In Memoriam: Matthew Jenkins, 1933-2019

Matthew Jenkins, a self-made millionaire who served as acting president of Tuskegee University in Alabama, died on September 14 in Long Beach, California, from complications of heart disease. He was 85 years old.

Jenkins was born on his family’s farm in Baldwin County Alabama, in the midst of the Great Depression. As a child, after finishing his chores on the farm, he walked three miles each way to go to school. He went on to earn a doctor of veterinary medicine degree at Tuskegee University in Alabama. As a veterinary doctor, Jenkins developed an anesthetic for dogs and cats that was used around the world.

Dr. Jenkins and his wife established SDD Enterprises, a real estate investment and property management firm. This highly successful firm allowed Dr. Jenkins to turn his attention to philanthropy later in life with the establishment of the Matthew and Roberta Jenkins Family Foundation. In giving out more than $12 million in grants, the foundation helped a large number of public school and college students.

Dr. Jenkins served as a member of the Tuskegee University board of trustees and president of the Tuskegee University Foundation. Upon the sudden resignation of then-President Gilbert Rochon in 2013, Dr. Jenkins was asked to serve as acting president of Tuskegee University.

In 2017, Dr. Jenkins published the book Positive Possibilities: My Game Plan for Success (Covenant Books, 2017).


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  1. Dr. Jenkins was a man of GREAT stature. He touched the lives of so many just by simply being in his presence and his example will endure for many, many years and decades to come. We are all indebted to him for his kindness and his wisdom. He will be sorely missed by many all over the world.

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