First day of school: President Clayton Spencer

Bates President Clayton Spencer and James Reese, associate dean of students, shared a moment of deja vu Monday morning, July 2, as the eighth president of the college began her first week in office. The two were high school classmates.

More than four decades after meeting a kid named James Reese on her first day of eighth grade in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., schools, Clayton Spencer greeted her former classmate Monday morning en route to Lane Hall. That’s where Reese serves as longtime associate dean of students and Spencer began her first day as the eighth president of Bates College.

Spencer also greeted her new faculty and staff colleagues with a morning email. “I am thrilled to be here and very excited to be getting down to work – full-time and for real – on behalf of Bates,” she wrote. “I have spent enough time on campus to know what wonderful colleagues you will be, and I have a profound sense of optimism about what we will accomplish together over the next months and years.”

The new president’s optimism was echoed by Bates alumni, who voiced their pride in alma mater— and their excitement about her leadership — with a historic 55 percent participation in the 2011–12 Bates Fund, ten points beyond last year’s 45.2 percent. Bates now joins distinguished company with regard to alumni giving. In 2010-11, just nine national colleges and universities surpassed 50 percent participation.

Joining Spencer in the president’s office are two new members of the Bates team. Michael Hussey will serve as chief of staff and secretary to the Board of Trustees. A graduate of Middlebury, Hussey joins Bates from Harvard, where he has worked for 10 years, most recently as a senior project manager in the provost’s office and previously in the Harvard College Office of Admission and Financial Aid. John Baughman continues in his role as adviser to the president, while also teaching in the politics department, and Jessie Govindasamy, who will continue to serve as an administrative assistant.

Nancy Cable, who led Bates as interim president in 2011-12, rejoins the college’s leadership team in a vice presidential position.

While Spencer will be making many new friends in the coming weeks, it was nice to begin her day seeing a familiar face. “I knew Bates would be a great place for me, but crossing paths with James on my first morning made me feel right at home.”