Joel Mackey Jones
1937 - 2016
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Joel Mackey Jones, President Emeritus of Fort Lewis College, died at his home in Durango, Colorado on July 13, 2016, following an 18-month battle with brain cancer. He was 78.

Dr. Jones was born to Theodore Roosfelt Jones and Edna Mae

Mackey Jones on August 11, 1937, in Millersburg, Ohio. He was delivered by his paternal grandfather, John Martin Jones, a country doctor in Holmes County, Ohio.

A graduate of Chagrin Falls High School in Ohio, Dr. Jones received his B.A. from Yale University in 1960, his M.A. at Miami of Ohio in 1963, and his Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of New Mexico in 1966. In 1969 he became the chairperson of American Studies at the University of New Mexico, and over the next 19 years at UNM, he served as the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, Associate Provost and Dean of Faculties, and Vice President for Administration, Planning, and Student Affairs.

Dr. Jones became President of Fort Lewis College in Durango,

Colorado in June,1988. His tenure at FLC encompassed not only the height of its enrollment at 4200 students, it also witnessed the historic change of the school's mascot from "the Raiders" to "the Skyhawks," and the transformation of the campus following the collapse of the Fine Arts Building in 1993 due to snowfall. During his presidency, the college enjoyed unprecedented support from the community as well as the state legislature, and also experienced a campus-wide sense of shared goals and aspirations. As a result, this period was often described as the "Camelot Years."

Dr. Jones's research and publications covered such topics as: American social/intellectual history, leadership training, cultural pluralism, environmental studies, educational planning and program development. In 1972 he received the distinguished achievement award from the Educational Press Association of America, and was also named to an American Council on Education Administrative Fellowship. He published more than 80 scholarly articles and reviews. He was a member of the Board of Consultants for the National Endowment of the Humanities, served as a consultant for institutions ranging from two-year colleges to comprehensive research universities, and served on the Commission on Leadership Development of the American Council on Education.

From 1992 through 1994 Dr. Jones served as chair of the AASCU (American Association of State Colleges and Universities) Committee on Multiculturalism and Social Change. He also served as Colorado's representative on AASCU's Council of State Representatives from 1995 to 1997. After serving ten years (1988-1998) as the president of Fort Lewis College, he chose to finish his career by returning to his first love, teaching and writing, and remained at Fort Lewis College as President Emeritus and Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies. During his transition to "retirement," he served six months as the interim superintendent of schools for Durango District 9-R, following which he spent the academic year 1999-2000 as the interim President of Salisbury University in the University of Maryland system. His last administrative role was as the Executive Director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce during the year 2002 -- and for the past several years, he lectured and wrote a monthly column on leadership.

In 2007, the Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees changed the name of the Fine Arts Building to Jones Hall, in honor of Joel's outstanding service to higher education. His service to the field of education was as far-reaching as his passion for learning, and in 2010 he was appointed to the Colorado Governor's Commission on Early Childhood Leadership. He continued to serve on the boards of the Fort Lewis College Foundation, the Early Childhood Association of La Plata County, the Foreign Credential Services of America, and chaired both the San Juan Symphony and the Durango Chamber of Commerce boards.

Joel's family continued to be a source of strength and pride for him throughout his life. He married Carolyn Sue Sill on June 9, 1963, and although their 17-year marriage ended in divorce, he always considered their two daughters, Carolyn (Cammie) Mae and Jocelyn Corrine, to be the "bedrock of his existence." He had two subsequent marriages to Nancy Lee Magnuson on May 28, 1982, and Julie Marie Simons on August 11,1993. Julie's death in 2001 prompted Joel to become a staunch advocate for suicide prevention and mental health services in La Plata County.

On March 11, 2006, Joel married his longtime friend and colleague, Rochelle Gayl Mann, then Chair of the Music Department at Fort Lewis College. Together they experienced over ten years of rewarding professional development, personal joy, and they also welcomed four new grandchildren to the existing three.

Dr. Jones is survived by his wife, Rochelle (Shelley) Mann, of Durango; sister Judy Jones of Eureka Springs, Arkansas; daughters Carolyn (Cammie) Nichols and Jocelyn Strauss of Albuquerque, New Mexico; stepsons Philip Mann of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Scott Mann of Denver, Colorado; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for July 28 at 1:00 PM in the Fort Lewis College Concert Hall. Memorial donations may be sent to the Joel M. Jones Family Scholarship Endowment in care of the Fort Lewis College Foundation or to the Hospice of Mercy Foundation in Durango, Colorado.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Durango Herald on Jul. 15, 2016.
Memorial service
01:00 PM
Fort Lewis College Concert Hall
Memories & Condolences
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13 entries
May 27, 2020
Joel Jones was a great teacher here at the University of New Mexico when I was a grad student. He encouraged innovation and beneficial change and creativity and was a great supporter of my work as a poet.
July 26, 2019
Memories of Joel come back to me frequently. He played such an important role at UNM. Very few people realize how Joel kept the university stable during a time of crisis. In his do-all position as vice president for administration, planning and student affairs, his calm persona, deep understanding, steadfast loyalty and keen intellect were crucial to UNM's plowing through some tough times. These were some of many qualities that I admired in Joel. He was a rock of admiration and respect to me and many others.
Joel helped me through my time as dean of arts and science with his sage advice and support. When I had served more than six years and was ready to return to the faculty, Joel came to my office (with Cammie) and convinced me to apply for the position of vice-president for academic affairs. The decision to do so was largely based on my respect and fondness for Joel and his concern for UNM. By his exemplary character and performance, Joel set a very high bar for all of us. He will always be a model of the best in academia for me as well as a very fine person. I am honored to have known him and been his colleague and friend.
F. Chris Garcia
August 17, 2016
Joel directed UNM's doctoral program in American Studies when I was there 1970-74. I was looking forward to seeing him next week, and am deeply saddened to learn of his death. He was indeed a wonderful teacher, administrator, mentor, and friend. I, too, remember his daughter playing in his office when I talked with him.
Rose Gladney
Rose Gladney
July 23, 2016
I met Joel back in the mid 90's. We were both speaking at an Environmental Seminar in the College Ball Room. I read an excerpt from Loren Eiseley and he had mentioned to me that Eiseley was one of his favorite authors. Joel was the one of the finest presidents Fort Lewis ever had. He will be missed by so many. We have lost a truly fine gentleman.

Burt Baldwin
Burt Baldwin
July 20, 2016
Joel was a person I admired greatly. In many ways he was a mentor and a role model for me. He was completely dedicated to UNM. In his professorial role he was an excellent teacher and a prolific and profound scholar-writer. Few know about the critical roles he played in his many administrative positions at UNM in keeping the university functioning in times of crisis. The well-being and advancement of students and faculty were always his priorities in making decisions. Even though few know the inside story of Joel's crucial contributions to UNM, his legacy lives on in many of the best aspects of the contemporary University. He was a great man.
F. Chris Garcia
July 20, 2016
F. Chris Garcia
July 19, 2016
On behalf of all of Joel's many friends in the nationwide handball community, sincere condolences to the family. Joel loved to play handball and was a fierce competitor over the many years he did play. He was also a staunch supporter of the game and made many friends during the annual handball camps held at the Durango Sports Club. He will be missed.
Dave Coulie
July 18, 2016
Joel was a blessing to work for at the Univ. of New Mexico. I was fortunate to have had that honor when he was Assoc. Provost. He was such a kind, fair and honorable human being with intelligence beyond measure. I remember him bringing in Cammie and Joci to work at times so he could spend more time with them. What a special Dad, for certain. I am sorry the world has lost such a remarkable man. My condolences to all his family, near and far.
Suzanne Burke
July 18, 2016
My deepest condolences to All you in this difficult time. May blessings to all of you.
Esther Lopez
July 18, 2016

Rochelle, Our sincere sympathy to you and your family. While death is never an easy thing to deal with, we pray that in the midst of your sorrow you find comfort in all the joyful memories shared and will always cherish these beautiful memories . Romans 15:13
Dex & Lula
July 18, 2016
Joel will always be remembered as a "Man Of All Seasons". We are all blessed to have known and loved Joel and all the people,family ,and friends touched by his love and care.
Roy Ricci
July 17, 2016
Joel was blessed with intelligence, an open heart, humor, compassion, a love of the natural world and written word, and an appreciation of the arts. He was a true visionary and certainly a beloved leader and mentor. His many legacies will live on. Prayers for his family, friends , the many lives he touched and the communities who benefited from his work. He will rest peacefully with a life well and fully lived. With great sorrow, Jennifer Berkman, Salisbury, Maryland.
Jennifer Berkman
July 16, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with the families. Especially his FLC family who he made feel special every time we met in the halls, in public, or at a special function.
Peace be with him and his family.
Rosie Van Cleave
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