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February 7, 2012

Big Ideas: Colleen Jones

Colleen Jones Promo
Dr. Colleen Jones has seen more than 200 students participate in the Melvin W. Jones Scholars Learning Community since it began eight years ago. Under Jones’ leadership, the learning community was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the Target Foundation, which donates 5 percent of its income weekly to schools and nonprofit organizations. The grant will provide student awards, scholarships and general program support.

Jones is an associate professor of practice in management and has been teaching for more than 20 years. She is also the recipient of the 1999 and 2004 College of Business Administration Distinguished Teaching Award and was recognized by the Lincoln YWCA for her accomplishments in education.

“I enjoy teaching, period. I enjoy creating learning environments for people. I love seeing them discover things about themselves and about the world that they didn’t know before,” Jones said.

The Jones Scholars Learning Community is named after Jones’ late husband, Dr. Melvin Wallase Jones, who was the vice chancellor for business and finance at UNL from 1995 until his death in 1999. He was committed to the academic success of students and encouraged them to enhance their leadership skills. His philosophy was to never give up or stop trying.

This spring the Jones Scholars will travel to Memphis, Tenn., the birthplace of Melvin. The group plans to visit the Civil Rights Museum, tour and visit corporations, such as FedEx and Kellogg, and participate in a community service project tutoring Title I students.

“The Target grant funds may also be used for scholarships/book awards for the students as well as program components to recognize student accomplishments and academic progress,” Jones said. “Since the Jones Scholars are the only learning community not funded by a college or NU Foundation fund, we don't have money for scholarships and only minor funding for program support. The Target grant allows us to offer a comprehensive array of program components for the Melvin Jones Scholars on par with those of discipline-based learning communities.”

The Jones Learning Community began with the premise of retaining a diverse student body at UNL. Students in the learning community live on the eighth floor of Abel Hall, take classes together and engage in community service and educational, cultural and social trips. The community is open to freshman enrolled at UNL. After the first year, the students in the program become Jones Scholars Alumni, and provide support and advice to the new freshman about time management and study habits.

Colleen Jones and students

Colleen Jones (top row, far left) with UNL students

Junior Janet Sanchez is a business administration major from Scottsbluff, Neb. and Jones Scholars alumnus. Even though she no longer lives in the learning community, the Jones Scholars continue to be beneficial to her college experience.

“Being a part of the Jones Scholars Learning Community means that I always have some sort of guide while at the university,” Sanchez said. “No matter what I need help with, the Jones Scholars community puts me in contact with all of the right people. I still email Dr. Jones whenever I need anything.”

Jones earned her doctorate of business administration from The George Washington University School of Business and Public Management and her masters of business administration in management and finance from the University of Southern California. Her research interests include leadership development, access and advancement of women and people of color in executive positions, creating environments to enhance learning, workplace spirit and spirituality and stress management. Her research has been published in several journals including the Journal of Management Education and Management Learning.