MURFREESBORO — Jerry F. Jackson of Shelby, Chowan’s president
from 1989 to 1995, died April 2 at Mecklenburg Healthcare Center in Charlotte
after a lengthy illness.
Jackson is survived by his wife Carolyn Grace Laughlin and
their two children, Jami and West, and two grandchildren.
The 20th president of then-Chowan College, Jerry Francis
Jackson was born in Clinton on Oct. 1, 1938. Attending Mars Hill College,
Jackson received his A.A. in 1958 and his B.A. degree in 1960, and in 1961,
Jackson earned his M.S. degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale,
Ill. In 1988, he earned a Doctorate in Education from the University of South
Carolina, with additional postgraduate studies at East Carolina University, N.C.
State University and the University of Cincinnati.
Jackson has had a distinguished career blending his love for
education with his strong faith. As a faculty member in history and political science
at Campbell University in Buies Creek, Jackson advanced to assistant to the academic
dean and to dean of students and director of admissions. Jackson also served as
director of development with Sampson Technical College in Clinton before moving
on to become vice president of advancement at Wingate University and later, vice
president for development with the Foreign Mission Board (now International
Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention in Richmond, Va. In 1989,
Jackson was named president of Chowan College.
“The Chowan family mourns with the Jacksons. We are indeed
grateful for his past leadership,” said current Chowan University President
Chris White of his personal friend and professional colleague for many years.
“Through his leadership, Chowan returned to four-year status and significant
property was acquired to house the Jenkins Center and now Reed Hall.”
Perhaps the most important decision of Jackson’s six-year
tenure at Chowan was the formal transition from a junior college awarding associates
degrees to a four-year senior college eligible to award baccalaureate degrees,
which was voted into approval by the Trustees in 1990.
Expansion also marked Jackson’s presidential tenure through
the acquisition of additional acreage for athletics surrounding the Helms
Center on Union Street and the purchase of what now houses the Jenkins Wellness
Center and the new Reed Hall on Lakewood Drive. Jackson also increased the
number of female trustees on Chowan’s Board, and Elaine Myers of Ahoskie became
the first woman to serve as Chowan’s Chair of the Trustees under Jackson’s
presidency in 1994.
Also hallmarking his tenure, Jackson began the Ambassadors
program to highlight campus student leaders who excelled academically to host
special activities and campus events as a way to set the tone for moral values
and spiritual life on campus. Jackson strove to emphasis the importance of
Chowan’s quality of student life and student retention and development of
academic support services, even going so far as to travel the roads himself to
visit students, schools, and guidance counselors.
In 1991, a scholarship was established in honor of Carolyn
Jackson’s parents, the James Marion and Grace G. Laughlin Scholarship, and all
gifts to Chowan University to honor the passing of Jerry Jackson can go to
support this endowment.
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