Two earn professor emeritus status at UNCP


Drs. Charles Jenkins and Peggy Opitz were recently awarded professor emeritus status by the Board of Trustees of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Both played important roles in leading a growing regional University and were nominated for the honor by the University’s Faculty Senate, said Dr. Charles Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

“It is a distinct pleasure to see the Board of Trustees confer upon Drs. Jenkins and Opitz the title of Emeritus Professor,” Dr. Harrington said. “Each has contributed significantly to the growth and development of the University. 

“UNC Pembroke would not be the institution it is today without their dedication, contributions, and caring,” he continued. “Both are models for all faculty – excellent teachers, engaged scholars and committed citizens. Their hallmark of excellence will stand for many years to come.”


charles_jenkins.jpgDr. Charles R. Jenkins served the University in many capacities for more than 36 years with 26 years in senior administrative leadership posts. From faculty member to provost, he wore many hats including academic dean and director of admissions and student teaching.

The University achieved many milestones during Dr. Jenkins’ tenure. The University earned Comprehensive I status after launching a broad range of successful master’s degree programs. The designation allowed for significant increases in faculty salaries.

Teaching Fellows, Chancellor’s Scholars (now the Esther Maynor Honors College), the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and 15 master’s degree programs were launched under Dr. Jenkin’s leadership.

“The things I did were accomplished with the help of a lot of good people,” Dr. Jenkins said. “I will remain professionally active and continue working in the community and with the Southern Association.”

He was the first person at the University to hold the title of provost. After retiring from the position in 2000, he continues as a faculty member of the School of Education.

A Rockingham, N.C., native, Dr. Jenkins earned Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from East Carolina University and a doctorate from Duke University. He resides in Laurinburg, N.C.

A resident of Laurinburg, N.C., he serves on the Board of Directors of Scotland County Memorial Hospital and served two years as chair. He also serves on the Commission on Colleges for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.


peggy_opitz.jpgDr. Peggy G. Opitz is a pioneer in the field of nursing education and in her profession. She was founding director of UNCP’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in 1992.

At her retirement in 2004, Dr. Opitz was director of a fully accredited nursing program that was on the edge of yet another expansion. In 2003, the program won a 10-year accreditation without a single recommendation.

“I love teaching, and I realized the other day that it is what I miss the most,” she said in a recent interview. “Teaching is a very rewarding experience. Even though I am retired, I remain active and committed to several projects.” 

Jointly administered with Fayetteville State University, the new program took nursing education to a new level in the region. It was the first nursing program in North Carolina to be managed by two institutions, and it employed a relatively new start-up model with its registered nurse (RN) to BSN program.

“We designed the program for working nurses, a significant model for a rural area,” Dr. Opitz said. “We established a reputation for working collaboratively with people in the community and across campus.”

Dr. Opitz broke more ground in nursing education by opening satellite programs in Moore, Columbus, Sampson and Cumberland counties. Before retiring, she separated the program, and,as UNCP’s Nursing Department chair, laid the groundwork for the four-year pre-licensure (BSN) program that launched in 2005 and has enrolled 200 nurses.

“Our focus was to address the disparity of health care delivery in the region,” she said. “We’ve made great progress in these areas.”

Dr. Opitz also addressed the region’s health care issues as a productive grant writer. She co-authored an $8.5 million infant mortality grant and a $700,000 grant to recruit minorities into the nursing profession.

Today, she is a grant reviewer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rural Health and Minority Health task forces working with a Native American HIV/AIDS program headquartered through a faith-based group in Pembroke.

Dr. Opitz is also working as a consultant for Appalachian State University to start a RN-to-BSN program. She serves as chair of the Board of Trustees of Hospice of Laurinburg and is region president of the Col. Thomas Robeson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

A Towson, Md., native, Dr. Opitz was a member of the first graduating class in nursing at Southeastern Community College’s associate degree program. Before coming to Pembroke, she started a nursing program at North Georgia College and State University with a satellite campus in Atlanta, Ga.

After receiving a BSN degree at East Tennessee State University, she earned a Master of Science in Nursing degree from the Medical College of Georgia and doctorate in education from Virginia Tech.

She lives in Laurinburg, N.C., with her husband Armand, who is retired from UNCP’s Office for Sponsored Research and Programs.