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Following a Stellar Career, William Jenkins Retires from LSU

After a stellar career in higher education that spans more than 35 years, William "Bill" Jenkins is calling it a career … for the second time.

Jenkins, who had retired from LSU in 2007, agreed to come out of retirement last year to serve the university as interim system president and shortly after, he agreed to take on the duties of chancellor of LSU as well.

During his time back at LSU, Jenkins has spearheaded LSU's reorganization efforts by conducting public forums at each institution in the LSU System, serving as a member of the Transition Advisory Team and supplying invaluable knowledge and feedback on the future of higher education in America. He also provided steady leadership during a time of change for higher education.

Jenkins, a native of South Africa who has worked at LSU since 1988, was first named chancellor of LSU in 1996. During his tenure, he reorganized the campus administration to make it more efficient and crafted a university-wide strategic plan that was the forerunner to LSU's Flagship Agenda. He also became nationally known for his leadership and compassion when he spoke to numerous national media outlets, as well as students and parents, in the wake of a tragic student death in 1997.

Jim Zietz/LSU University Relations

In 1999, Jenkins was named president of the LSU System, and throughout his time as president, he was an active and vocal advocate for the health sciences centers and the public hospital system, once again underscoring his service to the people of Louisiana.

Jenkins' tenure as president was marked by unprecedented growth and challenges, including the destruction of LSU institutions and hospitals in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the subsequent recovery of those facilities in the aftermath. While he was president, he foreshadowed his own career and donned the two LSU hats for the first time by also serving as interim chancellor of LSU, while the campus was in the process of searching for a new chancellor.

A recipient of numerous accolades and honors during his career, Jenkins was most recently recognized during the May commencement at LSU with an honorary degree for his service, unwavering loyalty and dedication to the university.

As Jenkins bids farewell to LSU, a number of people who have worked with him over the years in Louisiana and beyond wanted to reflect on his career in higher education, wish him the best, and thank him for his service to LSU and the state of Louisiana.


"Over the course of two decades, I have had the privilege of working with Bill Jenkins on many occasions. I always have been impressed with his deep commitment to the LSU family, his integrity, his ambassadorial acumen and, above all, his ability to move LSU steadily forward. I am grateful for his many years of effective service at LSU, as well as for the influential mentorship he provided to me early in my career."
- Stephen Moret, secretary of Louisiana Economic Development


"Dr. Jenkins is a visionary leader who has provided exceptional service to LSU and the state of Louisiana. He leaves behind a tremendous legacy serving two-terms as president, and his unwavering dedication to higher education has been paramount throughout both terms. His tenure has been marked by significant achievements, while navigating through periods of change. I am grateful to have worked with him and wish him the best in all his future endeavors."
- Jim Purcell, commissioner of Higher Education


"Dr. Jenkins not only provided outstanding leadership for LSU – he was also an active partner with the City of Baton Rouge and the Parish of East Baton Rouge in working for growth and progress in our city and parish. Baton Rouge has earned the highest national rankings, and his personal involvement and tireless commitment have been vital to that success. Bill Jenkins has worn many hats and his countless contributions will be missed, but none more than his friendship. We wish him all the best; he will always be at home in Baton Rouge."
- Melvin "Kip" Holden, Baton Rouge mayor-president


"Dr. Jenkins helped shape BRAC and believed in our mission of regional economic development from the beginning. His vision for LSU, the Baton Rouge Area and the state has put him in a class of his own, as has his willingness to step up and fill so many critical roles with passion and leadership. We have nothing but the utmost gratitude and respect for Dr. Jenkins and wish him all the best in this next phase."
- Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber


"Dr. Jenkins has provided leadership and direction to LSU and the cause of higher education for many years. He has served humbly, yet he has been steadfast and resolute in his commitment to LSU. I am grateful to have worked with Dr. Jenkins and for his service to LSU."
- Hank Danos, LSU Board of Supervisors chairman and Danos president/CEO


"Dr. Jenkins is the very embodiment of erudition, grace and elegance. He is what every university president should be, and he has always unerringly conducted himself in accord with standards few can approach. Dr. Jenkins has always been our Chief Aspiration Officer and Chief Imagination Officer, in addition to being our CEO. Plus, he had an uncanny ability to smooth the waters and bring reason and dignity to difficult times. Dr. Jenkins is indeed a man of all seasons … a person of incomparable grace, intellectual strength and an unerring moral and strategic compass. He is a true man of science with the heart and soul of a gifted humanist. LSU has never had a greater president and will never know a finer man."
- Stephen Perry, New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau president/CEO, member of the LSU Board of Supervisors, and formerly served as chief of staff under Gov. Mike Foster


"Bill Jenkins' service to LSU and Louisiana higher education, especially during challenging times, has been truly remarkable. No one has been more loyal or committed."
- Michael Martin, chancellor of the Colorado State University System and former chancellor of LSU


"LSU Health Shreveport owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. William Jenkins. Under his guidance and leadership, this campus gained its independence and its own chancellor. His influence has been instrumental in helping our medical school and university teaching hospitals grow in size, services and stature. On behalf of north Louisiana citizens, I thank you, Dr. Jenkins, for your support and vision. This legacy of independence will continue for generations."
- Robert A. Barish, chancellor at LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport


"While Bill Jenkins has been widely recognized and lauded for his capability, Katrina truly confirmed the quality of his leadership. The aftermath of disaster also provided one of the most telling glimpses of Bill Jenkins' character. Despite the enormous burdens on his time, he would quietly slip out to go over to the PMAC and the Field House to shake the hands of those volunteering, offering his personal thanks and encouragement. No matter the personal cost, he was there when we were there, and we were there around the clock. His humility was also quite humbling. Eschewing recognition for himself, he told each of us over and over again how proud he was of us and that he was in awe of what we were accomplishing. When all along, it was his bottomless reserve of strength that supported us. To hear him tell it, he's just a simple country vet, but don't let his humble demeanor fool you. Dr. William Jenkins is a peerless leader, whose inspiration and motivation brought us to where we are today. And we and the State of Louisiana will be forever in his debt."
- Larry Hollier, chancellor at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans


"The LSU AgCenter and I are very appreciative and supportive of President Jenkins' sacrifice to return to LSU to serve in its time of need."
- Bill Richardson, chancellor of the LSU AgCenter


"In all of his work at LSU, President Jenkins has been a ‘uniter,' a consistently positive and hopeful embodiment of both the great traditions and the bright future of this university. President Jenkins' selfless return to LSU in 2012 cemented his place as one of the key figures in LSU history."
- Jack M. Weiss, chancellor at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center


"To me, Dr. Jenkins has been the very model of the servant-leader that so many aspire to be but so few actually are. I'm very grateful to him for all the many specific instances of guidance and support he has provided LSU Shreveport and the LSU System, but I'm also personally grateful for having been able to work with and learn from such an accomplished leader."
- Paul Sisson, interim chancellor at LSU Shreveport


"With the departure of Dr. Jenkins after serving, again, with distinction as interim chancellor and interim president of the LSU System, thoughts of commitment, self-and family-sacrifice, love of LSU, servant leadership and kindness immediately emerge. As vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service for 12 years, I found Dr. Jenkins to be keenly interested in the betterment of our great state of Louisiana, whether it was issues dealing with agriculture, poverty, 4-H youth development or the tremendous challenges facing our coastal resources and coastal communities. In fact, back in January 2005, just before Katrina and Rita ravaged Louisiana, Dr. Jenkins – working with the Louisiana Sea Grant Program and the LSU AgCenter - spearheaded the first of a series of statewide, annual forums called Presidents' Forums on Meeting Coastal Challenges. With the full engagement of all Louisiana university system presidents, these forums focused on critical issues important to the coastal sustainability and attempted to highlight the sober realities facing coastal Louisiana and need for and willingness of universities to directly apply valuable research discoveries, relevant academic programs and effective statewide public service and outreach. Leadership at work!

"Upon announcing my retirement from the LSU AgCenter in January 2013, little did I know that Dr. Jenkins would soon ask me to assume the interim chancellor's position at LSU Alexandria – a position I accepted and began serving March 1. I have told many, I accepted this challenge and opportunity largely due to the tremendous respect and admiration I have for Bill Jenkins – I only hope that my service in Alexandria is worthy of the high standard he has set for all of us in higher education. May God bless him and his family as he enters retirement once again. Dr. Jenkins, my wife Arlene and I wish you and Peggy a healthy, long and happy retirement and extend a warm thanks to both of you for giving of yourselves to the people of Louisiana. You are leaving Louisiana better than you found it ... and, for that, we all thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
- Paul Coreil, interim chancellor at LSU Alexandria


"A leader is someone with a vision who can inspire others to follow. Over his 25 years of service, it has been Dr. Jenkins' deep-rooted love for LSU A&M, the LSU System, and for his adopted state of Louisiana, that has provided the vision, the inspiration, and the leadership which he has exhibited and shared with others. His extraordinary level of commitment to these worthy ends have been noted, appreciated and, with his retirement, will be sorely missed."
- William Nunez, chancellor of LSU Eunice


"Dr. Jenkins has been a passionate leader and consummate spokesperson for LSU and higher education in Louisiana and has been selfless in his commitment to this institution at all levels. Thank you, Bill, and all the best to you, Peggy, and your family in your ‘final' retirement."
- Peter F. Haynes, dean of the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine


"Dr. Jenkins has been a well-respected, dedicated leader in higher education for decades. Even after retiring, he selflessly returned to make tough, smart decisions when LSU needed him most. In addition to his contributions to higher education, Dr. Jenkins' personal approach to leadership sets an important example. He is as focused on treating people well as he is on leading with integrity, confidence and a strategic eye toward the future."
- G. Lee Griffin, president and CEO of the LSU Foundation


"For the past 25 years, Dr. Jenkins has served LSU and the LSU System in a number of different capacities, holding virtually every major administrative post at LSU. His service to LSU, to its faculty, staff and students, and to the people of Louisiana, is unparalleled among educators. It has been an honor to get to work closely with him for the past year, and I wish him nothing but the best in retirement."
- Stuart Bell, LSU executive vice chancellor & provost


"Bill Jenkins has been a great supporter of athletics at LSU and his leadership will be missed. He demands great respect beyond the campus and he is revered throughout the SEC. He has served LSU at a critical time in the university's history and we have been fortunate to have him represent this institution."
- Joe Alleva, LSU vice chancellor and director of athletics


"For the last couple of months, I have enjoyed every moment that I had to work with President Jenkins. Through his actions and commitment, it is clear that he truly wants nothing but the highest degree of success for LSU and those impacted by the work of LSU."
- F. King Alexander, incoming LSU president and chancellor


"Dr. Jenkins' tireless devotion to the university will be his everlasting legacy. He will be missed by all of us who love LSU, but we wish him the very best as he and Peggy can spend more time with his incredible family. God speed my friend."
- C. Stokes McConnell Jr. of Adams and Reese LLP


"Bill Jenkins is totally committed to the education and research mission of LSU offering his service for its success far beyond what might have been required or even asked. He is a consummate gentleman and visionary – thoughtful, compassionate and kind. I predict that history will show his contributions to make a lasting positive impact both on the university as well as Louisiana, for which our children and grandchildren will add their thanks for a job well-done."
- John J. Finan Jr., president/CEO of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System Inc.