Livingstone College president will retire in July

Published 5:46 pm Thursday, February 10, 2022

SALISBURY — Livingstone College President Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. will retire on July 1, the college announced Thursday. 

Jenkins, 78, has been president of the college for 16 years, making him the second longest-tenured president in the school’s history. He told the Livingstone College Board of Trustees on Wednesday he plans to retire. 

Prior to Livingstone, Jenkins served as president of Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida, where a gymnasium bears his name. Before that, he was the first alumnus of Elizabeth City State University to serve as chancellor after earning both his master’s and doctorate degrees in biology from Purdue University. A science building at ECSU is named in his honor.

Livingstone College Board of Trustees Chairman Kenneth Monroe said Jenkins will remain in his role as president until a successor is appointed, and trustees and the college prepare for a series of events commemorating his tenure. 

“Having labored 38 years as a college and university president has been exhilarating and exhausting,” Jenkins said in a news release. “I am grateful for the great support from the Livingstone College Board of Trustees, our alumni, the people and leaders of the city of Salisbury and Rowan County, donors and friends of the college. There is a strong sense of melancholy in the realization that a long career is ending, yet to quote Kenny Rogers, you have to know when to hold them and when to fold them, and I believe the time has come.”

George W.C. Walker, former chairman of the college’s board, said Livingstone was at its lowest point when it began a search for a new president in 2006.

“He provided the greatest tenure of a president in the history of the college,” Walker said. “Dr. Jenkins phenomenally lifted the college to extraordinary heights. Without question, Livingstone College is in a much better place because of his presidency.”

A news release from Livingstone praised Jenkins for saving the college from closure by its accrediting agency, changing the college’s approach to educating students with a holistic model and overseeing construction of apartment-style units on campus for students with high GPAs, raising the net asset value of the college by $15 million, acquiring a former Holiday Inn to establish the hospitality management and culinary arts program and reactivating 40 acres of college land to grow food and supply culinary arts. College enrollment grew 35% to 1,400 students, the largest in school history, resulting in Livingstone purchasing College Park Apartments, a four-building complex that houses 100 students, the college said in its news release.

“Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins became president during a very critical time in the college’s history. Yet, he accepted the position with the attitude that he would be on a mission – a mission to transform the college’s deficits to a college designed and dedicated to overcome the odds and produce great leaders,” Monroe said. “His Christian principles and values restored hope and faith in the college administration, mission and values. He surrounded himself with gifted and loyal persons who connected with his vision to defy the odds. Their efforts brought back stability and integrity to the college.” 

George E. Battle, immediate past president of the Livingstone Board of Trustees, said visitors to Livingstone only need to set foot on campus “to see the great things” Jenkins has accomplished.