Kelvin Jacobs, an experienced attorney with a strong commitment to serving the community, has been named general counsel at UNC Pembroke.
Jacobs joined UNCP in 2015 as assistant general counsel. In that role, he provided legal advice to academic and administrative offices across campus, negotiated university contracts and oversaw grievance proceedings. In October 2019, he was asked to serve as the university’s interim general counsel.
Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings recently recommended Jacobs for the permanent role, and the decision was unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees.
“I’m extremely pleased to officially welcome Kelvin as general counsel. Since October, he’s served in the interim position and has provided invaluable perspective and leadership as we’ve navigated through some of the more challenging times for our university,” Cummings said.
“With Kelvin’s legal expertise, combined with his longstanding knowledge of and passion for UNCP, I am certain he will continue to serve well and with distinction.”
As UNCP’s chief counsel, Jacobs is responsible for advising administrators, officials and the Board of Trustees on a variety of legal matters, including compliance with university policies and state and federal laws, civil and contract issues, employment matters and public safety.
In his new role, Jacobs says he has the opportunity to combine a life’s passion for his work with the love of his home community and university.
“I’m humbled and honored to be selected by Chancellor Cummings for this position. I truly appreciate his vote of confidence, and I consider it a great privilege to serve my alma mater in this capacity,” Jacobs said.
A Hope Mills native and member of the Lumbee Tribe, Jacobs has always been passionate about public and community service. The youngest in his family, he was the third of his siblings to attend UNCP where he earned a degree in criminal justice. Immediately upon graduation, Jacobs was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He served five years on active duty, rising to the rank of captain as a missile launch officer and training instructor.
Following his successful military career, he returned to home to North Carolina and gained more than 10 years of experience in pharmaceutical sales. During this time, he quickly got involved with charitable organizations in the region, serving in several volunteer roles while working full time.
While happy and successful, Jacobs felt it was time to do something more. Reflecting on his life’s dedication to service and a long-standing interest in criminal justice, he decided it was time to pursue his law degree.
“My decision to enroll in law school came with age and maturity. I was ready for a career rebirth and practicing law has always piqued my interest. I studied criminal justice in college and it always stuck with me. This transition came during a stage in my life where I had the perfect opportunity to forgo working full time and embrace my passion.”
A recipient of the Julian T. Pierce Scholarship, Jacobs earned his law degree from North Carolina Central University and worked as a staff attorney in the Pembroke office of Legal Aid of North Carolina, a nonprofit law firm that provides legal services in civil matters to low-income individuals, until 2015 when his career path brought him home to UNCP.
Jacobs still enjoys giving back to those who helped him establish his legal career as a member of the Julian T. Pierce Scholarship Committee. His is also an active supporter of student scholarship at UNCP participating with a group of alumni to establish and endow the Air Force ROTC Endowed Scholarship.
In addition to his work in the Office of the General Counsel and service to scholarship, he also serves on the North Carolina Bar Association’s Education Law Section Council.
Jacobs shares a stepson, Dylan, with his wife, Tonya, and they also have two dogs who they love and enjoy.