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Press Releases

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Dr. Joel Jones Named Interim President

SALISBURY, MD--Today University System of Maryland Chancellor Donald M. Langenberg announced the appointment of Dr. Joel M. Jones as interim president of Salisbury State University.

Jones is expected to assume his full duties the third week of September. He and his wife, Julie, will live in SSU's President's Residence during their year here.

Jones, who served as president of Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO, from 1988-98, comes with a resume of in-depth experience in administration, planning and academics combined with a noteable career as a scholar and teacher.

"Joel Jones has an outstanding record of keeping institutions on the right path," said Langenberg. "At Salisbury, the path is steadily moving onward and upward, and I have every confidence that Joel will make sure that much ground is gained during his tenure as interim president. He will undoubtedly be an active leader and effective advocate for Salisbury as it begins its 75th year of operations."

"I need to like the place I'm working for," said Jones. "The Salisbury State campus is spectacular, the people here are good, talented and passionate about the school, and this is a student-centered teaching/learning institution ... for us both a good, if temporary, fit."

Jones has made it clear that his roots are in Colorado and he and his wife will return to Durango after a year. He is expected, however, to be influential in the selection process of Salisbury State's new president.

In some ways Jones's academic background echoes that of the late Thomas E. Bellavance, former president of SSU who died in 1996 and was credited with elevating the campus academically. Jones is a 1960 honors graduate in American studies from Yale University. His M.A. is in English from Miami University and his doctorate in American studies from the University of New Mexico. A National Endowment for the Humanities scholar, he served on its national Board of Consultants. He also served on several national organizations including the Committee on Excellence in Teaching and Learning and chair of the Cultural Diversity Committee for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the Commission on Leadership Development for the American Council of Education. During the first half of his academic career he regularly published in the field of American studies, particularly in the journal American Literary Realism, ultimately serving on its Board of Editors. He also has written extensively on popular culture in topics ranging from aesthetics and art criticism to environmental ethics. In 1972 the Educational Press Association of America voted him its Distinguished Achievement Award.

In 1974 he accepted his first administrative post as an assistant vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico. For the next 11 years he stayed in the Provost Office, shouldering increasingly heavier responsibilities as associate provost/dean of faculties.

In 1985 he leapt from academics to administration. Before leaving UNM to assume the presidency of Fort Lewis, he was vice president for administration, planning and student affairs with authority over all administrative, student services, recruitment and public relations for a campus of some 20,000 students.

To his tenure at Fort Lewis, Jones brought a unique presidential style which endeared him to both faculty and students. One professor there described him as a regular guy who, on one hand, would come to a Halloween party with his wife--the two dressed as bikers in leather and press-on tattoos-- and, in turn, write eloquently in such prestigious journals as Liberal Education. In a recent article he described the need for college presidents to listen to housekeepers as well as department heads. "Consciousness and conscience must be connected," he said.

Praised by a Fort Lewis colleague for his remarkable concern for students coupled with an in-depth moral imperative, Jones has, in recent years, focused much of his scholarly writing on the totality of education, its need for community and communication. "You want debate, you want dialogue, you want people to be free to say what they want," said Jones, "and, equally importantly, you want them to listen to one another."

In his commitment to hearing all voices, Jones's style, observers say, echoes his immediate SSU predecessor, President William C. Merwin.

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