SUU In View (Alumni Magazine - Spring 2002)
HONING HIS "SHOT"
Jack Jenks discovers how, at SUU, things just come together
Jack Jenks, who assumed the position of executive director of development at SUU in January, is an avid racquetball player. He was the Utah State "C" Champion in 1985, has won two gold medals at the Huntsman World Senior Games, and plays whenever the opportunity arises.
When presented with the theory that the skills necessary to excel in the sport are comparable to those needed to succeed in fund-raising, Jack admits that there is some validity to the idea.
Among the most important skills of successful racquetball-playing is being able to react quickly to your partner's shot, and then set up your own next shot.
And, this translates fairly well to fund-raising, too, Jack submits. "A successful fund-raiser must prepare well in the various steps in building relationships with potential donors, and he/she must be responsive to prospect needs."
Jack, 61, has been a successful fund-raiser for 15 years. Most recently, he was the director of development at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Simply put, he likes fund-raising for higher education because, he says, "the work environment is uplifting; it's working with people who wish, with no thought of getting something back, to give to help others."
He's excited to be at SUU. "I have always had a very high regard for SUU and its traditions. I like the idea that it is a close-knit community. It's more personal here and it's a pleasure to pass students on campus who smile and establish eye contact."
It is Jack's task to marshal the successful completion of SUU's $42 million capital campaign, which is now in the final stretch. When potential donors see the good the University does and the needs that it has, and ask-"How can I help?"-Jack always has an answer for them. He sees his task as life-changing for any number of people. "Education is the life-blood of our society."
Fund-raising attracts him because, he says, "it allows me to deal with some of the best people on earth; people who will share what they have with something that will outlast them. Fund-raising allows one to develop life-long friendships with people who understand that when they make a contribution they are helping others."
Perhaps the most satisfying feeling he gets, he explains, is when people thank him for the privilege of making a gift.
"Donors don't want to merely make a gift and walk away," he says, "but want to stay connected to the University; involved in the progress of the Institution. Not only do they enrich the lives of untold students, but their lives, too, are enriched by their partnership with the University." So, Jack asserts, he's not merely in the business of fund-raising, but "friend-raising."
Jack and his wife Sharon have, between them, 10 children and 19 grandchildren.
Their daughter, Mandi, hopes to be an actor. Jack reveals, "We're expecting that (Utah Shakespearean Festival Founding Producer) Fred Adams will weave his spell over her and that she'll attend SUU."
That, he says, will serve to further strengthen his ties to and knowledge of the University. And, speaking of serving, he'll continue to enjoy the racquetball courts in the donor-sponsored J. L. Sorenson Physical Education Building.
Interesting how, at SUU, some things just seem to come together.