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Remembering Dr. William Russell Jones

Professor Emeritus, University of Alaska Southeast

Russ JonesAn administrator credited with helping to pioneer the University of Alaska Southeast and the well regarded UAS School of Education has passed on.  Dr. William Russell Jones, 90, died October 7, 2011 in Surprise, Arizona.  He moved to Juneau in 1969 from Colorado to take the position of Director of the Division of Instruction at the Alaska State Department of Education. In 1971 Jones became Coordinator of Teacher Education of the Southeast Region of the University of Alaska. He retired from the University of Alaska Southeast as Vice Chancellor and Professor Emeritus in 1984.

“Russ Jones made significant contributions to the development of UAS,” said Chancellor John Pugh. “He laid the foundation for our present day School of Education. Russ and his wife Donna remained great supporters of UAS in their retirement."

“He was the first faculty member hired for the teacher training program,” said former UAS Provost Robbie Stell. “When I think of our School of Education and the fine reputation we have for training teachers around the state I think of Russ.”

In 1975, when Jones became a Vice Chancellor, Lawrence Lee Oldaker took Jones place at the School of Education.  According to Oldaker, Dr. Jones helped fashion the creation of the Southeast Senior College, an upper division and graduate program that was to merge with three regional community colleges located in Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan.

Jones worked tirelessly with then-Chancellor Michael Paradise in forming UAS. Together, and with the new and combined faculties, fresh academic on-campus courses and outreach activities were created. Statewide efforts were affected by employing faculty members to visit schools in remote areas and by using audio-conferencing by satellite telephones. These distance-delivered courses established the foundation of UAS growth and, equally important, created a format for the development of the digital programming currently used in the university system.

Dr. Jones received the first Emeritus Professor award upon his retirement from UAS, a fitting tribute to a highly valued educator and colleague.

“Russ has always been remembered as a positive, supportive faculty leader during the challenging era of university operations in the boom and bust years as revenues were brought into public budgets from Prudhoe Bay petroleum production,” said Oldaker.  “His smiling countenance, playful cowboy ways, and orientation to succeed were contagious. The secret blue elixir he provided for the campus yuletide function was memorable.”

“I remember Russ as a true gentleman, kind, and generous--always a big smile on his face,” recalls retired Professor of Communications Sue Koester. “With his support I began my teaching career at UAS.”

Former Chancellor Marshall Lind (1987-99) worked with Jones when Lind was Acting Dean of Graduate Studies in the mid-1980’s. “He was really a very stable element in the early development of University of Alaska Juneau (UAJ) and UAS,” recalls Lind. “He was the mainstay through changes. He was instrumental in getting the education program going. He used to fly around to different communities in his own plane supervising student teachers.

For its 50th Anniversary in 2006, Jones published a personal history of UAS. In the forward he wrote, “I am proud to have been part of the University of Alaska Southeast. It is a campus of high standards and great potential. I wish continued success to all who participate in furthering the development of this fine institution.”

“The university was his life’s blood,” writes his wife, Donna Jones. “That was his baby, and what he enjoyed talking about.”

Dr. Jones is survived by his wife Donna, his daughters, Lynn Fletcher and Carolyn McGhee and his son Lee Post. He also leaves 3 brothers, David, James and George. He was preceded in death by sons, Russell Ward Jones and Richard Post and a sister, Corralie Richards. Dr. Jones has ten grandchildren and three great-grand children.

A Memorial Service will be held on October 22, 2011 at the Community Church of Sun Village in Surprise, Arizona.


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