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Jenkins, William Atwell | University of Michigan-Dearborn Archives

Name: Jenkins, William Atwell

Historical Note:

William Atwell Jenkins was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, November 18,1922.  He received his B.S. in education from New York University in 1948, his M.S. in 1949 from University of Illinois, and his Ph.D. also from UI in 1954.  He taught in high school in Moline, IL, during 1951-53, and moved on to Wisconsin State College, where he was an assistant professor of English from 1953-55, and associate professor of English and Education in 1956. He was associate professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee from 1958-1963.  He was associate dean of the School of Education, and director of teacher education and graduate studies there from 1963-1970, and was acting dean during 1968-1969.  He was dean and professor in the School of Education at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, from 1970-1974.  He was vice-president for academic affairs at Florida International University in Miami from 1974-1977.  From 1978-1980, Jenkins was professor and dean of the School of Education and Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs at the University of Colorado-Denver.  He was Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 1980 to1988.  He co-authored some eighty-five texts on reading and language for the elementary grades.  He also wrote numerous articles and edited Elementary English magazine from 1963-1970.  He was president of the National Council of Teachers of English during 1968-69, and received the Distinguished Service Award from that body. 

Jenkins made many contributions to the University of Michigan-Dearborn during his tenure as the second chancellor and first African-American to hold the position.  Michigan experienced an economic downturn during 1981-1982 that resulted in a substantial reduction in state funding to higher education.  It was Jenkins’ unenviable duty to balance the budget in part by reducing expenses and raising tuition significantly.  He also oversaw the long awaited opening of the new library in 1981, the celebration of the University’s Twenty-fifth Anniversary in 1984, the opening of the Manufacturing Systems Engineering Laboratory Building in 1988, and an increase in student population from 6400 to 7300.

Jenkins served on the boards of a number of civic organizations, including the City of Portland Development Commission.  He was a train buff, and an enthusiastic traveler.  Jenkins, the father of two, married the former Alice Wyne in 1974.  He retired from the University in 1988 and returned to Wisconsin where he died January 22, 1998.

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