In Marion Jenkins’ 34-year career at Whitworth, she, like Estella Baldwin, influenced hundreds of students, and had a particular mission for the women of Whitworth. She arrived at Whitworth in 1931 and shortly thereafter began to advise the Pirettes, a women’s pep and service organization. Three years later she earned her bachelor’s degree from Whitworth. Her most notable role on campus was as dean of women, serving along with Baldwin as one of Dean Francis T. Hardwick’s trusted colleagues. After her office was absorbed by the dean of students’ office, in 1963, she became associate dean of students.
During her early years as dean, Jenkins filled additional roles as counselor, housemother and leader in a broad range of religious and social activities. Eventually, she gathered a corps of seven full-time counselors for the women’s residence halls. She also advised the Whitworth Women’s Conference, an annual retreat that, along with the Whitworth Men’s Conference, grew in vitality and importance during President Warren’s era, building religious life and creating bonds among students. A number of Whitworth’s men remember calling on “Mommy Jenkins’” for practical advice regarding the women they wanted to marry.
Jenkins received her master’s degree from New York University, and, during a 1955 sabbatical from Whitworth, she taught at Lebanon’s Beirut College for Women. In 1964 she was one of only seven women to be delegates to the World Presbyterian Alliance, in Frankfurt, Germany.
Upon her retirement, in 1965, Jenkins was the recipient of the Whitworth Alumni Distinguished Service Award; and for her contributions to the institution and to her chosen field, the board of trustees also awarded her an honorary doctorate.