The Bates community will gather on May 4 to celebrate something even rarer than a solar eclipse: the inauguration of a new president.

Garry W. Jenkins, who began his tenure as the ninth president of Bates College on July 1, 2023, will be formally installed as president on Saturday, May 4, 2024. The installation ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m in the Margaret Hopkins Merrill Gymnasium. 

It’s quintessential Bates as the college community shows the power of love in supporting students and their academic achievements at Mount David Summit.

Friday, April 5, 2024 in Pettengill Hall.
President Garry W. Jenkins talks with Nina Greeley ’24 of Scarborough, Maine, about her senior thesis biological chemistry research during the annual Mount David Summit on April 5, 2024. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Jenkins was unanimously elected president by the Bates College Board of Trustees in February 2023. Initially scheduled for last fall, the inauguration was postponed in the wake of the Oct. 25, 2023, tragedy in Lewiston.

Here are a few questions and answers about the installation ceremony, college inaugurations in general, and Bates President Jenkins:

How can I watch the ceremony?

The ceremony can be viewed on the Bates website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube starting at 10:30 a.m.

For the event, Margaret Hopkins Merrill Gymnasium has been elegantly transformed for the event with evocative lighting, video screens, and a sleek, multilevel stage, above which will hang the official college seal.

How long is the event?

Approximately 90-minutes.

Where can I learn more about President Jenkins?

Jenkins is a nationally respected authority on nonprofit organizations, corporate governance, lawyers and leadership development, and higher education, and came to Bates from the University of Minnesota Law School, where he was dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law. 

He received a bachelor’s degree with honors from Haverford College, a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a juris doctorate, cum laude, from Harvard Law School.

Here are a few Bates News stories featuring President Jenkins, starting with his appointment in February through to his welcome to the Class of 2027 at Opening Convocation.

The Bates community meets President-Elect Garry Jenkins at Alumni Gymnasium on March 7, 2022. President Clayton Spencer, Board of Trustees John Gillespie, Trustee and co-chair of the presidential search Committee Andrea Bueschel and Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees Jean Wilson, and John Lee, Jenkins’ husband, accompany Jenkins to Alumni Gym, departing from Lane Hall.
Students begin to take notice as President-elect Jenkins, following Andrea Bueschel ’90 (left), enters Alumni Gymnasium for a welcome event on March 7, 2023, during his first visit to campus as president-elect. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
How is a Bates inauguration rarer than an eclipse?

There have been eight inaugurations since Bates was founded in 1855 as the Maine State Seminary. In terms of total eclipses visible in the U.S., there have been around a dozen (various sources offer different numbers) since the mid-1800s.

Bates has had nine presidents and eight inaugurations. What’s with that?

The college’s first president, Oren Cheney, did not have an inauguration — but he did almost everything else. Cheney created Bates from scratch, first as a seminary (like a high school) that opened its doors in 1857, and then working to transform the school into a college by 1864. He then served as its president for another 30 years, until 1894.

Bates founder Oren Cheney also had a major role in the founding of Storer College, in 1867.
Oren Cheney founded Bates as Maine State Seminary in 1855, transforming the school into a college by 1864 and serving as its first president for another 30 years, until 1894. (Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library)

As Cheney turned the presidency over to George Colby Chase on Sept. 22, 1894, he said, “There is not a tree, or building, or spot on this campus but seems a part of myself.”

What is the purpose of an inauguration?

The inauguration offers the college a formal and ceremonial opportunity to welcome the new president.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “inauguration” comes from one meaning of the Latin word inaugurare, which means an important action or undertaking (such as a new president) that would be consecrated by augury — checking of signs and omens, and by taking auspices, which means to interpret the flights of birds. 

By the 1500s, the word “inauguration” had the meaning “to induct into office with suitable ceremonies.”

President Theodore Roosevelt takes the oath of office at his inauguration on March 4, 1905, on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division / Library of Congress)
What is the purpose of various people offering greetings to President Jenkins during the ceremony?

As a tradition of installation ceremonies, greetings offer a chance for representatives within the college community, the Lewiston-Auburn community, and higher education to welcome, raise their voice in support of a new leader, and display connection, solidarity, and community.

These are the people who will offer greetings:

  • From Bates students: Rebecca Anderson ’24 of Boone, N.C., and Dhruv Chandra ’25 of Kolkata, India, who are co-presidents of Bates College Student Government
  • From Bates faculty: Mary T. Rice-DeFosse, Professor of French and Francophone Studies
  • From Bates staff: James L. Reese, Associate Dean for International Student Programs
  • From Bates alumni: Kevin Moore ’93, President of the Alumni Association
  • From the Lewiston and Auburn community: Carl Sheline, Mayor of the City of Lewiston, and Jeff Harmon, Mayor of the City of Auburn
  • From the academy: Wendy E. Raymond, President and Professor of Biology, Haverford College
What is the difference between an inauguration and an installation?

“Inauguration” usually refers to the entire suite of ceremonial events celebrating the new president’s investiture. The “installation” (or “investiture”) usually refers to the specific ceremony, in this case the one beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, 2024.

What will President Jenkins’ inaugural address focus on?

For that, we welcome you to join the livestream — or watch it afterward — to hear the message in his own words.

What is the academic procession during the installation ceremony?

The Bates faculty, trustees, and college leaders march in the procession, all wearing academic regalia — caps and gowns, with hoods whose colors reflect academic institutional affiliation. 

Having assembled at Commons, the academic procession will be led to Merrill by a musical ensemble, Raging Brass, playing a traditional New Orleans brass band march.

The procession is similar to the one at a Bates Commencement: time-honored, upbeat, and colorful, except bigger, thanks to the many delegates who will travel to Bates to support the new president, and in a slightly different order.

What is the order of the inauguration procession?

Like Commencement, the inauguration procession is led by the faculty mace bearer and senior member of the Bates faculty, Professor of French and Francophone Studies Mary Rice-DeFosse.

Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College
Mace bearer Professor of French and Francophone Studies Mary Rice-DeFosse (left) leads President Jenkins and the rest of the academic procession at Opening Convocation on Sept. 5, 2023, including Student Government co-presidents Rebecca Anderson ‘24 (center) of Boone, N.C., and Dhruv Chandra ‘25 (in red tie) of Kolkata, India. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

But unlike Commencement, where the president is at the front of the procession with the mace bearer, he will be at the end of the inaugural procession and the final person to enter Merrill Gym. Before President Jenkins arrives, these members of the procession will enter the gymnasium in this order:

  • Mace Bearer
  • Board of Trustees
  • Former Trustees
  • Deans and Vice Presidents
  • Faculty Marshals
  • Faculty Members
  • Academic Delegates
  • Student Delegates
  • Bates Presidents Emeriti
  • Greeters and Presenters of Symbols of Office
  • Chair of the Bates Board of Trustees
  • President Jenkins
Is there significance to the musical selections by the Bates Orchestra and Maine Music Society Chorale?

The two performances highlight the contributions to American music by William Grant Still (1895–1978), known as the dean of African American composers and the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Bates in 1954.

William Grant Still (left) poses with fellow honorary degree recipients at Commencement on June 13, 1954. With Still are, from left, Richard Bowditch, then president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Millicent McIntosh, then president of Barnard College; Bates President Charles Phillips; Sherman Adams, one-time chief of staff to President Dwight Eisenhower and governor of New Hampshire; longtime educator Clarence Quimby, Bates Class of 1910, then headmaster of Cushing Academy; and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist John Marquand. (Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library)

The Bates College Orchestra will perform Still’s Festive Overture (1944). The Maine Music Society Chorale will perform “I Dream a World” with music by André J. Thomas and words drawn from the poem “I Dream a World” by Langston Hughes.

Hughes originally wrote “I Dream a World” as the libretto for William Grant Still’s opera Troubled Island. In later years, Hughes often incorporated a reading of “I Dream a World” into his public appearances, reflecting his vision and activism for social justice.

The installation ceremony features works by composer William Grant Still, known as the dean of African American composers. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection)
Who will introduce President Jenkins?

Jenkins will be formally introduced by Joan T.A. Gabel, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh. She worked with Jenkins when she was president of the University of Minnesota and he was dean of the Minnesota Law School.

Joan T.A. Gabel, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, will offer the formal introduction to President Jenkins. (University of Pittsburgh)
What symbols of the office are presented to President Jenkins during his installation?

Presiding over the installation will be Gregory Ehret ’91, chair of the Bates College Board of Trustees, who will guide the presentation of three symbols of office to Jenkins.

Presidential Medallion: Representing the authority vested in the president by the Bates College Board of Trustees, presented by Associate Professor of Mathematics Katy Ott and Sabeeh Khan ’24, an economics major from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Record Book: Containing the minutes of the corporation’s first meeting, on April 5, 1855, symbolizing the longevity and historical legacy of Bates College, presented by Andrea Conklin Bueschel ’90, a Bates trustee. (As a Bates senior in 1990, she offered student greetings to President Donald Harward, the college’s sixth president, at his installation.)

Keys of the Office: Representing the passing-down of authority through the college’s presidential lineage, presented by Susan Nattress, who manages the Bates electronic access system.

Bates memorabilia photographed in the case to the entrance of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives on Aug. 3, 2023. Two skeleton keys presented by Physical Plant to Elaine Tuttle Hansen at her 2002 Inauguration as President.
These skeleton keys, a symbol of authority passed from president to president, will be presented to President Jenkins during his installation as Bates’ ninth president on May 4, 2024. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)
What are “delegates”?

Delegates officially represent colleges, universities, or other learned organizations at a college inauguration.

Sometimes they are the presidents of the institutions, but can have other affiliations such as being a graduate or a professor. And they can have connections to Bates as well. For example:

  • Valerie Smith, Bates ’75, is representing Swarthmore College, where she is president.
  • Marge McCormick Davis, Bates ’76, is representing Vanderbilt University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English.
  • Clarisa Pérez-Armendáriz, a Bates associate professor of politics, is representing Pomona College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree.
  • Jon Lee, who is Garry Jenkins’ husband, is representing the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Lee earned bachelor’s and law degrees.
Delegates to a college inauguration represent their institutions, just as state delegates to a political convention represent their candidate, such as these delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J., on Aug. 26, 1964. (Photograph by Warren K. Leffler or Thomas J. O’Halloran, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division)

They are called “delegates” because they represent and personify the institutions they represent, having been appointed and delegated certain authority and responsibility vested in them by their institutions.

How many delegates will be at President Jenkins’ installation ceremony?

From invitations extended by Bates, 61 institutions have appointed delegates for the Jenkins inauguration. They represent institutions as far away as the California Institute of Technology (2,620 miles) and as close by as Bowdoin, about 18 miles.

How many presidents has Bates had?

Bates has had nine presidents

  • Oren Burbank Cheney, 1864 (when Bates became a college) to 1894
  • George Colby Chase, 1894–1919
  • Clifton Daggett Gray, 1920–1944
  • Charles Franklin Phillips, 1944–1966
  • Thomas Hedley Reynolds, 1967–1989
  • Donald West Harward, 1989–2002
  • Elaine Tuttle Hansen, 2002–2011
  • Ava Clayton Spencer, 2012–2023
  • Garry William Jenkins, 2023–
On May 4, 2024, Garry W. Jenkins (right) will be installed as the college’s ninth leader. Founder Oren Cheney was the first, holding the position from 1864 to 1894. (Phyllis Graber Jensen / Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library)
Where did Bates hold installation ceremonies before Merrill Gymnasium was built?

Hathorn Hall, Gomes Chapel, and Alumni Gym have all been sites of past presidential installation ceremonies.

How does the ceremony conclude?

The ceremony concludes with a benediction by the Rev. Brittany Longsdorf, the college’s multifaith chaplain, and the recessional, during which the platform party and other participants depart the gymnasium to the tune of “Fascinating Rhythm” performed by the Bates College Jazz Band.