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Dr. Franklyn Jenifer To Retire As President
University Has Grown Dramatically
During His Tenure
RICHARDSON, Texas (Oct. 2, 2003) - Dr. Franklyn G. Jenifer announced today that he was retiring as president of The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) but would remain in the post until The University of Texas System Board of Regents appoints his successor.
Jenifer, who will turn 65 in March, joined U. T. Dallas as president in 1994. UTD's enrollment has increased more than 61 percent during his tenure - from less than 8,500 students to nearly 14,000 -- and the campus has undergone a dramatic physical transformation as major new facilities have been constructed - including buildings for the School of Management, the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and the Callier Center for Communication Disorders as well as a Student Activity Center, athletic facilities and hundreds of student apartments.
During the same period, the university has grown in prestige and, in recent years, increasingly been recognized for the high quality of its faculty and students and the administration's unwavering commitment to excellence. UTD has emerged from its standing as what Jenifer often called "the best-kept secret in Texas" and has begun to gain attention outside The Lone Star State for its burgeoning research capabilities, its championship collegiate chess team and such academic innovations as the Eugene McDermott Scholars Program and the Academic Bridge Program.
Jenifer is a nationally respected educator who previously served as president of Howard University in Washington, D.C., as chancellor of higher education in Massachusetts, where he was responsible for 27 public colleges and universities with a total enrollment of approximately 180,000 students, and as vice chancellor of the New Jersey Department of Higher Education, a system composed of 32 public institutions of higher education with an enrollment of nearly a quarter-million students.
"I have had a wonderful and, I believe, fruitful career, and I have very much enjoyed my nearly one decade in Texas," Jenifer said. "But I have reached that point in my life when I would like to spend more time with my family and engage in some of my personal interests, such as reading and writing. The time is right for me, and I think it is right for UTD as well. To ensure that there is an orderly transition, however, I will remain as UTD president until my successor is named and assumes office."
Jenifer, who is only the third president in UTD's 34-year history, said he and his wife, Alfleda, most likely eventually would move back to the northeastern part of the United States to be closer to their three grown children. He said they probably would settle in New Jersey.
Jenifer's announcement today that he plans to retire came three months after UTD reached an historic agreement - called "Project Emmitt" -- with Texas Instruments and the State of Texas that will bring the university as much as $300 million and enable it to move much more quickly toward its goal of becoming a first-tier research institution.
University of Texas System Chancellor Mark Yudof praised Jenifer's leadership of U. T. Dallas and called Jenifer "a sensitive, compassionate and thoughtful man of reason who has been a delight to work with."
"UTD has grown dramatically in both depth and breadth under Dr. Jenifer," Yudof said, "and today it is one of the best universities of its kind - with a growing reputation nationally. It is a place for serious people with serious ideas. Frank oversaw UTD's development from an upper-division school into a full-service university. He will leave The University of Texas at Dallas in an excellent position, both in terms of teaching and research. All of us in the U.T. System recognize and applaud his tremendous leadership and accomplishments for the institution and for the State of Texas."
Yudof said that he and the regents hoped to have Jenifer's successor in place by August 2004, the beginning of the 2004-05 academic year. He said a national search will be conducted by the System to fill what the chancellor called "this critically important position in higher education in Texas."
Charles Miller, chairman of the Board of Regents, echoed Yudof's praise of Jenifer.
"Dr. Jenifer's accomplishments at UTD have been extraordinary," Miller said. "During his tenure, the university has grown tremendously and has become one of the most selective universities in Texas, with average SAT scores of entering freshmen now in the 1225 range. At the same time, UTD has become nationally recognized for its work in such areas as space sciences, audiology, nanotechnology, brain science, telecommunications and sickle cell disease research. Franklyn's decision to make this announcement permits the board to conduct a thorough national search for a new president and an orderly transition at a very important juncture for the university. The entire board is grateful to him for his leadership and for his decision to remain until a successor is named."
That under Jenifer UTD has excelled in such areas should be a surprise to no one, since his background is rooted in scientific research. He received his Bachelor of Science degree and his Master of Science degree, both in microbiology, from Howard University. He was awarded his Ph.D. in plant virology from the University of Maryland and then went to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Pioneering Laboratory in Plant Virology in Beltsville, Md.
Jenifer began his career in academia at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He started as an assistant professor of biology at the Livingston College campus in New Brunswick in 1970, became an associate professor the following year and a full professor in 1976. He also served as chairperson of the biology department and as chairperson of the university senate. Later, he served as associate provost at Rutgers' Newark campus.
Through the years, Jenifer has been a member of many distinguished educational, scientific, civic and corporate organizations. He was appointed by then-Gov. George W. Bush to the Texas Science and Technology Council, and he serves on the Board of Directors of ChevronTexaco, Inc., the Board of Directors of the North Texas Commission and the Board of Trustees of the Texas Health Research Institute, as well as the Public Advisory Committee of the Texas Higher Education Opportunity Project. He served as chairman of the American Council on Education, the preeminent national education organization, and on the board of directors of the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Jenifer also is a member of the Dallas Citizens Council, the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce, the Advisory Council of Jacob's Ladder, the Dallas Center for Performing Arts' President's Advisory Council and the Monitoring Committee for the Louisiana Desegregation Agreement.
Jenifer's contributions to society have brought him many honors and awards. Among them are honorary degrees from Babson College, Boston College, Mount Holyoke College, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Bowdoin College, Kean College of New Jersey, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Essex County (N.J.) Community College.
Jenifer has published numerous articles, ranging from writings in scientific journals on plant viruses to newspaper commentaries on such topics as Afrocentricity, residential schools for at-risk youngsters, black entrepreneurship, "political correctness," the academic preparation of student athletes, the enduring value of predominantly black colleges and universities, the aftermath of the Rodney King incident and, most recently, UTD's emergence as a top research institution, tuition deregulation in Texas and the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings this year on affirmative action.
Dr. Murray Leaf, president of UTD's Faculty Senate, said Jenifer's announcement signified both "a sad day for the UTD family and a triumphant day for a great man and wonderful friend who has earned the enrichment of a happy — and, I hope, long - retirement."
"Frank," Leaf said, "has presided over great growth at U. T. Dallas combined with enhanced academic productivity and standards. But important and difficult as this is in itself, what is more important, and what actually underlies it, is a consistently increasing sense of community and community commitment to the highest ideals of education and humanity. He has helped make this a remarkably cohesive academic community, and for that very reason his absence will be felt especially sharply."
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