A Bates landmark: The inauguration of A. Clayton Spencer as eighth president

Bates President A. Clayton Spencer

Bates will formally welcome its new president, A. Clayton Spencer, this week with events culminating in her inauguration the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 26, in Merrill Gymnasium.

The inauguration ceremony, which begins at 2:30 p.m., will be streamed live on the Bates website.  The college expects as many as 2,500 members of the Bates community and invited guests to attend.

Spencer was elected president by the college’s Board of Trustees in December 2011 and took office July 1.

The inauguration ceremony will begin with a colorful procession in academic regalia by Bates faculty members, administrative leaders, students, delegates and others, led by a bagpiper and macebearer from Bates’ New Commons building across Central Avenue into Merrill Gymnasium. The delegates (including a number of other college presidents) will represent more than 70 other colleges and universities as well as learned societies.

See the complete schedule of Inauguration Week events.

Running approximately an hour and a half, the ceremony will center around the formal installation of Spencer and the delivery of her inaugural address, Questions Worth Asking.

Spencer will be introduced by Drew Gilpin Faust, president of Harvard University, where Spencer was a key member of the leadership team for 15 years before accepting the presidency of Bates.

Michael W. Bonney ’80, chair of the Board of Trustees, will conduct the installation, which includes presentation of historical symbols of the office, some handcrafted, including the presidential collar, a record book from the college’s founding days and a set of keys.

Preliminaries to the central events include a welcome by Bonney, an invocation and various “Greetings to the President” — brief salutations delivered by representatives of the Bates student body, faculty, staff, alumni, the mayors of Bates’ hometown of Lewiston and its twin city Auburn, and the academic world.

Bates student instrumentalists and vocalists under the direction of members of the music faculty will present musical works throughout the program, including three composed for the occasion by members of the music faculty.

The inauguration ceremony itself will be preceded by two related major events and followed by one other:

• Thursday, Oct. 25, in a service beginning at 4:15 p.m., the Bates Chapel, which has existed under that name for exactly a century, will acquire a new name — The Peter J. Gomes Chapel.  A 1965 graduate of Bates who died last February at age 68, Gomes was widely known for his career as the longtime Pusey Minister in The Memorial Church at Harvard. The chapel’s new name honors his life and work, which advanced an array of values Bates also supports. Like the inauguration, the naming service, in the chapel, will be an event for the Bates community and invited guests only, but will also be streamed live on the college’s website.

Friday, Oct. 26, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, the college will present back-to-back panel discussions on The Engaged Liberal Arts: The World of Ideas and Ideas in the WorldTaking place in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, these discussions will examine how important ideas are born as well as how they get applied through both competition and collaboration.  Panelists will include President Faust along with other widely noted speakers. This event will be open to the public at no charge.

Saturday evening, Oct. 27, rapper/singer/songwriter Dev will present a special free concert exclusively for the Bates community. The concert concludes inauguration activities.

Two days of annual Homecoming events will also take place on campus Friday and Saturday, adding to an atmosphere of festivity and excitement.

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