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Dr. Robert Jones Jr.
Robert J. Jones Jr was born on this date in 1951. He is a Black administrator, agronomist, and educator.
A native of rural Dawson, Georgia, He is one of three children of Robert J. Jones and Mamie Beatrice Jones. As a youngster, Jones was born with a strong sense of curiosity. After High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master’s degree in crop physiology from the University of Georgia, and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. After earning the PhD., 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 focuses on stabilizing grain yields of maize against environmental stresses and global climate change.
In 1989, Dr. Jones served as vice president and executive vice provost for faculty and academic programs, vice president for campus life, vice provost for faculty and academic personnel, and interim vice president for student development. In 2004, Jones became senior vice president for System Academic Administration and chief operating officer for the University of Minnesota system.
He oversaw a broad portfolio of programs and initiatives that provide core support for academic programs across the University of Minnesota system and that extend the University's academic mission statewide and globally. This includes the four coordinate campuses, international programs, public engagement and outreach, diversity, and multicultural affairs. It also includes Pre-K-12 and other youth and family programs, urban initiatives, planning, and institutional research, state legislative relations, information technology, human resources, University of Minnesota Extension, and other University statewide initiatives.
Dr. Jones is a fellow of both the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America. He has been a visiting professor and featured speaker in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, and from 1984–1994 served as an academic and scientific consultant for Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s South African Education Program. Dr. Jones is an avid downhill skier. In 2010, he received the Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.
Jones worked at the University of Minnesota for 34 years. The University of Minnesota's Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center was named after Jones. Following his career at the University of Minnesota, Jones served as the president of the University at Albany from 2013 to 2016. During his tenure, he created the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
In July 2016, Jones was named as the University of Illinois' tenth chancellor. According to Jones, leaving the University of Albany was one of the most difficult decisions he had to make in his academic career. Jones also has a tenured faculty position in the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences in the department of crop sciences.
Voices That Guide Us interview, 2011
African American Registry
Box 19441, Mpls., MN