Dr. Barry Jenkins to deliver 2024 Founders’ Day address

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

MACON – Former founding director of Mercer University’s Student Development Services, Dr. Barry Jenkins, will deliver the University’s 2024 Founders’ Day address on Feb. 7 at 10:20 a.m. in Toney Auditorium on the Macon campus. The title of his message is “Revival and Creation of Traditions.”  

Each year on Founders’ Day, a prominent Mercerian returns to campus to share how the University has influenced his or her life. The Heritage Life Committee of the Student Government Association (SGA) coordinates the annual convocation, which first took place at Mercer in 1891.  

“SGA and I feel privileged to welcome Dr. Barry Jenkins as our distinguished speaker for this year’s Founders’ Day,” said sophomore and SGA Heritage Life Committee Chair Alisha Mitchell. “He has played a crucial role, along with previous SGA members, in revitalizing some of Mercer’s most cherished traditions. We are honored by his presence and eagerly anticipate his insightful message on the significance of preserving the Mercer spirit and traditions.” 

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. 

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

After his tenure in student affairs, Dr. Jenkins moved to the Provost’s Office to serve as vice provost for institutional effectiveness for 11 years. In that role, he also was advisor to the University Honor Council. He said that 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. 

While at Mercer, he also taught in the psychology department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as in the College of Education.  

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. 

Dr. Jenkins has been married to his wife, Tracie, since 1969. He continues to dedicate his leadership to the Georgia Industrial Children’s Home Board of Directors, the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing Board of Trustees, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Commission on Ministry and the Bishop’s Executive Committee. He has also served three terms as senior warden of St. Francis Episcopal Church.