OPINION: JSU’s 13th President Don Killingsworth is ‘caring, driven and understanding’

President Don Killingsworth signs MOU with Drake State Community and Technical College in the Gold Room of Bibb Graves. (Grace Cockrell/JSU)President Don Killingsworth signs MOU with Drake State Community and Technical College in the Gold Room of Bibb Graves. (Grace Cockrell/JSU)

Logan Irwin, Correspondent

The number thirteen is usually perceived as THE unlucky number. Hotels don’t even have thirteenth floors, for the sake of worrying superstitious guests and keeping them from staying in their buildings. The horror franchise known as “Friday the 13th” still to this day makes us fret and question what things will go wrong as we approach perhaps the most unlucky date of the year. 

The word “unlucky” doesn’t come to mind when speaking of Jacksonville State University’s thirteenth president, Dr. Don Killingsworth, though. Words more like, “caring, driven and understanding” are more along the lines of the words in the picture here. Dr. Killingsworth was named president of the university back in June of 2020. He had previously been serving as the acting president since October of last year. Dr. Killingsworth is a two-time graduate of JSU, and also served as the SGA president during his time as a student on campus. 

It’s hard for me to imagine what it was like to take on such a prestigious role, much less taking on this role amidst a global pandemic. Dr. Killingsworth has done so with so much grace. 

I work at the Chick-fil-A off-campus here in Jacksonville. Dr. Killingsworth is a frequent customer in the mornings for breakfast. I can remember one of my very first encounters with him at the drive thru window this summer.  He had no way of knowing I was a student, but saw my name tag with the words, “Future Educator” listed below my name. He told me I was headed down a very rewarding path, and took time out of his day to listen about my future plans, even if it was just a small conversation while waiting on his food. It meant a lot to me, and allowed me a bit of insight as to what a great new addition we were about to add to JSU.

Dr. Killingsworth has been able to allow students to still have a good time on campus, while still following the recommended CDC guidelines for slowing or stopping the spread of COVID-19. College students are not always the easiest people to deal with, but it is quite evident that he is doing all he can to provide a fun, safe, and memorable college experience for students at JSU. He hosted an event outside The President’s House as a part of “Welcome Week” last week, called “Cookies with the President”. Students were able to stop by, have some delicious cookies during breaks from class and ask any questions they might have had or chat with Dr. Killingsworth, all while remaining socially distanced. It is obvious that the safety and well-being of students and staff are his top priority, and that is very important to a student like me, who will have students of my own one day. 

Dr. Killingsworth is leading by a great example that I hope to follow throughout my time at JSU, and even beyond that, in my future classroom. I applaud him, and wish him success at Jacksonville State and beyond. May we all learn from his successful leadership through the crazy year that has been 2020, and only continue to grow stronger from this point on.

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