Moraine Valley Community College honored Dr. Sylvia M. Jenkins for her 10th anniversary as the college president at a ceremony in August. She was installed as the college’s fifth president during an outdoor inauguration on Oct. 16, 2012.
“It has been 10 years filled with unexpected events, many joyous occasions and, at times, very stressful moments, but I am grateful to have experienced this time at Moraine Valley,” Jenkins said. “When I was selected as the college’s fifth president, I wanted to make sure that under my leadership, Moraine Valley would maintain its prominent position in the world of higher education, and we have, and we will continue to reach to new heights.”
Jenkins was hired at the college in 1986 as a part-time librarian and worked in the Library until 2001, when she became the assistant dean of Teaching and Learning. By June 2002, she was promoted to the dean of Academic Development and Learning Resource Center, where she worked until her appointment of vice president of Academic Affairs in April 2010, a position she held until her presidency.
Dr. Margaret Lehner, vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive assistant to the president, hosted the anniversary ceremony. As an employee of the college for 53 years, Lehner has worked with Jenkins during her entire tenure.
“In every position she has held, she has always acted in the best interest of the college and puts Moraine Valley first,” Lehner said. “Her thoughtful and considerate nature is evident in every decision she makes, and that is not always easy when tasked with running a college. I personally have watched her struggle with some difficult choices, but her ultimate action is always taken with the greater good in mind.”
Other speakers during the ceremony were Joe Murphy, the longest-serving trustee on the Board of Trustees; Dr. Normah Salleh-Barone, vice president of Student Development, who was mentored by Jenkins during her first Moraine Valley job as director of Multicultural Student Affairs in the early 2000s; Nematallah Hasan, student trustee; and Dr. Troy Swanson, teaching and learning librarian and past president of the Moraine Valley Faculty Association, who was hired by Jenkins when she was dean of the Learning Resource Center.
Murphy was the chair of the Board of Trustees when Jenkins was inaugurated.
“I knew she was the best choice to move the college into its next phase, and I was right,” he said, noting Jenkins immediately got to work building on President Emeritus Dr. Vernon Crawley’s legacy. “Now, a decade later, she can proudly stand on her own accomplishments as a leader, colleague and friend. I have been delighted to work with Dr. Jenkins during her presidential tenure.”
Most of the college’s faculty and staff were in attendance as were several trustees from the Board of Trustees, members of the Moraine Valley Foundation Board of Directors and about three dozen of Jenkins’ close friends and family, including members of her church and Crawley and his wife, Betty.
After the remarks, a commemorative video played, and members of the board and the college’s Executive Leadership Team presented Jenkins with flowers and a gift from the college – a 5-foot kinetic sculpture being created by the Welding Department that will be erected in the Shakespeare Garden on campus.
Jenkins was touched by the affair.
“I am grateful for all of the hardworking and dedicated faculty and staff, who have time and time again stepped up and faced the task before them with creativity and fortitude,” she said. “I am grateful for all of our students who persisted and met their goals, even when times were tough. I am grateful for all of the friends of Moraine Valley who support our students through their generous support and encouragement. I am grateful for the opportunities the role of president has provided me on the international, national, state and local levels. I am proud to say, I am the president of Moraine Valley Community College.”
Major accomplishments during Dr. Jenkins’ presidency
- Moraine Valley receives the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran Education. (2014)
- Jenkins receives the Egretha Award through the African American Women’s Business and Career Magazine. (2014)
- Jenkins invited to White House College Opportunity Summit by President Obama. (2014)
- Moraine Valley receives the prestigious 2015 Advancing Diversity Award from the American Association of Community Colleges for its DREAM programming. (2015)
- Moraine Valley hosts the League for Innovation in the Community College’s annual Innovations Conference in Chicago. (2016)
- Jenkins creates first Women’s Leadership Conference on campus. (2016)
- College celebrates its 50th anniversary with yearlong events. (2017)
- Jenkins is one of four community college presidents to be featured in the Legendary Leadership video project produced by Ferris State University’s Doctorate in Community College Leadership program. (2017)
- The Mosque Foundation presents Dr. Jenkins with the Leadership Award. (2017)
- The Dr. Sylvia M. Jenkins Leadership Scholarship is created. (2017)
- Jenkins recognized by Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs with an Outstanding Commitment in Education Award. (2018)
- College named a partner in the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative. (2018)
- The Council for Advancement and Support of Education District V presents Dr. Jenkins with its Chief Executive Leadership Award. (2018)
- College earns the Equity Award from the Illinois Community College Trustees Association and the Central Region Equity Award from the Association of Community College Trustees. (2018)
- The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program names Moraine Valley one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation; invites college to apply for $1 million prize. (2019)
- Jenkins receives the Craig Stettner Award for Environmental Education from the Chicago Audubon Society. (2019)
- Moraine Valley celebrates its 50th commencement; U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is keynote. (2019)
- The U.S. Department of Education awards Moraine Valley distinction of being a Hispanic-Serving Institution. (2021)
- Jenkins wins the Advocacy Award from the Illinois Community College Trustees Association. (2021)
- Moraine Valley Athletics celebrates 45 years. (2021)
- Jenkins wins the Pacesetter Award from District 3 of the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations. (2021)
- Jenkins is invited by Gov. Pritzker to sit on Illinois Community College Board. (2022)
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