Barry Jenkins ‘had a major impact on generations of Mercerians’ | Mercer Legends

Dr. Barry Jenkins and Gloria Ross are shown in an office in 1993.
Dr. Barry Jenkins and Gloria Ross in 1993. Photo courtesy Mercer Archives

Dr. J. Barry Jenkins supported and encouraged generations of Mercerians, restored beloved traditions and established new ones during his more than 30 years with the University. Here’s how he became a Mercer Legend.

Dr. J. Barry Jenkins

Mercer connection: Mercer faculty and administrator on the Macon campus

Years at Mercer: 1978-2011

What he did: Dr. Jenkins served in a number of roles during his long Mercer career. After completing his Ph.D. in counseling psychology, he came to Mercer in 1978 as director of student development services, which included university counseling and career development services. Seven years later, he was selected as vice provost and dean of student affairs, a position he held for 15 years.

After his tenure in student affairs, he moved to the Provost Office to serve as vice provost for institutional effectiveness for 11 years. In that role, he also was the adviser to the University Honor Council.

Dr. Jenkins taught in the psychology department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as in the College of Education. He made numerous presentations at national and regional conferences of student affairs and professional organizations and served in various leadership roles with the American College Personnel Association. He also served as president of the Georgia College Personnel Association.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, master’s degree in education from Northwestern State University of Louisiana, and a doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi. 

Why he’s a legend: While at Mercer, Dr. Jenkins was a faithful supporter of students, faculty and staff, and a friend and mentor to many. He continues to keep in touch with a great number of his former students and colleagues to this day. 

He encouraged staff members to engage in professional development opportunities and create programs that would include students in decision-making processes. In his role as vice provost and dean of student affairs, he was most proud of being able to encourage students to realize their potential and to appreciate the individual differences in others. He urged new students to fully utilize the University’s services and resources and established the predecessor to University 101, which began as a voluntary student experience and is now a course required for all new students. 

Among his many roles at Mercer, Dr. Jenkins served as Student Government Association adviser for 15 years. He was always open to new ideas but, as a Mercer historian, also recognized the importance of the University’s past and traditions. During his tenure, the Jesse Mercer statue was erected, stairs were created in the Administration Building tower so visitors could safely experience the climb, and lights were installed to illuminate the campus spires. The beloved Mercer traditions of Pilgrimage to Penfield, Founders’ Day and Christmas tree lighting were also restored. 

Dr. Jenkins was honored as Mercer’s Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year for 1988-89. He was named one of 75 “Diamond Honorees” by the American College Personnel Association at its 1999 national conference in Atlanta, one of only three people in Georgia to receive the distinction. The award recognizes personnel who have helped shape the field of student affairs and made an impact on their institution and community.

The University’s Barry Jenkins Award was created in his honor and recognizes one student’s demonstrated leadership each year.

Quotable: “One of the most important aspects of Barry’s work in student affairs was his close relationship with students, encouraging them to take leadership positions and to be well-informed citizens of the world. Barry had an exceptional ability to develop both students and staff. Barry Jenkins has had a major impact on generations of Mercerians, including me,” said Dr. Laurie Lankin, professor emerita of counseling and human sciences in the College of Professional Advancement.

Barry Jenkins is pictured today, wearing a Mercer hat.
Photo courtesy Barry Jenkins

Mercer Legends is a series that highlights iconic figures who left a lasting impact on the University and its faculty, staff and students, as well as the community.


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