He came to UAlbany following 34 years at the University of Minnesota, where he had most recently served as senior vice president for academic administration at the University of Minnesota System since 2004. Before that, Jones spent more than 15 years in key administrative leadership positions at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, including vice president and executive vice provost for faculty and academic programs, vice president for campus life and vice provost for faculty and academic personnel, interim vice president for student development and president of the University of Minnesota Outreach, Research and Education (UMore) Park Development, LLC.
A native of Dawson, Georgia, Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master of science degree in crop physiology from the University of Georgia, and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. After earning the Ph.D., he joined the University of Minnesota faculty as a professor of agronomy and plant genetics. He is an internationally recognized authority on plant physiology and has published numerous scientific papers, manuscripts and abstracts. His research focused on the role of cytokinins in stabilizing grain yields of maize against environmental stresses and global climate change. During his career, he has trained many students who have gone on to leading careers in higher education and the private and not-for-profit sectors. He is a fellow of both the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.
From the outset of his career, Jones has worked to advance international education. He has been a visiting professor and featured speaker in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. From 1984 to 1994, he served as an academic and scientific consultant for Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s South African Education Program. In 2010, he was awarded a University of Minnesota endowed chair in urban and international development; he was also named a recipient of the Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU).
Jones is nationally recognized for his work to advance university-community engagement, and at UAlbany, he is leading efforts to strengthen the University’s community partnerships. He currently serves as Regional Council Co-Chair for the Capital Region Economic Development Council (CREDC) alongside Albany Medical Center President James J. Barba. In 2013, he was appointed a co-chair for Albany Mayor-elect Sheehan’s transition committee. Other boards on which he serves include the Center for Economic Growth, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Capitalize Albany and Albany Promise. At the national level, he serves on the boards of Campus Compact, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and the Scholars at Risk Network. He is a member of the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering, an advisory committee to the National Science Foundation.
Jones is a member of several SUNY and UAlbany-affiliated boards, including the University at Albany University Council, The University at Albany Foundation, the University at Albany Biotech Development Corporation, the University Auxiliary Services Corporation, Empire Commons Student Housing, Inc., Fuller Road Management Corporation, the University at Albany Alumni Association, RF Research Council and Rockefeller Institute.
Prior to his arrival at UAlbany, Jones held a gubernatorial appointment as a commissioner of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact and served on the board of directors for the Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities. He was also a member of the Grammy award-winning Sounds of Blackness, a Twin Cities-based choral ensemble.
Jones and his spouse, Lynn Hassan Jones, M.D., have five children and two grandchildren.