R. Thomas Jones, dean of Cal Poly’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, will step down as dean and return to the Architecture Department to teach and to expand the college’s Learn by Doing programs.
Jones, who has led the college since 2003, will remain dean until a successor is named – a task expected to be completed by mid-summer 2012. The 65-year-old said he has been eager to return to teaching but waited until the university could complete its recent search for a new provost, who oversees the college deans.
“My tenure as dean has been incredibly fulfilling and satisfying, but now it’s time for a new person with a fresh perspective to guide the college to an even higher level,” Jones said. “I have enjoyed working closely with our talented faculty to create unique learning opportunities for our students.
“I’m grateful to our faculty for their efforts through these tough financial challenges to enhance the college’s excellent reputation while attracting interest from students throughout the world.”
Noting that Jones also helped expand Cal Poly’s connections to major industry and civic leaders, Provost Robert Koob said, “Tom Jones has brought great energy and wonderfully creative ideas to the university, and he will continue to make valuable contributions to Cal Poly. We’re particularly interested in expanding opportunities for our students to have more hands-on experiences, and Tom’s efforts in his new role will be critical to that part of our strategy.”
In addition to teaching, Jones will work to expand the college’s Metro Programs, which he initiated during his tenure as dean. The Metro Programs are in place in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego; they connect practicing professionals with faculty to teach Cal Poly students as well as help provide internships for students. The programs are an important part of Cal Poly’s renowned hands-on, Learn by Doing approach to teaching.
“These opportunities benefit students and faculty by involving them in world-class cities and premier professional practices,” Jones said. “Expansion of these programs has been a longtime goal of the faculty and the university.’’
Since arriving at Cal Poly, Jones has helped achieve top-tier national rankings for all five programs in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design and helped position the college as a recognized leader in sustainable community design, interdisciplinary courses and practitioner-educational partnerships. Independent publications and surveys show that Cal Poly’s alumni in these fields rank among the most desirable young professionals by major employers in the West and other parts of the country.
Jones worked with then-President Warren J. Baker and others to establish Cal Poly’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. He continues to serve as its chairman. Jones also implemented the college's first interdisciplinary studio lab and helped found Architecture + Construction Alliance, comprised of deans and department heads from across the nation committed to expanding interdisciplinary education and research. He created the university’s first interdisciplinary research institute – the Planning, Design and Construction Institute, which provides summer grants to younger faculty. Also while Jones was dean, two significant buildings were funded and built: The Construction Innovations Center and the Simpson Strong-Tie Materials Demonstration Lab.
“All accomplishments are a team effort,” Jones said. “As dean, my role was to connect talented faculty to innovative practitioners and civic leaders and to foster rich teaching and research.
“Working together, we also bolstered broader engagement with industry partners and increased donor support. If we did not have outstanding students and terrific faculty, none of the college’s accomplishments the past decade would have been possible.”