A friend of a friend-Leo Jenkins-English E Jones-November 24

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for November 24, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

Since 1975 I have been employed at a university. I started thinking about all the university presidents/chancellors I have had the privilege to work under. I knew each of them in varying degrees. I began to count how many presidents/chancellors I worked under in those forty years and the number I came up with was 13 with two of them being repeats.

The list in order includes

1975-77-Leo Jenkins –East Carolina

1977-1979-English E. Jones-UNC Pembroke

1979-1980-Paul Givens-UNC Pembroke

1980-1984-H.F “Cotton” Robinson-Western Carolina

1984-1985-Myron “Barney” Coulter

1985-1989-Paul Givens-UNC Pembroke

1989-1992-Joseph Oxendine-UNC Pembroke

1992-1998-Anthony DiGiorgio-Winthrop

1998-1999-Joseph Oxendine-UNC Pembroke

1999-2009-Allen Meadors-UNC Pembroke

2009-2010-Charles Jenkins-UNC Pembroke

2010-2015-Kyle Carter-UNC Pembroke

2015-Present-Robin Cummings-UNC Pembroke

English E. Jones was the Chancellor that gave me my first full-time job in 1977. I had just turned 24 and had become the Assistant Basketball Coach and Lecturer at UNC Pembroke which at that time was called Pembroke State University. I went to work in a building English E. Jones Center that had his name on it. That was pretty heady stuff.

Basketball Court

Chancellor Jones was UNCP’s leader from 1962-79. He ushered in an era marked by construction and enrollment growth, reminiscent of what the university went thru from 2000-2010. Besides the Jones Center, which was first dedicated in 1973, Chancellor Jones built the Herbert C. Oxendine Science Building, the Mary H. Livermore Library, Education and Business buildings and North and Belk residence halls.

(l-r) Belk and North Hall on the Campus of UNC Pembroke.

Belk and north

What I will always remember about English Jones was how he treated people. Back in 1977 the Town of Pembroke population was predominantly America Indians mostly all Lumbee Indians. I met a retired professor by the name of Ira Pate Lowry and he allowed me to rent one of his apartments right across the street from campus.

Retired UNCP Music Professor Ira Pate Lowery


He charged me $90 a month for a furnished 2 bedroom apartment. I lived there for three years. I didn’t know at the time I met him he was a Lumbee Indian.

I was very naïve about American Indians when I moved to Pembroke, NC. I had grown up in an ethnic melting pot neighborhood in Morristown, NJ.

One of the neighborhoods where my friends in New Jersey lived.


My best friends were from Cuba, Italy, Israel, Poland, and France. I had a stereotype of American Indians being what I had seen in the movies. I didn’t see any of that in Pembroke, NC.

As I moved around Pembroke, NC my first few weeks I just thought the people in Pembroke looked like people from my Northern NJ neighborhood. I was about to get an education in Chancellor’s Jones office in old Sampson Hall the second week of classes.

He had a practice of meeting any new faculty. Pembroke was small then probably a student body hovering near 2,000.

Chancellor Jones invited me into my office and started asking me some questions about my new position and my transition to Pembroke. He found out I lived in town with Ira Pate Lowery and asked me a question I will never forget and I suspect while he was alive he never forgot my answer.

The question Chancellor Jones asked me was “How are the Indians in town treating you?” My response was “I haven’t seen any Indians yet”. Chancellor Jones sat back in his chair and howled with laughter. He followed up with “You haven’t seen any Indians yet who do you think all these people are?”  I told him “I had seen a lot of Puerto Ricans, Italians, and Cubans but no Indians”.

I was serious and Dr. Jones had to set me straight that the entire town was mostly comprised of American Indians. I then told him that everyone had treated me exceptional. When Dr. Jones would see me on campus he never stopped asking how I was doing. I think my naivety made a lasting impression on him.

Dr. Jones was good friends with another Chancellor in the UNC System that made a big mark on his campus. His name was Leo Jenkins and he was the Chancellor at East Carolina University.



The Friend of the Friend-LEO JENKINS

The Change Agent-Leo Jenkins

Each University has a history. History has periods of time. Leo Jenkins time at ECU was memorable.

Leo Jenkins stood at the helm during some of East Carolina’s most bustling, productive years in the 1960s and ’70s. He brought optimism to Eastern North Carolina and rallied campus and community to focus on expanding the reach and impact of what was then East Carolina College to become East Carolina University.

From the time Leo Jenkins arrived at ECU to the day he retired  he guided the college into official university status, fought for a medical school in Greenville and oversaw expansion of academic, medical and athletic facilities.

1964 Photo of Leo Jenkins-with Flanagan Building over his right shoulder.

Leo Jenkins Wright Circle

He also was instrumental in integrating campus without a court order, boosted support for creative and performing arts and pursued changes on campus that reverberated from the student body to citizens across the East.

Leo Jenkins and English E Jones were two special leaders I got to serve under.






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