HARTFORD, CT, June 30, 2014 —James F. Jones, Jr., whose last day as Trinity’s 21st president is today, has been named interim president of Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia, the alma mater of his wife, Joan “Jan” Sheets Jones ’69.
Sweet Briar, on 3,250 acres, is located in central Virginia, approximately 11 miles northeast of Lynchburg. The enrollment comprises approximately 600 female students from 40 states and 19 countries. Sweet Briar is comparable to Trinity in that it has a low faculty-to-student ratio, small class sizes and is an NCAA Division III school.
Jones, who had originally planned to retire and return to his native Atlanta, will succeed Jo Ellen Parker who announced in April that she had been recruited for the presidency of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Jones will assume his new duties at the Virginia college on August 15.
Paul Rice, chair of Sweet Briar’s Board of Directors, said Jones was appointed following an intensive recruitment and selection process. Rice said the directors were especially impressed with Jones’s professional accomplishments, his commitment to collaboration and transparency, and his understanding of the college.
“We are pleased to welcome Jimmy Jones as interim president of Sweet Briar College and delighted to welcome back his wife, Jan,” said Rice. “Jimmy’s 20 years of experience as a highly effective president of two distinguished liberal arts colleges, his academic credentials, his boundless energy, and his knowledge of Sweet Briar uniquely qualify him for this appointment. He will be a solid leader as we navigate the college’s immediate future and complete the research and planning already underway for long-term sustainability.”
Jones was president of Kalamazoo College in Michigan prior to his 10-year stay at Trinity.
In addition to Jones’s wife, his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Sheets Reed, is a member of the Class of 1982 and a great-niece, the child of the Joneses’ goddaughter, is currently enrolled.
“My wife loves every blade of grass on Sweet Briar’s campus, and the College has played – and continues to play – such an important role in her life and in our life together. As with many of the College’s alumnae, Jan’s excitement and enthusiasm for her alma mater are contagious,” said Jones.
Jones said he’s known Parker for many years and holds her in the highest regard. “I know she has constructed a firm foundation for us to build upon as we move forward,” he said.
Parker said she is leaving knowing that the College is in very capable hands.
“Sweet Briar could not have found a more ideal interim president,” said Parker. “For me, personally, passing the torch to Jimmy Jones, an admired colleague and friend, is an honor – and knowing Sweet Briar will be in such good hands is a joy.”
During his 10-year presidency at Trinity College, Jones led a college-wide strategic planning process, with input from hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and the Trinity Board of Trustees. Trinity’s resulting 2005 Cornerstone Plan was instrumental in establishing an ongoing process for annual planning at the college. In addition, the Cornerstone Plan helped Trinity develop the goals of its six-year Cornerstone and Legacy Campaigns, which concluded in 2012 after raising $369 million in contributions and donor commitments - more than double the amount of Trinity’s previous fundraising campaign.
Jones oversaw the successful $33-million restoration and renovation of Trinity’s historic Long Walk buildings - prime examples of High Victorian Collegiate Gothic architecture -located at the heart of Trinity’s 100-acre campus. Other campus improvements during his tenure included the establishment of the Crescent Street Townhouses and the Koeppel Community Sports Center, renovation of Vernon Social into a vibrant student gathering place, and the creation of the Gates Quadrangle, an elegant open space linking the classical architecture of Trinity’s Long Walk Quad with the modern buildings of its math and sciences quad.
Under Jones’s leadership, Trinity fortified its connection to its home city of Hartford while simultaneously promoting its focus on urban and global initiatives. Additionally, under Jones’s leadership, Trinity saw more than 30 percent growth in its overall College endowment and achieved significant annual fund growth. Today, annual fund contributions represent between eight and nine percent of the College’s operating budget - almost double the contribution of 10 years ago. Jones, who also served as Trinity College Professor in the Humanities, taught at least one class every year.
In addition to serving as president at Trinity and Kalamazoo, Jones was professor of the humanities, dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and vice provost at Southern Methodist University. Earlier, he served as professor of Romance languages and literature at Washington University in St. Louis.
Jones graduated cum laude from the University of Virginia. He received his master’s degree from Emory University and his M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He also holds a Certificat from the Sorbonne in Paris.
At Trinity, Jones will be succeeded by Joanne Berger-Sweeney, who will become the College’s 22nd president on Tuesday, July 1. Berger-Sweeney is coming to Trinity from Tufts University in Medford, MA, where she has been dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.