Dr. Jenny Penney Oliver was a champion of the poor and oppressed, an inspirational friend, and a beloved teacher. An alumna of NC State, where she was one of the first Resident Directors of the Alexander International House, Jenny strove to increase understanding and acceptance among different cultures, particularly among students. Her work at the University of Georgia and Kansas State University included international collaborations funded by a significant grant from the Ford Foundation. Jenny not only thought globally, she acted globally. But, she also acted locally. As a faculty member at UGA’s College of Education, she developed partnerships with local school districts and volunteered tirelessly with city and county governments. Jenny’s effectiveness in bringing about critically important change was due to her indomitable spirit, her ability to organize efforts strategically, her sense of humor, stylish flair, and the genuine love and caring she displayed to everyone around her. She was a role model to four decades of students, as well as her friends and their families.
Jenny was a faculty member in the UGA Department of Counseling and Human Development Services for more than 20 years. She was honored with the Outstanding Alumni Award from North Carolina State University’s College of Education in 2004, the First Annual University of Georgia Diversity Award in 2004, and the President’s Fulfilling the Dream Award at UGA’s Freedom Breakfast in 2009. The College of Education’s Faculty Diversity Award was renamed the Jenny Penney Oliver Diversity Award, and she was its first recipient in 2013. Jenny died of cancer in June, 2013 at the age of 58. I would not be who or where I am today without her influence on me as a person and a professional.