An Unwavering Commitment

Bernadette mcfadden stout ac president new portrait 700x467 dsonmagsum22

Photo by Dan Loh.

by Alumni Council President Bernadette McFadden Stout '07 

In September, in a ceremony and celebration fit for the occasion, John E. Jones III ’77, P’11, was inaugurated as Dickinson’s 30th president. A dive into the college’s online archives taught me that he is the 11th alumnus to serve our alma mater in this role. (And like at least three presidents before him—Mason, Filler and Corson—he is the parent of a Dickinson alum.) When I hear President Jones speak about the future of our college, I am reminded how much we should cherish that unique pipeline from student to college president. As an alumnus, Jones has personal knowledge of every facet of our college, but more importantly, he has an unwavering commitment to this place.

In 2001, when I was in high school and looking at colleges, The Wall Street Journal recognized Dickinson as one of 16 “hot schools” in the nation. The effervescence was evident when I arrived on campus the following year, as was the commitment to remaining on the front pages for all the right reasons. But for almost a decade, we have heard talk of Dickinson as one of “the best-kept secrets.” Prepare yourselves, because it is clear that President Jones has no interest in keeping our alma mater a secret. His ambitious and energizing plan will, in some ways, look familiar to many of us, as Jones has learned from past alumni leaders. But beyond those similarities lies a bold mission: to move Dickinson forward into position as one of the country’s unquestionably great colleges. Here are some of the steps he’s taken already:

  • Campus culture. Howard Rubendall (24th president, class of 1931) oversaw the construction of 20 new facilities, including the Fraternity Quadrangle, and nearly doubled the size of the college over his 15-year tenure. Rubendall is fondly remembered as the “students’ president.” I see in President Jones a return to this heyday. Students fondly refer to him as “JJ,” and when he’s not dining in the Caf or chatting with students in the Academic Quad, he’s inviting students, faculty, alums and parents to join him at the field or in the Kline Center for whatever sporting event might be happening. An August 2022 video of Jones speaking to athletes captures this energy and enthusiasm better than any text could. Check it out.
  • Alumni engagement. Gilbert Malcolm (23rd president, class of 1911) is credited with founding the Dickinson Alumni Association, building a million-dollar endowment and making Dickinson one of the first colleges of its kind to have an annual fundraising program. Jones has embraced the role of fundraiser-in-chief, launching an ambitious campaign to ensure our alma mater’s long-term future.
  • Mental health. Fred Pierce Corson (20th president, class of 1917, and Dickinson parent) established the student health services program. Jones has also focused attention and financial resources on the mental well-being of the student body—under his leadership, the Wellness Center has expanded to 24/7 access to services.

The Alumni Association that Malcolm founded in 1923—now called the Alumni Council—is soon to celebrate its 100th anniversary. As we look forward to commemorating that occasion (including with events during Alumni Weekend 2023), we are increasingly excited about the future of our college, secure in the knowledge that one of our own is at the helm. In the meantime, reach out anytime:

Read more from the fall 2022 issue of Dickinson Magazine.


Published November 9, 2022