SSW Alumnus, David Jenkins, Serves as Dean of the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville
David Jenkins, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received his bachelor’s degree and master’s from Louisiana State University. In 1988, Jenkins graduated with an MSW from the LSU School of Social Work. He then continued to earn his doctorate degree from Florida State University. Jenkins is currently a professor and the dean of the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville.
Jenkins grew up living in Baton Rouge and loving LSU. When it came time for him to pick a college, Jenkins says he couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. After earning his undergraduate degree in Business Administration, he was not planning to work toward a master’s or doctorate. After a change of heart, Jenkins knew he would want to receive his MSW from LSU.
My LSU Experience
Jenkins describes his time at LSU to be transformative. Beginning the program, he had a limited amount of information about the social work but was eager to learn. Jenkins believes that the LSU School of Social Work expanded his understanding of the world and opened new experiences for him.
“I believe my graduate education built a solid foundation for me as I have continued to grow and learn throughout my career.”
He also believes the MSW program and its educational experiences helped him become more culturally adept. Jenkins did not really know much about other cultures before graduate school. His courses helped him realize how narrow his experiences were and how much there was to learn about other people. This realization led Jenkins to be empathetic to the experiences of others.
During his time in the School of Social Work, Jenkins grew close to two faculty members. One being Dr. Barry Daste. Dr. Daste helped Jenkins gain early experiences in group work classes that were necessary for future careers. Jenkins was pushed academically to help him grow as a young practitioner in his placement. The other faculty member is Dr. Terri Combs- Orme. This was Jenkins’ first class in graduate school. Dr. Combs-Orme helped him how to read and digest a large amount of material and to work on his writing. She helped Jenkins turn his ideas into presentations.
“She pushed me, but supported me,” Jenkins said. “I needed that in my early days of graduate education.”
An Ideal Career
After graduating, Jenkins never dreamed of moving into a career in academia. His plan was to work for a few years, and then he would have a private practice. Jenkins was then exposed to various options that came with a social work degree, and loved to explore the opportunities. He then earned his doctorate and got a job in academia.
“I have loved that decision as I love the interaction with students shaping future social workers.”
Jenkins has taught classes for more than 27 years, educating thousands of students. Whether they were social work majors or students from other majors taking one of his classes, Jenkins hopes they took at least one thing with them that impacted their communities. Even now as dean, Jenkins continues to make an impact at a different level. He leads a unit of the university and greatly shapes the decisions made in his area, but also gets to help shape the entire campus. He is regularly part of meetings with other deans, the provost, and the president of the university and gets to bring a viewpoint that otherwise might not be heard.
“I may not teach as many students any longer, but I now help shape the experiences of faculty members, the curriculum we teach, and the campus where students come to learn.”
The LSU School of Social Work (SSW) aspires to be a leading school of social work, a vibrant center of intellectual development, a leader in promoting and supporting diverse communities, and an advocate for an integrated and inclusive model of social work, all within a learning environment that supports best educational practices. The SSW offers Child and Family Studies (CFS) and Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) undergraduate degrees, MSW, online MSW, and PhD. SSW is part of the College of Human Sciences & Education.
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The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate programs, and 7 online graduate degree and/or certificate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,120 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan.
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