LEWISTON — Standing at what he called “the heart of this beautiful campus” on the steps of Coram Library on the Historic Quad at Bates College, the school’s new president offered “a huge, hearty, special welcome” Tuesday to the 509 members of the Class of 2027.

During the annual convocation, Garry Jenkins, who took the helm of the college in July, told the first-year class that “when you come back to this very site to receive your diploma” in four years, “one of the things most of you will say is that during your years at Bates, you will have learned that you are capable of far more than you had before thought possible.”

On a warm, sunny day when only a few of the smallest trees had begun to show their autumnal colors, the college’s newest students, many of them in shorts and T-shirts, followed in a haphazard line a procession of faculty wearing an array of gowns to take seats in front of the old library.

Jenkins, who will be formally invested as president next month, took the podium first.

“I’m Garry Jenkins,” he told the assembled crowd. “My pronouns are he/him. And I’m the new president at Bates.”

He said he hoped students coming to Lewiston for the first time would receive the same “warm, open, enthusiastic welcomes” that he’s received.


“Celebrate this moment,” junior Dhruv Chandra, co-president of the student body, told the new class. “Your arrival at this starting line is a testament to your dedication, resilience and hard work.”

“While the full significance of this moment might become more evident over time, there’s a certain magic in grounding yourself here and now,” Chandra said.

The other co-president, senior Rebecca Anderson, said first-year students “will likely have moments of doubt, high stress, homesickness and adjustment” in the months ahead.

But, she said, “Hopefully these times will be coupled with joy, excitement, curiosity and freedom. We hope each of you will find a home here.”

Jenkins said the newcomers will be “swimming in the new” and should embrace it.

He urged them to be learners and leaders, to contribute to the Bates community and identify unmet needs “on our campus or in Lewiston or Auburn.”


“Find ways to be part of the solution,” Jenkins told the students. “There’s no us versus them at Bates. There’s only us.”

Bates officials said the new class was selected from among 8,937 applications, the highest number the college has ever received. Forty-one of them hailed from Maine, including students from Wales, Norway and Lewiston.

Slightly more than half the new class is male at a time when many elite colleges are seeing women dominate the rolls. International students, who come from 37 countries beyond the United States, make up 11% of the class while 12% are the first in their families to attend college.

Andrew Mountcastle, Bates College associate professor of biology, addresses the crowd Tuesday at the annual convocation in the quad on the Lewiston campus. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Andrew Mountcastle, associate professor of biology,  told all of them that scientists have come to realize that people can shape the “three-pound bundle of nerves between our ears” by putting their brains to work.

At Bates, he said, students will ask questions, construct arguments and both “critique and create” as they “learn how to learn.”

There will be fun and rewarding moments, Mountcastle said, as well as frustrating ones.


“Growing your brain is hard work,” he said.

Mountcastle said, though, that students “are not alone” because the college’s faculty and staff “are here, quite literally, for you” as he urged them to seek help anytime.

“Take advantage of the resources that you have here. You are not a bother to us. You are a joy,” he said.

“Every single one of you belongs here,” Mountcastle told students. “You are not only at Bates. You are Bates.”

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