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Otterbein Towers: Jerry Jenkins - Legacy of Chemistry

Otterbein Towers: Jerry Jenkins - Legacy of Chemistry


Editor's Note: This and other stories appear in the Summer 2017 edition of Otterbein Towers Magazine, available online now.

The Science Lecture Series, the plus-minus grading system and the cum laude system can all be traced back to Jerry Jenkins, who taught Otterbein students organic chemistry for 43 years. Jenkins, however, considers growing the Department of Chemistry from three professors with doctorates to four — which allowed the department to apply for accreditation by the American Chemical Society — and then to six with terminal degrees, as one of his greater achievements during his 25-year tenure as chair of the department. He retired in 2015.

“I think that was an important contribution to the credibility of our program in chemistry,” Jenkins said. “Like most fields, there is a lot of diversification in chemistry. There are five major subfields. You really need five or six professors to have representation in each of those specialty areas.”

“Teaching and challenging students how to problem solve are the long-term benefits of what I have been able to do in teaching organic chemistry,” Jenkins said. “Students who do well in organic chemistry learn skills that assist them getting through advanced degree programs.”

“Dr. Jenkins was smart and challenging,” said Melanie Butera ’81, DVM, one of four siblings who attended Otterbein, had Jenkins for organic chemistry and went on to medical careers (see Spring 2016 Otterbein Towers). “He made you dig deep and study hard.” Her sister, Dr. Sally Dillehay, said Dr. Jenkins was the best professor she ever had. “He spurred my love of science. The problem-solving skills he taught me have stuck with me.”

Read the entire Summer 2017 edition of Otterbein Towers Magazine online now.