John Paul Jones III Named Dean of SBS

John Paul Jones III, who has traveled around the world, aiding in the development of social and cultural theory related to geography, has received a new appointment.

Jones, who directs the University of Arizona's School of Geography and Development, has been named dean of the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, or SBS.

He succeeds Beth Mitchneck, who has served as the interim dean since June, replacing Edward Donnerstein who stepped down from the deanship earlier this year to return to the faculty.

Over the next six months, Jones said the college would take part in a strategic planning process intended to "focus our mission, articulate our strengths and goals and set our priorities as we move forward."

Jones noted: "Through this process I hope to have us thinking in terms of the larger collective mission of the social sciences, what do we do well and how do we articulate those strengths to the wider University and our external constituencies."

As part of his appointment, Jones also will serve as a divisional dean for the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science, of which the SBS is a member.

In speaking about Jones' appointment, UA Executive Vice President Meredith Hay said he is an "exemplary teacher, researcher and public servant" who represents the "best" of what the UA faculty has to offer the state and the world.

"The respect he has earned will serve him well as the leader of the Social and Behavioral Sciences faculty, as the UA continues its pursuit of excellence in the face of unprecedented economic challenges," Hay added.

Jones joined the UA faculty in 2003 and is an affiliate faculty member with the UA's gender and women's studies department.

He has chaired a number of different committees in SBS and elsewhere on campus, dealing with faculty affairs and programming for students. His research has centered on topics related to feminist geography, the poverty of women and issues associated with identity and space.

Jones earned his undergraduate degree in geography from the University of Florida in 1977, earning his master's in the same discipline from Florida State University in 1979. He went on to earn his doctorate in geography from Ohio State University in 1984.

He has since taught at several institutions, including the University of Kentucky, San Diego State University and University College in Dublin as a visiting Fulbright Professor – having earned a Fulbright Scholarship for the 1993-1994 year.

Joaquin Ruiz, executive dean of the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Science, commended Jones on being a top researcher in his field, noting that he also is a "strong" leader and is respected by his colleagues.

"All of these things are needed to ensure being successful," said Ruiz, who is also the College of Science dean.

"And recently, he has been fairly engaged on campus," Ruiz said, noting that Jones has been involved with strategic planning and budgeting redesign committees. "I am looking forward to working with him."

Jones has published several co-edited books and will be included in the forthcoming book, "The Sage Handbook of Social Geographies." He also has published dozens of articles and book chapters since the late 1970s.

During his years at the UA, Jones has been called to speak at a number of national conferences, including those sponsored by the Association of American Geographers, the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers and the American Studies Association. Additionally, he has been invited to present at universities across the United States and in England, the Netherlands, Scotland and around the world.

Last year, he earned the Economic and Social Research Council International Visiting Fellowship and was named a Distinguished International Visitor at the University of Durham's geography department.

Jones said his priorities include streamlining operations within the college and also maintaining and enhancing the strengths of the its graduate programs.

A university cannot maintain its top 20 status without a history of "top 20 departments and excellence at the department level," Jones said, adding that this feat requires strong graduate programs in SBS's traditional disciplines.

"But I also believe that quality in these terms will pay important and direct dividends to our undergraduate programs, which is an additional priority," he added.

He also said he would like to initiate a series of interdisciplinary, service-learning minors focusing on sustainability, community development, border studies and social justice, among others.

Being a member of CLAS will enable the college also to enhance its collaborative work, he said.

Jones said CLAS offers the college a "unique opportunity" to connect that knowledge in a way that is beneficial to the University.

"And in this regard, Arizona has an important legacy of low walls – of cross-college collaboration on interdisciplinary
programs, faculty appointments, undergraduate and graduate minors, and the like," Jones said.

"Being a part of CLAS means thinking for and yet beyond any one of the colleges that make it up," he added. "I'm excited about working with the CLAS deans in ways that both strengthen each individual college and improve the university through cooperative programs."

By La Monica Everett-Haynes, University Communications December 22, 2009