(December 21, 2011 - North Canton, OH) The Stark State College Board of Trustees unanimously named Dr. Para M. Jones the fourth president in the College’s 51-year history at a special Board meeting Wednesday. Jones, president of Spartanburg Community College in Spartanburg, SC, will take the helm as Stark State president Feb. 6, 2012. She succeeds Dr. John O’Donnell who left the College in July to assume the presidency of MassBay Community College in Massachusetts.
Jones, 56, was selected by the board after an extensive nationwide search and interview process conducted by the Board of Trustees, administration, foundation board members and community stakeholders and a search committee comprised of college and community representatives. Faculty, staff, students and community leaders participated in open forums with the finalists and provided input to the board. The process culminated with visits to the campuses of the three presidential finalists.
"I am delighted that Dr. Jones is the choice of our Board to lead the College into the next decade,” said Stark State Board Chair Michael L. Thomas, DDS. “Her leadership, intellect, character and charisma will continue to position Stark State College as a first choice in higher education and a leader in economic growth and community prosperity. Dr. Jones is a perfect fit for our Board, our College and our community, and we welcome her back.
With more than 24 years of experience and leadership in student access and success, accreditation, strategic and operational planning and execution, institutional research and continuous improvement, Jones has created effective education, business and community partnerships and is deeply committed to the community college mission, diversity and inclusiveness.
“I am so pleased to have this opportunity to return to Stark State and Northeast Ohio, where I spent so much of my professional career and have been deeply rooted in the community,” said Jones. “I appreciate the Board’s confidence, and I look forward to continuing the College’s steadfast commitment to student access, student success and economic development.”
Jones spent 22 years at Stark State prior to becoming president of Spartanburg Community College. At Stark State, she was vice president for advancement, planning, college and community relations from 2005 – 2009. She developed and led the College’s first strategic plan involving extensive stakeholder input from more than 700 faculty, staff, students, alumni, business and community leaders. She also was executive director of the Stark State College Foundation. Jones led grant and private fundraising efforts that attracted more than $50 million in federal, state, local, public and private funding to support students, academic programs and operations. She leveraged private and public partnerships to secure building funds and equipment for the Health Sciences Building, W.R. Timken Center for Information Technology, Ralph Regula Wellness and Therapy Center, Automotive Technology Center, Silk Auditorium, Dental Hygiene Clinic and the Advanced Technology Center.
During her tenure at Stark State, she also served as vice president for advancement and student services, executive assistant to the president and director of marketing and communications. Committed to student access and success, Jones led many efforts in the community to provide scholarship opportunities for Stark State students. She was instrumental in the College’s tremendous enrollment growth and the name change from Stark Technical College to Stark State College.
Jones holds a PhD in Higher Education Leadership from the University of Nebraska; an MBA with honors from Ashland University, where she is a member of the Academic Hall of Fame; and a BA from the University of Mount Union, where she graduated magna cum laude with majors in English, communications and Spanish. She is a member of Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society for Business.
A native of Stark County, Jones is a past president of the Jackson-Belden Chamber of Commerce and the Northeast Ohio Naval Academy Parents club. She served on the boards of the David YMCA, Canton Joint Engineering Council, Canton Museum of Art Board and CYC Recreation Center Board.
Jones and her husband Greg reside in Jackson Township.
Stark State College is a two-year state college offering more than 230 associate degree, options, one-year certificates and career enhancement certificates. The College, located in Jackson Township, has an enrollment of 15,551 credit students and approximately 2500 non-credit students. The College is the eighth largest employer in Stark County.
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