Benjamin P. “Ben” Jenkins III, of Charlotte, has been honored with the 2016 Darrell and Carolyn Menscer Cup, the North Carolina State University Foundation’s highest award for philanthropy, dedication and leadership on behalf of NC State.
Jenkins – a driving force behind the success of Poole College of Management, among his many contributions – received the award Dec. 8 during a dinner held in Hunt Library’s Duke Energy Hall. The presentation was made by Chancellor Randy Woodson and Trent Ragland, chair of the foundation’s board of directors.
Support from Jenkins, Woodson said, has played a critical role in establishing a world-class business school that is climbing in the rankings and preparing students for success.
“In 2007, what’s now Poole College of Management was just getting started – only 15 years old,” the chancellor said during the award ceremony. “But Ben Jenkins saw something in the college’s vision for managing innovation and technology in business and industry. He believed in its focus on entrepreneurship, leadership and real-world education for a global marketplace, and in its potential to spur economic development.”
“The Jenkins Graduate School of Management and the entire college haven’t looked back.”
The NC State University Foundation created the Menscer Cup in 1997 to honor Darrell and Carolyn Menscer for “exemplary leadership of advancement efforts.” While chairing the foundation and co-chairing the Campaign for NC State Students, Darrell Menscer led efforts in university fundraising, endowment management and alumni service. Each year, the cup goes to an individual or family that has made a major impact through “above and beyond” service and generosity.
Woodson outlined Jenkins’ impact at NC State, highlighted by his lead gift and his commitment to the College of Management – a transformational endorsement that helped inspire others to support the college through their gifts and volunteer service.
Jenkins is a current member and past chair of the NC State Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Marianne, are generous members of NC State’s W. J. Peele Lifetime Giving Society.
Three of Poole College of Management’s 11 endowed faculty positions carry the Jenkins name: Dr. Jim Nason, Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Economics; Dr. Jon Carr, Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship; and Dr. Joe Brazel, Jenkins Distinguished Professor of Accounting.
In addition, the Jenkinses’ lead gifts, matched with support from Wells Fargo, created the college’s two largest endowed scholarship and fellowship funds. Each year, these funds provide financial support to an average of eight undergraduate and six graduate students.
The Jenkinses continue to support the Jenkins Graduate Endowment and have provided general support for the college, NCSU Libraries, the Wolfpack Club and special projects including the Chancellor’s Residence.
At the Dec. 8 event, Ben Jenkins spoke about growing up in the Piedmont. His father, a 1938 NC State graduate, worked for the NC Cooperative Extension Service. The family regularly attended NC State football games at Riddick Stadium and basketball games at Reynolds Coliseum, and young Ben attended 4H summer camps. From a young age, he felt like he was part of an NC State family.
Jenkins earned his bachelor’s degree in textile chemistry from the university in 1968 – establishing lifelong friendships and learning the value of hard work and preparation along the way, he said – and his MBA from the University of Alabama in 1971.
Almost 30 years later, he reconnected with NC State and became a co-chair of the College of Management’s Achieve Campaign Steering Committee
“In that campaign effort, I learned so much more about our university, I developed a strong opinion about what a good business school could mean to NC State and I learned the importance of private fundraising for this university,” Jenkins said. He and his wife were happy to be in a position to support NC State and believed they could make a difference. “And you know, it’s one of those things you look back on and say, ‘Boy, I sure am glad I did that.’ I do love NC State. It means a lot to me. It’s been a part of me for a long time.”
Jenkins also spoke about the optimism and sense of pride he feels about the university’s future. His excitement stems, he said, from an outstanding leadership team and growing success in building a culture of philanthropy through efforts including the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign. Private giving, he said, plays a critical role in offsetting the past few years’ reductions in public funding for higher education and enables “game changing investments” in students, faculty and infrastructure.
“I suspect that this room is filled with people who believe that even with all that this university has accomplished, our best days are still ahead of us – by a factor of two. I know that I feel this way,” Jenkins said.
The former vice chairman and president of the General Banking Group of Wachovia Corporation, Jenkins is a member of the Capital One Financial Corporation Board of Directors; is an advisory partner with Fennebresque and Company; is a former managing director and vice chairman for retail banking for Morgan Stanley; and has held leadership positions with First Union banks.
In addition to his financial generosity and service as a trustee, Jenkins has served on the Board of Visitors; as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund; as a member of the Graduate School Advisory Board; as honorary chair of the 4-H Gala; and as a member of the PCOM Dean Nomination Committee. Jenkins, honored as the College of Management Person of the Year in 2008, has volunteered as a judge for the college’s student showcase program.
He is a lifetime member of the Friends of the Library, a member of the Alumni Association and a member of Sigma Nu fraternity.
Beyond NC State, he has held board and trustee roles with Queens University, Communities in Schools-Charlotte, Presbyterian Hospital, the Charlotte Symphony and the Mecklenburg Arts & Sciences Council. The Jenkinses have provided gifts to these groups and to many other education, arts and historic organizations such as the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Girl Scouts Hornets Nest Council, the Mint Museum and the Royal Oak Foundation.
Along with NC State Foundation board members, guests at the Menscer Cup event included members of the Board of Trustees, former cup recipients, university deans and executive officers, students from the Jenkins Graduate School and other friends of NC State.
The NC State Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that furthers the university’s land-grant mission and strategic goals through fund-raising, the acceptance of private gifts, and the management of endowments and investments.