Director of Counseling Center retires after 33 years

Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier news editor

Photo courtesy of Berry College

After dedicating 33 years to Berry’s Counseling Center, Director Marshall Jenkins retired on Tuesday. He now begins a new chapter of his life as he works to grow his private practice here in Rome. 

The decision for retiring was one that was not taken lightly as Jenkins explained. Student Activities has multiple plans for utilizing the counseling center in future programs for students that Jenkins believed he could not keep up with. The main focus of his work has always been prevention and direct counseling. These future ambitions for the director of the counseling center, as Jenkins stated, would require more administrative work that he understood would pull him away from his passions. Thus, Jenkins believed that retiring would allow him to ensure he could continue to pursue those passions. 

Many students knew Jenkins’s friendly face. He came to Berry in 1987 and began working as the director of the Counseling Center. Over his time at Berry, he started and ran the Peer Educators program, wrote and published three books and even taught a few classes on religious ethics and social psychology. 

Similar to Berry’s small college environment, Jenkins received his undergraduate degree from Davidson College. It was during his time at Davidson that Jenkins learned about his passion for helping and listening to others. 

“I had done a lot of volunteer work in high school and college as a crisis telephone volunteer, and really found my calling there,” Jenkins said. “It’s not only a calling in secular work, but in spiritual work.” 

He then continued on to the University of North Carolina, where he received his doctorate in counseling psychology and a purpose to serve a community through direct counseling and prevention programs. Jenkins discovered Berry after applying for the directorship job at the Counseling Center, and soon he was moving to Rome with a calling to help those in need. 

Originally, Jenkins wanted to focus on just working in a counseling environment without the administrative work. But after starting at Berry, Jenkins discovered the different possibilities that could expand upon his plans. His administrative work allowed him to write grants for two important programs on campus, the Peer Educators program and the NCAA Choices Grant. 

The Peer Educators program, as Jenkins stated, became one of his proudest achievements at Berry because it combined his passion for working with students on prevention methods and direct counseling. 

“It was wonderful to work with students who really wanted to step up and make a difference in their peers’ lives in a positive way,” Jenkins said. 

The Peer Educators program offers students who are passionate about serving and listening to other students a platform to work from. They develop cultural events on topics that range from prevention to how to handle stress. They write monthly “Pot Thoughts” that inform students on common themes and situations they may face in college and offer advice on how to handle these situations. As Jenkins stated, the Peer Educators program truly combined his passions into one space that he could share with students who also had the same drive for helping others. 

The second grant he wrote more recently was the NCAA Choices Grant. The NCAA Choices program allows for training programs that infuse leadership workshops with alcohol and drug prevention efforts. Jenkins understood the value of starting conversations on prevention in an environment like athletics, and strived to help students in any way possible. 

“If we can get some conversations going out there, then maybe we can prevent some of these problems like addiction and drug abuse,” Jenkins said. 

But after looking back on 33 years of hard work, Jenkins believed that the most memorable moments he had on campus where the ones he could never talk about due to the confidentiality between himself and his students in the therapy. 

“The vulnerability and the heroism and the beauty of getting to know students through the intimate ways of therapy, that’s the main thing that stands out to me,” Jenkins said. 

With a new chapter of his life ahead of him, Jenkins looks forward to beginning the process of growing his practice in Rome. He plans to continue visiting the campus and helping out wherever he is needed, whether that is with the Peer Educators or speaking to students through the Chaplains Office. 

The college has not yet decided on who Jenkin’s replacement will be, due to the recent nature of Jenkins’ decision. Associate director of the Counseling Center Terri Cordle will stand in as director until a decision has been made.

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