About Sandy Jenks

Weston M. "Sandy" Jenks founded the Leadership Training Group in 1967 to prepare students for leadership roles in groups and organizations. This group was soon rebranded as the Paraprofessional Leader Group (PLG). Jenks was strongly influenced by the work of Robert Greenleaf (Servant Leadership) and John Gardner (author, presidential advisor, and founder of Common Cause). In 1992, on the occasion of the PLG's 25th anniversary, the program was renamed the Jenks Leadership Program in his honor. The focus today continues to be on leadership in service to others.

Jenks founded the Office of Counseling Services at Boston College and served as its Director for 21 years. He was a counselor and confidante to scores of Boston College students during a career that spanned 47 years, beginning when he arrived as a freshman at age 16, in 1941.

Below is a piece from the 'Our Towne' section of the Boston Globe, from June 2, 1988.

Farewell to a BC legend

Jack Thomas,The Boston Globe
June 2, 1988

The most passionate event is death, and the least emotional writing, ironically, is the obituary, so that when Weston Jenks died in his sleep of cancer a few weeks ago at 64, it was reported matter-of-factly that he was a native of Waterbury, Conn., that his 40-year career at Boston College had begun as a freshman at age 16, that he had earned three degrees, commanded an attack boat in the South Pacific during World War II, and returned to BC, where he taught poetry and composition and founded the College Writer's Workshop and a counseling office of 10 psychologists who help thousands of students each year.

But there was more to Jenks, or "Sandy," as he was known to friends and colleagues who gathered after his funeral at St. Ignatius Church, and than again a few days later to dedicate a library in his name at Gasson Hall, for he was, by unanimous agreement, an exceptional teacher of intellect, imagination, energy and, above all, compassion. He devoted most of his attention to students learning to write - among them George V. Higgins and Ed Hannibal - or those who were troubled emotionally. Oddly, he never wrote for publication, for although devoted to the written word, he found creative writing, even the composing of a memo, to be devilishly difficult. "He was so acutely aware of the weight of each word and the need to craft it," said a friend, Dr. David John Smith, "that he was sometimes not able to sit down and write a letter."

He loved literature, conversation, political cartoons, Noel Coward and E.B. White. He enjoyed the funny pages, vacations at Boothbay Harbor, browsing in bookstores or antique shops, and puns, which he considered a clever use of the language. He was a swimmer, sailor and sports fan, with season tickets to BC football, basketball and hockey. He was partial to Rob Roys, backyard barbecues and Athens Olympia restaurant.

In clothing, he was traditional, and, at Symphony Hall or a Celtics game, favored suits. In the '60s, when neckties were thought of as politically hostile, Sandy resisted a temptation to win the favor of students by dressing down, and it was common, even in rebellious years, to see him in a three-piece suit in conversation with a campus radical in hippie dress. Sandy was not a man to blow with the wind, and students buffeted by confusion and contradiction saw him as an anchor, particularly during the social hurricanes of the '60s.

He was never on time, and students who saw him racing across campus would laugh in knowledge Sandy was late again. Alumni who invited him home learned it was imprudent to begin cooking until he arrived. He lived longer than doctors expected, not as long as his friends hoped. He was a man of deep faith, and from diagnosis until death in May, he went through the denial, anger, and finally an acceptance of death, although never resignation. Told there was no point in further treatment, that it was time to go home and die, he said he was prepared, but not in a hurry, and when it came, it would be OK, because he had lived a full life.

Next September, students will have to find someone else to ease homesickness, interpret Yeats, explain Vivaldi, define gerunds and teach Midwesterners how to eat lobster. Someone else will have to straighten out resumes and applications for grad school, and students on drugs will have to look elsewhere for help, which is too bad, for Sandy Jenks would have made it easier.