Molly Jenkins, who has served as instructor and advisor of TRIO Student Support Services at California, has accepted the position of director of grants and special projects in PennWest University’s Office of Advancement.

In this position, Jenkins will provide oversight to all aspects of research and sponsored programs, on and off PennWest’s three campuses. To increase the capacity and competitiveness of PennWest, Jenkins will support faculty and staff in proposal identification, development, data collection, submission, compliance, and reporting, working closely with partners at the IUP Research Institute.

“Through my experience at PennWest California, I know first hand the life-changing impact that grant-funded programs can have on students, their families and our community,” Jenkins said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to grow and support these programs across our campuses.”

Science in Motion at Clarion

As a faculty member in TRIO Student Support Services, Jenkins led a team that helps students achieve their educational goals by providing counseling, financial and economic literacy, peer-to-peer supports, personal development workshops, graduate school preparation and cultural trips.

Funded at California since the 1960s through the U.S. Department of Education, TRIO programs assist first-generation college students in completing their degree through individualized student support.

Prior to joining TRIO, Jenkins was the program coordinator for the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training and Opioid Workforce Expansion Program in the graduate counseling and Master of Social Work programs at California. In this position, Jenkins managed the day-to-day operation of $3.5 million in federal funding. Focused on increasing the behavioral health workforce, these programs provided $10,000 stipends to over 200 graduate students, as well as a variety of training opportunities for behavioral health professionals throughout the region.

This summer, Jenkins worked with the Science in Motion program on the Clarion campus. Funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the program brings state-of-the-art science equipment and instruction to secondary classrooms. Dr. Karen Spuck, from PennWest’s College of Education, works closely with local science teachers to provide access to adequate instructional resources, effective professional development opportunities and development of effective secondary science curricula.

PennWest Edinboro's Center for Branding and Strategic Communication

Jenkins also worked closely with Chris Lantinen from PennWest Edinboro's Center for Branding and Strategic Communication. The Center is part of the Northwest Pennsylvania Innovation Beehive Network, which brings together the strengths of five Erie and Crawford County university and library-based innovation centers to support the growth of businesses in northwestern Pennsylvania.

PennWest Edinboro students, faculty and staff collaborate to complete design, branding, marketing and social media projects at no cost to regional entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations. Funding is provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission and Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority. In 2022, the PennWest Edinboro Beehive served 43 local clients. In 2023, they’re on pace to serve 50.

In the State System’s Redesign Accelerator, Jenkins supports Dr. Josh Domitrovich, executive director of PennWest’s career center, to conduct a mixed methods study to understand and define student centeredness. Nearly 1,000 students, staff, faculty and managers participated in surveys and focus groups to aid in creating a definition of student centeredness for PennWest. At the end of August, the team will present findings to university leadership to help strengthen PennWest’s strategic plan.

Jenkins earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in English at West Virginia University and completed her master’s degree in child psychology at Duquesne University. She is currently a doctoral candidate at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she is studying administration and leadership.

In addition to her role with the Office of Advancement, Jenkins is an adjunct professor at Waynesburg University, focusing on grant writing and research. She has also worked with West Virginia University School of Public Health on grant-funded programs to address homelessness.

Jenkins resides in Grafton, West Virginia, with her husband, Matt.