devotion.”

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About the Contributor
Carly Philpott
Carly Philpott, Assistant News Editor
Carly is a first-year from Centennial, Colo. The Student was a major reason she chose Bates after a longtime love for journalism. You can find Carly at the Bates Historical Society or taking photos of ducks on the Puddle for the Bates Communications Office. She also enjoys quality time with her pet toads, pictured.

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    steve doshMay 6, 2024 at 10:50 AM

    . ..📹. . .Great article . .. . 🌲. It was a very poignant c e r e m o n y … 🎶. /s, the Alum • . posted ≠ 10:49am ME time ≠ …🎧. Monday, May 6th 2024 . 🗿. 👣 . Short Term .🐾.. • ..