As a Homecoming weekend highlight, 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 — Ronn Jenkins ’65, Ed.D. Alumni and friends will gather at WCU’s Hollinger Fieldhouse, 150 University Avenue in West Chester, on Saturday, October 26, at 9 a.m. to formally cut the ribbon and officially name the “Dr. Ronn Jenkins Diving & Aquatics Center.” Joining Jenkins as he cuts the ribbon to the center will be WCU President Christopher Fiorentino, Chair of the Board of Directors of Student Services Incorporated (SSI) Bernie Carrozza’66, Vice President for Student Affairs Zebulun Davenport, and other leaders. State House Representative Dan K. Williams (74th Legislative District) 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 is made possible in part due to a generous lead gift from Student Services, Incorporated (SSI) in the amount of $350,000, as well as 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 Jenkin’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. In addition, 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 West Chester University’s most celebrated head coaches. Jenkins, who coached the West Chester University men’s and women’s diving teams for more than 40 years, has earned numerous accolades and awards, including induction into the West Chester University Athletics Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Swimming Hall of Fame, and the Chester County Hall of Fame.
Throughout his career he has held numerous 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; and membership on the National YMCA Swimming and Diving Committee from 1990-1998.
Having achieved a very successful diving career, 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 West Chester University 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 President 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.”