The Bates College Board of Trustees has unanimously elected Garry W. Jenkins, currently dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School, to become president of Bates, effective July 1, 2023.
A nationally respected legal scholar, proven higher education leader, and a longtime champion of the liberal arts, Jenkins has led the Minnesota Law School since 2016.
Livestream: Remarks by President-elect Garry Jenkins on March 7
Garry W. Jenkins’ first remarks as the college’s president-elect, to be delivered during a gathering in Alumni Gymnasium, will be livestreamed on the Bates News website and on the Bates Facebook page starting at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7.
Jenkins will be Bates’ ninth president since its 1855 founding and its first Black president. He will succeed Clayton Spencer, who has served as Bates’ president since July 2012. Jenkins’ election took place during a special meeting of the Board of Trustees on Monday, Feb. 27.
In his announcement to the Bates community, John Gillespie ’80, chair of the Bates Board of Trustees, said, “Garry is a brilliant and accomplished institutional leader who is steeped in the power and promise of the liberal arts. A 1992 graduate of Haverford College, he has served on the Board of Managers of his alma mater since 2009, including serving as vice chair since 2015.”
He added, “Throughout our time with him, he has spoken compellingly about what draws him to Bates: the highly personal and rigorous educational experience, continuing to expand access and remove barriers to this experience, close faculty and student engagement, and the culture of collaboration. He profoundly understands and embodies Bates’ mission.”
“Simply put, everything about Bates and its culture resonates with me.”Garry Jenkins, president-elect of Bates College
Jenkins said, “I am overjoyed to join the Bates community as the college’s next president. Bates is a remarkable institution that is exceptionally well-positioned for the future. Even among the nation’s very best liberal arts colleges, Bates stands out for its illustrious history, academic excellence, vibrant and supportive community, innovative spirit, authentic relationship with its hometown, and the talent and dedication of its people. Simply put, everything about Bates and its culture resonates with me.”
He added, “We are at a pivotal moment for American society and higher education. The world urgently needs leaders who have been challenged, developed, and nurtured by Bates and a liberal arts education. I am excited about what our community will accomplish together in the years ahead.”
Jenkins’ election follows an international search that began in July with the board’s appointment of Bates trustees Andrea Conklin Bueschel ’90 and Gregory Ehret ’91 to serve as co-chairs of the search committee, whose membership was announced in September. The 19-member committee’s partner in the search has been Isaacson, Miller.
“I know I speak for all the members of the Presidential Search Committee when I say it has been an honor to have served Bates in this critical project,” said Ehret, who will succeed Gillespie as chair of the Board of Trustees on July 1. “We became a team during the process and took seriously the responsibility to identify a worthy successor to President Spencer. The committee’s unanimous and enthusiastic recommendation of Garry Jenkins was a tremendous outcome.”
Bueschel said, “Throughout the search process, it was rewarding and illuminating for the committee to see Garry’s genuine affinity for Bates grow as he learned more about the college and the alignment between Bates’ values and his own. As a candidate, he energized the committee — with intellect, charisma, and sincerity that will serve Bates well both on campus and in the world.”
As dean of the Minnesota Law School, Jenkins led the work to eliminate a budget deficit; deepen the school’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion; and expand and improve the demographic and academic profiles of its admitted students, with the 2022 entering class achieving the highest academic credentials in the school’s 134-year history.
His leadership has helped to strengthen the school’s already highly regarded experiential learning programs and innovative legal clinics, such as racial justice law and civil rights appellate clinics, that offer new ways for students to connect with clients and communities while building practical lawyering skills to support their future careers.
“Garry cares deeply about the communities he serves and is a proven and powerful force in amplifying diversity, equity, and inclusion across our campus and beyond.”Joan T.A. Gabel, president of the University of Minnesota
Jenkins led the law school to a successful conclusion in 2021 of a record-setting fundraising campaign that ultimately raised more than $106 million (surpassing its $80 million goal) for scholarships, professorships and faculty research, student support and fellowships, clinical programs and experiential learning, leadership programming, and the annual fund. During Jenkins’ tenure as dean, the University of Minnesota Law School endowment nearly doubled.
Joan T.A. Gabel, president of the University of Minnesota, said, “Whether creating new programs to strengthen the law school’s global reputation and standing, or artfully navigating the historic times we all experienced, Garry has been an invaluable partner, and I have leaned on his innovation, creativity, and collaborative leadership, including in his roles as vice chair and chair of our Deans Council. Garry cares deeply about the communities he serves and is a proven and powerful force in amplifying diversity, equity, and inclusion across our campus and beyond.”
Jenkins has continued to teach while serving as dean of the law school. In fall 2020, he co-taught a course titled “George Floyd’s Minneapolis: Past, Present, and Moving Forward,” which examined the historical, socio-political, and legal contexts and implications of the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd through expert guests on racial inequity in the criminal legal system, policing reform, economic inequality, and the school-to-prison-pipeline.
Prior to joining the Minnesota Law School as its 11th dean, Jenkins was a professor of law at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law for 12 years, including eight years as associate dean for academic affairs. In 2014, he was named the school’s John C. Elam / Vorys Sater Professor of Law.
“As a leader, he makes sure that everyone is heard. He works toward consensus, and once he acts he is confident and clear in the direction that needs to be taken.”Donald B. Tobin, former dean of the Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
As an associate dean at the Moritz College of Law, he was a key member of an entrepreneurial team that guided the school as it faced an increasingly challenged environment for law schools and public higher education, including leading the law school in implementing significant curricular reform.
Jenkins co-founded and directed the innovative Program on Law and Leadership at Moritz, considered one of the first such programs at a U.S. law school, to teach law students skills and aspects of leadership, such as group dynamics and how to move issues forward, that had not been part of the traditional law school curriculum.
“Garry Jenkins is a fabulous leader who will bring energy, creativity and dedication to this important mission,” said Donald B. Tobin, a longtime friend and former Moritz colleague with whom Jenkins developed the law and leadership program, and now professor of law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, where he served as dean from 2014 to 2022.
“Garry is extremely purposeful and thoughtful about everything he does, and as a leader, he makes sure that everyone is heard,” Tobin added. “He works toward consensus, and once he acts he is confident and clear in the direction that needs to be taken. Garry cares passionately about the people and institutions that he is a part of and the important role small liberal arts colleges play in creating the next generation of great leaders.”
At Moritz, she found in Jenkins a professor and mentor who “reminded me of my favorite Bates professors,” recalling how “professors and experiences push your mindset so much. Garry did just that.”Melissa Baker Linville ’07
In 2007, Melissa Baker Linville graduated from Bates with a sociology degree and an idea to pursue public interest law. At Moritz, she found in Jenkins a professor and mentor who “reminded me of my favorite Bates professors,” recalling how “professors and experiences push your mindset so much. Garry did just that.”
Now director of development for the Ohio State Legal Services Association, Linville says that Jenkins, especially through his leadership of the Program on Law and Leadership, helped his students think expansively about future opportunities as lawyers. “He was always keyed into helping us think on a broad and holistic scale, to critically and thoughtfully look at our education, our experiences, our internships — the whole experience of being a law student.” Asked to describe Jenkins in one word, Linville paused for several seconds. “I’m trying to think of a word that’s good enough,” she said with a laugh.
A Life in the Liberal Arts
Jenkins was raised in northern New Jersey by his mother, a retired career high school teacher, and his father, a retired computer programmer who taught part time at a local community college. He earned a B.A. from Haverford College in 1992, majoring in political science and being named a Charles A. Dana Scholar.
He has served his alma mater in a variety of ways since graduation, including as a member of the college’s Board of Managers since 2009 and its vice chair since 2015. He earned a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a J.D. from the Harvard Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Harvard Civil Rights–Civil Liberties Law Review.
“On top of his outstanding professional achievements in higher education, his intellect, empathy, wisdom, and good judgment add to the quality of every conversation and decision he is in.”Wendy E. Raymond, president of Haverford College
As vice chair of the Haverford board, he has helped the college engage in a fundamental, focused, and ultimately successful effort to renew its commitment to core principles in high-profile areas, including revamping its financial aid policy, reaffirming its solidarity with marginalized groups, and taking an active role in confronting public policy issues affecting the college’s mission.
The board’s efforts earned a John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges in 2019, recognizing “exceptional leadership and initiative.”
Wendy E. Raymond, president of Haverford College, said, “Garry’s leadership trajectory reveals the intellectual and lived foundations he gained as a student of the liberal arts at Haverford College, including inclusive excellence, the synergies of scholarship and teaching, and the creative outcomes of collaborative engagement toward building consensus. On top of his outstanding professional achievements in higher education, his intellect, empathy, wisdom, and good judgment add to the quality of every conversation and decision he is in. Bates’ and Garry’s values align.”
Leader and Scholar
After earning a law degree, Jenkins was a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Pittsburgh and an attorney with the New York City–based law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where he counseled public charities and private foundations, formed and advised private investment funds, and negotiated mergers and acquisitions. Prior to entering higher education, Jenkins was chief operating officer and general counsel of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, whose goal is the betterment of humanity worldwide, focusing on health and education.
Jenkins is both a higher education leader and a scholar of leadership and nonprofit organizations whose articles have been published in leading law reviews and interdisciplinary journals. He has received professional recognition in the subfields of nonprofit law, global justice, and corporate law. His recent scholarship includes a chapter in the book Beyond Imagination? The January 6 Insurrection (2022), in which 14 deans of leading U.S. law schools examine the day’s events and offer ideas about healing and a recommitment to the rule of law and the Constitution. In addition, he has a chapter in the forthcoming book Building an Antiracist Law School, Legal Academy, and Legal Profession.
A sought-after expert on a variety of higher education issues, Jenkins has made nearly two dozen presentations to national professional organizations and other groups over the last five years, addressing topics including leadership development for lawyers; anti-racism and racial justice in the law school curricula; and hate speech and the First Amendment on college campuses.
He earned a Diversity and Inclusion Award from Minnesota Lawyer in 2022, was elected to the American Law Institute in 2019, and is a fellow of the American Bar Association. He was named to the Lawyers of Color “Power List” in 2020 and 2023.
Jenkins is a board member of Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law; the Law School Admission Council; the National Women’s Law Center; and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He also chairs the deans’ steering committee of the Association of American Law Schools. By gubernatorial appointment, he serves as one of Minnesota’s commissioners to the Uniform Law Commission. He is a past board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
Jenkins is married to Jon J. Lee, a law professor.
The Bates President
The Bates College president is charged with setting a vision and strategy to lead the institution forward, enhancing academic excellence, supervising and managing all institutional affairs, developing and maintaining relationships with a wide array of constituents in the college community and beyond, and representing the institution externally as chief ambassador and fundraiser.
About Bates College
Located in Lewiston, Maine, Bates is internationally recognized as a leading college of the liberal arts, attracting a campus enrollment of 1,800 students from across the U.S. and around the world. Since 1855, Bates has been dedicated to educating the whole person through creative and rigorous scholarship in a collaborative residential community. Committed to opportunity and excellence, Bates has always admitted students without regard to gender, race, religion, or national origin. Cultivating intellectual discovery and informed civic action, Bates prepares leaders sustained by a love of learning and zeal for responsible stewardship of the wider world.