Jenkins to give commencement address at SC college

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., who became the 12th President of Livingstone College in February 2006, has earned the reputation of a “Turn Around Artist,” because of his knack for rescuing institutions from the brink of disaster. The traits most associated with his rescue accomplishments are establishing financial stability, increasing student enrollment, and building and beautifying the physical plant. Under Jenkins’ tenure, Livingstone College now has a new residence hall, the first in 35 years, an Events and Hospitality Center, and a state-of-the art student union. Likewise, the college now offers degrees and certificates through a Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts Program, and, most importantly, its overall debt has been reduced by more than $10 million and its net assets have been increased by more than $14 million.
Before coming to Livingstone College, Jenkins was president of Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Fla. There he found an institution on the verge of financial collapse and in jeopardy of losing its accreditation, with only 300 students, several boarded-up or condemned buildings, and more than $10 million in delinquent debt. Jenkins increased the student enrollment at Edward Waters to more than 1,400 in six years, renovated every building on campus, acquired apartment complexes and land around the campus, restarted the football program that had been discontinued some 35 years earlier, and built the first new building, a gymnasium, in 40 years. That gym now bears his name.
Before accepting the top administrative post at Edwards Waters College, Jenkins was chancellor at Elizabeth City State University. When he became ECSU’s Chancellor in 1983, he became the school’s first alumnus to become chief executive officer since its founding in 1892, and the youngest chancellor among the 16 institutions of the University of North Carolina System. Jenkins, a 1965 alumnus, remained the youngest chancellor in the system for eight of his 13 years as CEO. As chancellor, Jenkins was responsible for increasing student enrollment to more than 2,000 for the first time in school history. Jenkins was also responsible for the acquisition of 40 acres of what was then the old drive-in theater. The newest buildings at ECSU now sit on that property, including the Mickey L. Burnim Building and the Willie Gilchrist Building. Jenkins began working at his alma mater in 1972 as an assistant professor of biology, and over the next 25 years worked his way up the system, from assistant to associate to full professor with tenure, and from assistant dean for academic affairs to vice chancellor for academic affairs to senior vice chancellor, to acting chancellor and then chancellor.
During his tenure as chancellor, six new buildings were built and several new academic programs were implemented. The new science center, with a state-of-the-art planetarium, bears his name. Also under his tenure, the university had its accreditation reaffirmed.
Jenkins, a Selma, N.C., native, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Elizabeth City State University in 1965. He taught high school biology and chemistry on the eastern shore of Maryland before earning a master’s degree and a doctorate in biology education from Purdue University in 1969 and 1972, respectively.
A man who strongly believes in Luke 12:48, “to whom much is given much is required,” Jenkins loves making a difference in the lives of young people. He is married to Faleese Moore Jenkins, also an ECSU alumna, and they have three children, Dr. Lisa Lopez, a dentist, attorney Ginger Cartwright and Jimmy, Jr., a graphic artist and college professor, and five grandchildren.