As a highlight of homecoming weekend, West Chester University will celebrate a living legend in the sport of diving and the first African-American head coach of the university’s men’s and women’s diving teams: Dr. Ronn Jenkins, a member of WCU’s Class of 1965.
Alumni and friends will gather at Hollinger Fieldhouse, located at 150 University Avenue, on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 9 AM to formally cut the ribbon and officially name the “Dr. Ronn Jenkins Diving & Aquatics Center.”
Joining Jenkins as he cuts the ribbon will be WCU President Christopher Fiorentino, Chair of the Board of Directors of Student Services Incorporated (SSI) Bernie Carrozza, Vice President for Student Affairs Zebulun Davenport, and other leaders. State Rep. Dan Williams will also be on-hand to present a special citation in honor of the trailblazer’s dedication and service to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to West Chester University.
The renovated diving and aquatics center was made possible in part due to a generous lead gift from SSI in the amount of $350,000, as well as gifts from Anne Saris Stevenson, Ph.D., Mr. and Mrs. Steven Rutherford, and many other donors. Recognizing the importance of renovating the pool area to serve generations of WCU divers, the SSI Board of Directors was excited to invest in recognizing Jenkins’s long-time service to the university, as well as its student-athletes.
The renovated Hollinger facility now boasts a state-of-the-art environment for both diving teams, spectators, and recreational swimmers; several areas comprise the renovated space. A pool room provides a professional diving sport arena with refinished floors and walls, renovated pool walls and floor, welcoming visitor entrance doors, rejuvenated NCAA-approved diving equipment, and more. In addition to an efficient workspace for coaching, the coach’s office provides a professional environment for mentoring and performance review. Also, a women’s team locker room complements the renovated space and provides an efficient changing and showering area.
The renovated center bears the name of one of WCU’s most celebrated head coaches. Jenkins, who coached the men’s and women’s diving teams for more than 40 years, has earned numerous accolades and awards, including induction into the WCU Athletics Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Swimming Hall of Fame, and the Chester County Hall of Fame.
Throughout his career, he has held several positions of honor, including:
- coordinator of diving officials for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta
- coordinator of diving officials for the 1995 World Games in Atlanta
- chairperson of the U.S. Diving Committee on Diversity from 1991-94
- membership on the NCAA Swimming & Diving Committee from 1995-99
- membership on the National YMCA Swimming and Diving Committee from 1990-1998
As a student-athlete, he earned a PSAC individual diving title, captured a Mid-Atlantic Conference diving championship, was named the Middle Atlantic Conference’s most outstanding athlete in 1964, and earned two Junior Olympic national titles in the early 1960s.
Graduating from WCU in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Kinesiology, he earned his Master’s Degree in Counseling from Bucknell University in 1971, while coaching its diving team, and his Doctoral Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981.
“Dr. Jenkins has set an example for all of us to follow, including the next generation of student-athletes,” said Fiorentino. “His willingness to make a difference in students’ lives is testament to his character and generosity. Thanks to this transformative gift from SSI and the support of other donors, including the Jenkins family, we will be able to offer new opportunities to our student-athletes for a number of years to come.”