Robert Jennings (Chris Barber)

On Jan. 2, Robert Jennings took the reins at Lincoln University in what he called a very smooth transition from his predecessor, Ivory Nelson. With his appointment, Jennings becomes the 13th president of the historically black university just outside of Oxford.

Jennings, 61, who was born and raised in Atlanta, was chosen in November by the Board of Trustees’ search committee from among 55 applicants and three finalists.

He said he had never been to Lincoln before he applied for the position, but when the seat was advertised colleagues urged him to send in his resume because he seemed suited for the job. After he researched the school and talked to people, he was convinced it was a “great school” and he pursued the position.

Seeing Lincoln for the first time, he was struck by all the construction and renovation going on and was glad it was Nelson, not himself, who had completed all the legwork for getting the work under way.

“When this is said and done, it’s going to be a great campus. … Thank God he set the wheels in motion and got us through the drawing board,” he said.

Jennings said he fully embraces Nelson’s vision of a modern, pedestrian campus, inasmuch as it helps with student safety and the beauty of the area. He added that three or four buildings need to be renovated, and he would like to see the transformation of a campus building into a center where alumni can stay overnight.

Jennings comes to Lincoln University from his most recent position as an administrator for Gems Inc. in Union City, Ga., a learning academy serving children 6 to 12 years old and personal care for adults and seniors with special needs.

In the course of his career, he has also been president of Alabama A&M University, vice president of Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University and vice chancellor for development at North Carolina A&T State University.

He also worked for presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reporting to Congress on issues of age, sex and race discrimination.

Jennings sees Lincoln University as a school with a modern physical plant, a strong faculty and loyal support employees. His is especially fond of the department of mass communications and has plans to talk with his students and faculty about expanding the program.

More information can be found at Southern Chester Counties Weeklies.