Virginia McIntire Names Nicole Thorne Jenkins As New Dean

Nicole Thorne Jenkins will be dean of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce beginning July 1, 2020. Courtesy photo

The University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce announced today (May 6) that beginning July 1, it’s next dean will be Nicole Thorne Jenkins. Currently the vice dean of the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics, Jenkins will succeed Carl Zeithaml, who has been dean of the McIntire School for more than two decades. Jenkins will be the McIntire School’s second woman dean. The other was Bonnie Guiton Hill, who led the school from 1992 to 1996.

“Nicole is a forward-looking leader with a deep understanding of how business and business education are changing. She is energized by finding creative responses to these challenges and brings the deep operational knowledge needed to translate innovative ideas into institutional realities,” UVA Provost Elizabeth “Liz” Magill said in the announcement from the school. “Nicole is well-positioned to continue McIntire’s tradition of innovation and to lead the school’s next chapter of success.”

An accounting professor, Jenkins has been vice dean at the Gatton College since 2016. She’s been at the University of Kentucky since 2012 where she is also the Von Allmen Chaired Professor of Accountancy. In her role as vice dean, Jenkins oversaw all faculty and academic departments. She also worked on diversity and inclusion efforts as well as the school’s finance and budgeting, IT, HR, and alumni relations.

“Nicole is an outstanding scholar, an exceptional leader and a valued colleague,” University of Kentucky Provost David W. Blackwell said in the announcement, which came from the McIntire School. “I had the pleasure of working with her when I served as dean of the Gatton College of Business and Economics, and I have continued to be impressed by her productivity in research, her servant leadership as an administrator and her commitment to her students. I’m confident that the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce will have a bright future with her as dean.”


Prior to her time at the University of Kentucky, Jenkins served as an accounting professor at Vanderbilt University and Washington University in St. Louis, where she spent five years each. Before earning her Ph.D. in accounting from the University of Iowa, she worked for four years as an auditor at PwC.

As vice dean at the Gatton College, Jenkins has helped with the formulation of multiple joint degree programs, collaborating with the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering at the University of Kentucky. She was also instrumental in launching new certificate programs as well as programs at the undergraduate and masters level. According to the announcement from the McIntire School, Jenkins has also worked throughout her career to make business education more diverse and inclusive, launching mentoring programs and targeted recruiting efforts for women, first-generation students, and underrepresented students.

“Nicole’s talent for fostering communities in which all members feel a sense of belonging and support stood out to all of us involved with the search,” said search co-chair Professor Amanda Cowen. “It is also clear the importance that she places on collaborative partnerships between faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the broader university. These values make her a wonderful fit with the McIntire culture and a great choice to lead our community.”


To be sure, Virginia McIntire is getting a leader experienced at handling big projects. In her four brief years as vice dean, Jenkins has spearheaded the Gatton College’s strategic plan while also designing and implementing a new college-wide financial reporting system. She has also been a leader in fundraising for faculty research, staff development, and scholarships as well as creating new avenues for alumni engagement.

“Nicole is a brilliant choice,” Simon Sheather, dean of the Gatton College of Business and Economics said in the release from the McIntire School. “She is a transformational leader, mentor and friend who brings a diverse set of experiences to this deanship. Nicole has been an important voice, and source of ideas and inspiration, to me in my two years here at the University of Kentucky, and I am confident that she will bring that same vision and set of skills, and more, as dean of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce.”

Rick Netemeyer, who is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor of Free Enterprise at the McIntire School and was a member of the search committee that helped hire Jenkins added: “Nicole believes that fostering research and building thought leadership is central to the mission of top business schools. She is excited about continuing to elevate McIntire’s research profile and to supporting high-quality work that impacts academia, industry, and society.”


No doubt, Jenkins has big shoes to fill. Zeithaml has not only been dean for 23 years, but he’s truly led the McIntire School into one of the preeminent undergraduate business schools in the country.

“I am incredibly grateful to Carl Zeithaml for his leadership of McIntire over more than two decades, as well as for his advice and counsel – including during this pandemic,” UVA President Jim Ryan said in the school’s announcement. “Carl has transformed McIntire, and I firmly believe that Nicole has the talent and experience to build on that legacy and lead McIntire to even greater heights. I very much look forward to working with her.”

Jenkins has had an interest in business since growing up in Maryland when she worked on her family’s farm and for her parent’s trash company. At age 10, Jenkins began helping her parents with billing, processing deposits, and preparing documents for auditors.

“My family and I are excited to be joining the University of Virginia community and look forward to moving to Grounds in the near future,” Jenkins said. “As a leader in business education, the McIntire School of Commerce has a well-deserved reputation for excellence built upon a foundation of uniquely designed and rigorous programs, an accomplished faculty, a highly skilled administration and exceptional students. It is my privilege to join this outstanding community and collaborate with them to build upon the many points of pride that are the McIntire School of Commerce and UVA.”

Jenkins will be moving to Charlottesville from Kentucky with her husband and two teenagers.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nicole to the McIntire School and the broader UVA community,” said Board of Visitors member and President of the McIntire Foundation Board John A. Griffin. “As McIntire approaches its centennial anniversary, Nicole brings invaluable experience from both the industry and academic worlds and will lead us forward as we build on our reputation as one of the best business programs in higher education.”


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