Board to vote on campus life VP

Melinda Rogers

When Robert Jones started his career at the University in 1978, he had one goal in mind: Make a difference in the lives of students.

Jones worked to accomplish this goal during the past 23 years through his research as a professor of agronomy and plant genetics. More recently, he’s served as the University’s interim president for student development after McKinley Boston’s 1999 departure.

This Thursday, Jones will likely take on a new role as University vice president for campus life – providing the Board of Regents approves his appointment at its July 12 meeting.

“We’re reorganizing two offices in central administration, as this will greatly strengthen our ability to advance programs for students,” said University Executive Vice President and Provost Robert Bruininks.

“Robert Jones has been an extraordinary leader since appointed to central administration. He will bring enormous character, strength and ability to this new position,” Bruininks added.

As vice president for campus life, Jones will assume responsibility for overseeing the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Student Development.

The two offices will be renamed the Office for Campus Life but will continue to operate as independent entities.

“A goal of the new office will be to closely link co-curricular activities and what occurs outside the classroom with academics,” Jones said.

“This is a component of offering a world-class education. It’s one of the things we can greatly approve upon at the University,” he said.

Working with a variety of student groups in recent months, Jones has started to pinpoint issues needing attention.

He looked to the University of Michigan as a model for linking the classroom experience with extra-curricular activities, and hopes to learn more about institutional structure in Ann Arbor.

Jones said he hopes to enhance community-building activities at the University, such as convocation, to engage students throughout their college years.

While working with Jones on student development issues, graduate student and GAPSA president Phillip Cole said he is impressed with Jones’ ability to gain a student perspective.

“Because he came from the academic side, he’s worked very hard to get to know all the different student groups on campus,” Cole said. “He listens to the needs and services students want and that makes him perfect for this (new) position.”

In addition to his administration and teaching positions, Jones runs an active lab on the St. Paul campus, where he researches plant physiology.

Research discoveries have been a highlight for Jones throughout his University tenure.

“The thrill of discovering new knowledge in my research program is a great joy. But I have a new appreciation for student development after serving as interim,” Jones said.

“By being in a number of roles, I have been able to make a difference,” he said.

Melinda Rogers covers the Board of Regents and welcomes comments at [email protected]