University community mourns passing of Terrell Jones

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- W. Terrell Jones, vice provost for Educational Equity at Penn State, died today (Aug. 19) after an extended illness. He was 64.

It was with deep sorrow that Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost, wrote to inform the University community of Terrell Jones' passing. He wrote, "Terrell had been on medical leave the last few months. He will be greatly missed across the University not only for the impact of his contributions to Penn State, but also for simply the wonderful person that he was."

Tom Poole, vice president for Administration, said, "The passing of Terrell Jones is an immeasurable loss for Penn State, the Centre region and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His advocacy for low-income, first-generation college students and those who experience discrimination set him apart as a champion for justice. His vast knowledge of multicultural education and communication made him a highly-sought expert who trained thousands across the state and the nation. His professional life made a profound impact on students, their families and communities and countless colleagues. He also freely shared his many gifts and his enormous generosity with those of us who treasured his friendship."

As vice provost, Jones was responsible for leading the implementation of the University’s strategic plan that embraces and supports diversity. His role included planning, developing, coordinating, articulating and advocating the University’s goals, policies, and procedures pertaining to equal opportunity for under-represented faculty, staff and students.

"Terrell Jones was a very special person who will be sorely missed. He was beloved by young and old alike. His personality readily attracted individuals of all ages, races, and nationalities. Terrell was especially dedicated to helping less fortunate individuals grow and develop to their full potential. Under his leadership, Penn State became a much more diverse and welcoming university. Terrell was an eloquent and persuasive champion who had the capacity to engage other leaders to change and become more proactive," said Blannie Bowen, vice provost for Academic Affairs.

"I'm honored to have had the opportunity to work with Terrell Jones for nearly two decades at Penn State within the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity," said Marcus Whitehurst, acting vice provost for Educational Equity. "Terrell was a dedicated colleague and friend who was committed to advancing the diversity initiatives and equity for faculty, staff and students at Penn State.  He was also very passionate about transforming the lives and contributing to the success of our first-generation and low-income students. We were very fortunate to have had Terrell at Penn State for so many years and we certainly appreciate all of the contributions he has made in making our University a better place."

Jones started his long career at Penn State as a residence hall area coordinator in East Halls in 1980, and became associate director of the Division of Campus Life in 1984. After an Administrative Fellowship in the Office of the President in 1989, Jones was named deputy vice provost for Educational Equity in 1990. He left the University briefly to take on the role of acting provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Lock Haven University from 1996-97.

Jones returned to Penn State in 1997 as associate vice provost for Educational Equity, and became vice provost in 1998.

He served on the University's Forum on Black Affairs for many years, and was its president from 1986-87. He also was chair of the Equal Opportunity Planning Committee from 1989-96 and Penn State’s Representative for the Global Sullivan Principles from 2000-2005.

Jones supported efforts to reach pre-college youth from diverse backgrounds. In 2004 and again in 2013 he was the keynote speaker for Penn State's Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

He also participated in the Arnelle Fly Fishing Initiative, which brought students from the inner city to University Park to explore an outdoor environment foreign to them and learn new skills. In addition to providing some financial support for the program through the Office of Educational Equity, Jones, an avid fly fisherman himself, served as mentor for the program. He also often could be spotted with his fly rod out on the banks of Spring Creek near the University Park campus, and the educator in him was happy to turn a chance encounter into an opportunity to teach a youngster the art of flyfishing.

Jones also was active in the community, serving as president of the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education (2008-10); as a member of the board of trustees of the International Partnership for Service Learning (2002-14); chairperson of the Centre County Advisory Council to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (1998-14); and a member of the Lock Haven State University Foundation (1999-2014), the Albright-Bethune United Methodist Church Administrative Council (1990-2014), among others.

Jones is the author or co author of several book chapters on the subject of cultural diversity. He was an affiliate faculty member with the Division of Counseling and Educational Psychology at Penn State, and taught courses on race relations and cross-cultural counseling.

He was a board member of International Partnership for Service Learning and was a diversity consultant for several Pennsylvania school districts and private sector organizations. He was a faculty member of the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication for more than 10 years and regularly presented workshops on strategic planning for diversity in higher education and racial and cultural identity.

He was awarded the Way Pavers Award in 2012 for contributing to and supporting diversity initiatives at Penn State. He is also a member of the James B. Stewart Society, a giving society in the Office of Educational Equity. This year, he was scheduled to be honored as an Alumni Fellow, the highest award given by the Penn State Alumni Association.

Born Aug. 30, 1949, Jones earned a bachelor of arts in sociology with a minor in anthropology from Lock Haven University in 1972; a master of education in counselor education and student personnel services from Penn State in 1974, and a doctor of education in the same field from Penn State in 1985.

Jones is survived by his wife, Carla, and their children. Funeral arrangements will be announced when completed.

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Last Updated August 19, 2014