Personal files (1960-1978), including correspondence, clippings, reports, a manuscript, photographs, and miscellaneous.
Leo Jenkins was born in 1913 in Succasunna, NJ, where his father was employed by Standard Oil. Jenkins served as a Major in World War II where he saw action at Guadalcanal, Guam and Iwo Jima. For his military service, Jenkins received the Bronze Star and two Presidential Citations. He married the former Lillian Jacobsen of Lavallette, N.J., and they had six children, James, Jeffrey, Jack, Suzanne, Patricia and Sallie Jean. Jenkins received his B.S. degree from Rutgers University, his M.A. degree from Columbia University and his degree of doctor of education from New York University. He also participated in graduate study at Duke University in 1946. Jenkins started his career as a public school teacher in New Jersey, then later served as Dean of Somerville High School in that state.
In 1947 Jenkins joined the faculty of East Carolina Teachers College, where he served as Dean until being elected as President of the college in 1960. He eventually was named Chancellor, and retired in 1978. During his tenure in both positions, he stood out as a great leader during a controversial and challenging period for the school. These issues included student enrollments doubling in number and expansion and restructuring of academic programs. Under Jenkins' leadership, great achievements occurred, including the granting of university status for the then-named, East Carolina College, the establishment of a medical school and school of nursing and the improvement of the school's athletic program which culminated in the acceptance into the Southern Conference.
Jenkins also served in many capacities for various educational associations, including the North Carolina College Conference, the cooperative of the State Board of Higher Education, North Carolina of the Southern Council on Teacher Education for the N.C. Parent-Teacher Association, the N.C. Education Association; Chairman of the committee, the State Advisory Council on Education, Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the North Carolina Association of Academic Deans. Throughout his career, Jenkins also published a vast amount of articles related to educational issues.
Jenkins was also very active in local activities. This consisted of serving in various capacities with the Pitt County Red Cross chapter, the Greenville Recreation Commission, the Kiwanis Club, the Pitt County Polio Campaign and North State Little League baseball. The Leo Jenkins Cancer Center was also founded in his memory. Jenkins died in 1989.
Jenkins' correspondence is divided into political and personal. However, on some occasions, some topics of personal nature can be found in the political series, and political in the personal. See container list for more details. Early correspondence includes a look into many segments of Jenkins' life and activities. Included are photocopies of letters to son (Jimmy) while in military service (1944), letters concerning Jenkins' partnership and assistance to The Methodist Church, and his work with the U.S. Marine Corps. Also present is communication between Jenkins and his former military colleagues. Other individuals represented in the correspondence include Dr. Robert Clothier, the president of Rutgers University, the Dean of Teachers College at Columbia University, and other university administrators commenting on the progress of East Carolina Teachers College (1950), as well as requesting Jenkins' assistance with improving their state education systems. Of particular interest is one letter which concerns confusing media reports regarding the requirement in North Carolina for all teachers to be certified before hiring (1951). Jenkins responds back with an explanation of the system. Jenkins also received letters from past colleagues at Rutgers University and the University of Georgia System, including letters of recommendation for other positions. Other letters include those from Frank G. Clement, then governor of Tennessee, discussing religion (1953), and a Richmond, Virginia church bishop (1959). Included with this letter are minutes of The Official Board of the First United Methodist Church of Washington, North Carolina recommending the establishment of a two-year medical school at East Carolina College (ECC).
Later correspondence is between Jenkins and various business, political, and religious organizations on both local and national levels. Highlights include Pepsi Cola sending a new advertising idea to Jenkins (1966), a press release regarding the death of Mrs. Leo Jenkins' mother (1967), and Jenkins contemplation of running for state office in some capacity (the initial plan was for Robert Morgan to run for governor and Jenkins for lieutenant governor, 1971). Further correspondence concerns more political speculation by Jenkins for possible Democratic office, but with him stating that he is still not finished at East Carolina University (ECU, 1972), and a request for Jenkins to create a painting (1972).
Other topics covered during this time period consist of the United States Information Agency, for which Jenkins continued working for as a consultant (1972), one of Jenkins' books entitled Raise Your Own Kids, Jenkins' offer to support Jim Hunt for North Carolina governor, further support of education, discussion of polls favoring a four-year medical school at ECU (1973) and Jenkins thanking the state convention for passing a resolution supporting the medical school.
Final correspondence in the Jenkins papers relate to charitable donations and other types of assistance to ECU from various North Carolina businesses, including the Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Company. Also included with one letter is a copy of Jenkins' opening remarks for the 1975-76 school year at ECU. Other correspondence of note discusses the marriage of Jenkins' daughter (1976), a notice indicating nomination for the position of Chancellor of Higher Education in New Jersey (declines), sympathy for the death of Mrs. Jenkins' mother (1977), signed letters from Senator Jesse Helms wishing Jenkins a recovery from a health issue (1977-78), Jenkins stating he is retiring and leaving for Atlantic Beach and his wife's health problems (1978), announcement of a portrait to be done of Jenkins, and a photocopy of a letter from actor Alan Alda thanking Jenkins for his long service (1979).
Also of interest is another letter from Jesse Helms and North Carolina Congressional Club member Thomas F. Ellis thanking Jenkins for attending and making a small speech at a dinner held in Greenville, North Carolina on April 20, 1979. Included with the letter is a sheet with numbered points of items for Jenkins to mention (in the speech) regarding Helms, as well as a flyer entitled "Come and Meet Jesse: Dinner With Senator Jesse Helms" describing the dinner which was to support (and sponsored by) the North Carolina Congressional Club, proclaimed as "North Carolina's Foremost Bi-Partisan Organization." Other letters concern a recommendation by Jenkins for David B. Stevens, Jr. (former ECU attorney) for a pilot for Piedmont Airlines (1980), more recommendations made from the Office of the Governor, congratulation letters to elected politicians in North Carolina, and Jenkins' participation in a rescue squad in Atlantic Beach.
Printed materials consist of press releases and committee lists (most related to Jim Hunt), clippings discussing Jenkins' possible run for governor and his work at ECU. Also included are speeches (many promoting Robert Morgan), certificates of achievement, television show transcripts promoting the growth of ECU, Bath, North Carolina Historical Commission documents, and North Carolina church publications. Military-related printed materials include certificates, original orders, and U.S. Marine publications. Audio and visual materials consist of a few sheets of positive proof sheet images featuring a public speaking event (undated) and Robert Morgan-related audio tapes of radio commercials (undated) and questions answered at ECU (1974). See container list for more details on the materials mentioned above.
Gift of Dr. Leo W. Jenkins
Encoded by Apex Data Services
Processed by Dale Sauter
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.