President Starr Announces Appointment of L. Gregory Jones as Executive Vice President and Provost

April 20, 2016

Former longtime dean, professor at Duke Divinity School to join Baylor as chief academic officer on May 16

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WACO, Texas (April 20, 2016) – Following a unanimous recommendation from the university search committee, Baylor University President and Chancellor Ken Starr today announced the appointment of L. Gregory Jones, Ph.D., senior strategist for leadership education at Duke Divinity School and the Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry, as executive vice president and provost, effective May 16, 2016. His wife, the Rev. Susan Pendleton Jones, associate dean for ministerial formation at Duke Divinity School, also will join Baylor as senior fellow in the Institute for Faith and Learning.

"Dr. Greg Jones is a prolific and distinguished scholar much admired in American higher education for his visionary leadership, creativity and wisdom. His diverse experiences at a leadership level at Duke University provide him with exceptional insight into the challenges facing higher education, and we are delighted he will bring his extraordinary gifts of strategic and collaborative leadership and clear commitment to Pro Futuris to Baylor University and its academic enterprise," President Starr said.

"He is well known throughout the academy as an outstanding teacher, for his research that promotes interdisciplinary conversation among scholars and as a leader who cares deeply about cultivating the conditions in which individuals and institutions truly flourish," Starr said. "We welcome Greg and his wife, Susan, to Baylor, and we look forward to his collaboration across the University as we envision innovative ways to nurture Baylor's unique mission as a premiere Christian research university under Pro Futuris."

As the university's chief academic officer, Dr. Jones will lead Baylor's academic enterprise, which includes 12 schools and colleges, its research centers and institutes and the University Libraries. He will work closely with the Executive Council, Council of Deans, department chairs, faculty, staff and regents to articulate a unified academic vision and to foster excellence in teaching, learning and research within the context of a Christian worldview.

"I am deeply honored by the opportunity to serve Baylor University as its executive vice president and provost. My wife, Susan, and I have long admired Baylor's commitments, aspirations and leadership role in Christian higher education, and we have developed deep affection for the Baylor community and the rich history that inspires it," Jones said. "I also believe that Baylor's best days are still ahead, and I welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively across the University and beyond to help Baylor realize its promise as a leading Christian research university."

In its previous search, the provost search committee had vetted Dr. Jones along with dozens of other highly qualified applicants from around the country and had selected him as a finalist. In March, the reconstituted search committee interviewed Dr. Jones again and presented him to several university constituent groups, including the Executive Council, Council of Deans, Faculty Senate Executive Committee, vice provosts, department chairs, student representatives and a subset of regents, for questions and consideration. After receiving feedback from those meetings, the committee strongly endorsed Dr. Jones and was unanimous in its recommendation of him to President Starr.

"As chair of the search committee, let me first acknowledge the dedicated work of the committee and especially that of vice chair Dr. Thomas Kidd and search manager Ms. Rebecca Malzahn," said Terry Maness, D.B.A., dean of Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. "I am thrilled that Dr. Greg Jones will be our new executive vice president and provost. His 13 years of experience as a dean will serve him well, and his active involvement in leadership development and global engagement at Duke perfectly fit strategic areas of focus in Pro Futuris."

"I look forward to working with Dr. Greg Jones," said Ron Beal, L.L.M., professor of law at Baylor Law School and chair of the Faculty Senate. "He is a scholar and a teacher of the highest quality. He has all the attributes to thrive in his role as executive vice president and provost. I am confident that he will help us move to the next level of becoming a top institution of teaching and research in a Christian environment. We, as the Faculty Senate, look forward to working with him in shared governance of our wonderful University. We have no doubt that he will, as our chief academic officer, help all of us achieve the goals set forth in Pro Futuris."

A theologian whose work centers on the nature of forgiveness, the significance of Christian ministry and pastoral leadership, and social innovation and entrepreneurship, Dr. Jones also has provided strategic vision for leadership education at Duke Divinity and served as senior strategist for the Fuqua-Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics at Duke's Fuqua School of Business. He has served as Duke's chief international strategist to advance and coordinate the university's global engagement. From 1997-2010, Dr. Jones served as the 11th dean of Duke Divinity School.

"Greg Jones was a transformational dean of the Duke Divinity School and has been an outstanding citizen of the university at large," said Richard H. Brodhead, president of Duke University. "He combines eloquence and thoughtfulness with unusual powers of institutional creativity. He radiates joy in university life together with a deep respect for academic values. You have hired an outstanding leader: Duke's loss is Baylor's gain."

Jones earned his B.A. magna cum laude in 1980 from the University of Denver, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his master's degree in public policy and administration, also from Denver, in 1982, later earning his M.Div. summa cum laude and Ph.D. from Duke University in 1985 and 1988 respectively. He holds honorary degrees from North Carolina Wesleyan and Lycoming University.

The author or editor of 16 books, Dr. Jones also has published more than 200 articles and essays. His most recent book, Christian Social Innovation (Abingdon Press, 2016), focuses on faith communities and their own need for innovation, as demonstrated in a growing interest in starting new churches, developing fresh expressions for gatherings of community and discussions about how to cultivate a renewed sense of mission. His other books include Forgiving As We've Been Forgiven, coauthored with Celestin Musekura; Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry, coauthored with Kevin R. Armstrong; The Scope of Our Art: The Vocation of the Theological Teacher, co-edited with Stephanie Paulsell; and two books written with his wife in the Living the Good Life Together series (Forgiveness, Attentiveness) for the United Methodist Publishing House. An earlier book, Embodying Forgiveness, was named an Outstanding Book by Christianity Today and The Academy of Parish Clergy. He also has published Everyday Matters: Intersections of Life and Faith.

Dr. Jones is an active contributor to both scholarly and popular publications, with his reviews, opinion-editorials and other articles appearing in a variety of journals, magazines and other media, including a regular column for leadership education for Duke Divinity School's Faith and Leadership web magazine. He is on the editorial board of the journal Modern Theology and editor-at-large for The Christian Century. He has served on numerous boards and academic committees at Duke, and as a consultant on and co-convener of projects focused on Christian higher education, leadership and ministry. Last October, he was named senior advisor in Baylor's Institute for Faith and Learning, as he assisted Dr. Darin Davis in the development of the "Faith Animating ... Project." He also is an ordained elder in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.

As associate dean for ministerial formation at Duke Divinity School, Susan Pendleton Jones oversees the School's contextual education programs, which include Mentoring for Ministry and Student Life, Field Education, the Hispanic House of Studies and the Thriving Rural Communities Program. She is a frequent retreat leader for lay and clergy groups, and her writings have appeared in publications, including Faith and Leadership, The Christian Century and The Upper Room.

They have three children: Nathan, and his wife, Amy; Benjamin; and Sarah.

When he assumes the post in May, Dr. Jones will succeed Interim Provost Todd Still, Ph.D., The Charles J. and Eleanor McLerran Delancey Chair of the Dean of Truett Seminary and professor of Christian Scriptures.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.