Her parents’ success, which had a positive effect across generations of her family, stayed with her, guiding Jenkins through undergraduate studies at Drexel University, where she double-majored in accounting and finance. After graduation, she became an auditor with PwC and earned her CPA before deciding to pursue a Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Iowa.
A stint as an accounting faculty member at Washington University in St. Louis and another at Vanderbilt University followed, then eight years at the University of Kentucky, where Jenkins was the Von Allmen Endowed Chair of Accountancy and vice dean in the Gatton College of Business and Economics. She left that position in July to take the helm at McIntire.
In a career that has woven together experience in both business and business education, Jenkins has seen how, in the same way that her parents’ prosperity enabled them to help the rest of her family, business graduates can improve not only their quality of life, but their community’s.
“Graduates from business schools are successful when they bring others along with them,” Jenkins said. “When their accomplishments are tempered with an understanding of the power of business to set the pace of life for a city, a state a country, they can use their agency to positively affect the quality of life for others.
“Being successful is not about making lots of money. It is about financial security, yes, but it is also about lifting others as you climb.”
We recently spoke with Jenkins to find out how she’s settling into the new role during this unprecedented time in higher education, and history.
Q. How would you describe your first 30 days as the Commerce School dean?
A. Exhausting! Sitting in front of the computer on back-to-back Zoom calls all day is really tiring. The most challenging part of my first 30 days has been figuring out how to lead a group of people that I have never actually met in person. The approach I am taking is to assume that everyone is my dear friend and wants only the best for me and the organization. With this mindset, I have been able to develop strong personal and professional relationships with many in leadership roles across the school.
Additionally, I have been able to give every member of the staff and faculty an opportunity to meet with me, which has been a tremendous gift. I am hopeful that over the next few months I will have had the opportunity to spend some time with each member of the school.
Even though we are in the midst of a pandemic, that doesn’t mean we can’t take time to innovate and to imagine what we can do with our curriculum, our delivery methods, levels of access, and more that would be transformational for our students. It’s exciting to think about how to incorporate the unimaginable into our new normal for the benefit of the students we serve.