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Friday, February 3, 2012

34 Years in Student Affairs: Dr. Diane Jones announces her retirement from UNCP

Dr. Diane O. Jones, UNC Pembroke’s vice chancellor for the Division of Student Affairs, will retire effective June 30, 2012.  Dr. Jones worked in student affairs at UNCP for 34 years, beginning as director of the Career Center.

Diane JonesDr. Jones will leave a legacy as a program builder during a time of rapid enrollment growth and expansion of the Division of Student Affairs. She said it has been “a good 34 years,” and she thanked her current and former staff.

 “There is lot of responsibility as an administrator of student affairs, but I’ve had good people working with me who have served long and well,” she said. “My father-in-law (former Chancellor English Jones) told me to surround myself with good people. I’ve had some of the best, and it has made my job easier.”

Chancellor Kyle R. Carter announced Dr. Jones’ retirement on Thursday, February 2. He praised Dr. Jones as an able and dedicated university leader.

“All of us face retirement in our future, but, for me, Dr. Jones’ retirement comes much too soon,” Dr. Carter said. “She has become one of the most important members of my senior team, and I will sorely miss her competent leadership and management as well as her thoughtful counsel.   

“Diane has served the university over three decades with style and grace,” the chancellor continued. “Her contributions to the university are many, but most will remember her leadership orientation characterized by loyalty, passion and sensitivity –  placing students at the center of all of her actions. 

“I know Diane will continue to be a part of the university after her retirement,” he said. “Sarah and I count Diane and her husband, Randall, as friends, and we look forward to social times.”

Dr. Jones has served the university continuously from 1977. In 1989, she was appointed director of student activities, and in 1993, she was appointed assistant vice chancellor of student affairs. She was named vice chancellor in 1999.  

The Division of Student Affairs includes of offices of Police and Public Safety, Student Health, Student Conduct, Housing and Residence Life, Career Center, Counseling and Testing, Student Involvement and Leadership, Civic and Community Engagement, Multicultural and Minority Affairs, Intramurals and operation of the James B. Chavis University Center. The division advises student clubs and organizations, the Student Government Association and student publications, including the Indianhead yearbook and The Pine Needle student newspaper.

In an interview following the announcement to her staff, Dr. Jones said she is proud of many accomplishments. Offices multiplied and staff expanded during her tenure.

“I have witnessed many changes in student affairs,” she said. “Besides the growth of facilities, the growth of student programs has been remarkable.

“Student housing stands out for me because of the new residence halls with diverse accommodations,” Dr. Jones continued. “We can offer apartment living now, and we have worked with private housing developers who have also added to the housing diversity available to our students.

“UNC Pembroke is a residential university today with many opportunities to provide evening and weekend programming, which is very rewarding,” she said. “We have reached that critical mass of students living on campus.”

Several key accomplishments stand out for Dr. Jones. The first milestone on her list speaks to her dedication to student welfare.

“Student insurance is one of the things I am very proud of,” Dr. Jones said. “We were able to form a UNC consortium to provide affordable health insurance for all students.”

Expanding programming and building audiences for the arts at Givens Performing Arts Center is another high point for Dr. Jones. She singled out the Distinguished Speaker and Nostalgia Music series as two successful additions to GPAC’s stage.

“We’ve built a broad-based audience,” Dr. Jones said. “GPAC is a real asset to the university’s outreach and service to the community.”

The Miss UNCP Scholarship Pageant, which is in its 60th year, has also thrived under Dr. Jones’ care. The event is affiliated with the Miss North Carolina Pageant, and Miss UNCP competes for the state crown.

“It is one of the top pageants in the state,” Dr. Jones said. “Hailey Best, Miss North Carolina 2011 and our emcee for this year’s pageant, said it is the best organized and most professional pageant she has seen.”

Also on Dr. Jones’ short list are the continuing good relations between the university and the Town of Pembroke. Dr. Jones coordinated Pembroke Day and chaired the Town and Gown Committee for many years.

What has driven Dr. Jones for 34 years is a passion for students. Sound policies and procedures provide a roadmap for successful administration, but they take dedication to important fundamental principles to be successful in student affairs.

“It takes a dedication to the principle of fairness and equitable treatment of all students,” she said. “And it takes good people in place to make that happen. I’ve had those people around me here.”

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