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AASU president leaving
Resignation to be effective in spring
Thomas Jones  AASU prexy
Thomas Z. Jones - photo by Photo provided.
SAVANNAH — Thomas Z. Jones, who has led the transformation of Armstrong Atlantic State University from a quiet commuter campus of 5,400 students to a residential university of more than 7,000 students, has announced that he will leave his post as president of AASU effective June 30.
“This has not been an easy decision because I have truly cherished the opportunities and challenges and the wonderful colleagues during my time of service,” Jones said. “Yet, at some point one realizes when it is time to transition to another phase of life. For me, that time has arrived.”
After the end of his tenure in June 2009, Jones will take a brief respite before transitioning into the University System of Georgia, where he will serve for one year developing projects related to institutional leadership at the request of Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr. He said he also is looking forward to spending more time with his family and engaging in more community service efforts.
“Tom Jones has done and is doing a superb job as president of Armstrong Atlantic State University,” said Arthur Gignilliat, a former member of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. “He has literally changed the face of the university with new buildings, campus housing and the Armstrong Center on Abercorn.”
At AASU, Jones has been a catalyst in moving the university toward innovative economic development enterprises. He led an effort to establish the AASU Educational Properties Foundation, Inc. in 2001 as a public-private enterprise to fund capital projects without involving state appropriations funds.
The foundation has allowed the university to build Compass Point apartment-style housing and buy and renovate University Terrace and University Crossings residence halls. The purchase in 2006 of the Armstrong Center — now home to the Department of Professional and Continuing Education — and the planned construction of a $16 million student union, to be completed in fall 2009, also have been managed by the foundation. In all, the university, in partnership with its foundation, has invested more than $75 million in instructional and student life facilities.
“From the beginning he was dedicated to advancing leadership within the region and had a strong desire to establish the university as an integral part of this community,” said Joe Buck, AASU vice president of student affairs emeritus. “He understood that working with community leaders to build a strong town-gown relationship is a two-way street that benefits everyone.”
On campus, Jones quickly became known as a president who pushed his administration and faculty to develop initiatives enhancing leadership skills among the students. Over time these initiatives, involving many community partners, have become part of the fabric of academic programs, student life, and outreach projects.
“He had a strong drive to educate students not only for today, but wanted Armstrong Atlantic to instill in young people leadership skills that would serve them for a lifetime,” Buck said.
Additional milestones achieved by Jones during his tenure include the university’s growing collaboration with the region’s healthcare providers to educate medical professionals to meet the region’s workforce demands. Over the last few years, AASU has been able to double its number of nursing graduates and has added a wide range of new academic programs including nuclear medicine, cyber security, and graduate programs in teacher education.
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