Mississippi College | Beacon Magazine

Service Before Self

"The desire to improve the lives of others in our state has been the driving force of my professional life."

Fostering a culture of service in the organizations and institutions he has led has been Dan Jones’s signature. In recognition of his outstanding leadership and service to Mississippi College, the University of Mississippi, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), and the medical profession, MC honored Dr. Dan Jones as the Alumnus of the Year.

“Seldom in our history have we had the opportunity to honor an alumnus who has made so many contributions in so many fields,” said Lee Royce, president of Mississippi College. “We are grateful for Dr. Jones’s service to the state and nation, to his alma mater, and especially, to God.”

In July 2009, Dr. Jones became the 16th chancellor of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). He is responsible for a four-campus university with a student enrollment of 20,844, including the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.

Found in Translation

Dr.Dan Jones served as a medical missionary to South Korea from 1985-1992. While he made many memories and formed many relation- ships there, one stands out. “I shared the gospel with a patient in my limited Korean, and he told me he would like to pray to receive Christ. I asked a Korean friend to ask him again, just to be sure the language barrier hadn’t been an issue. The trans- lator spoke with him, the patient replied, and then the translator said, ‘He told me he’d been waiting all his life for someone to tell him that story – the story of Christ.’” 

Prior to becoming chancellor, Dr. Jones served as vice chancellor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and dean of the medical school. While at UMMC, Dr. Jones assisted in the development of the new physician’s assistant program at Mississippi College, arranging for students in the MC program to perform their clinical work at UMMC.

Dr. Jones served as a medical missionary to South Korea with the International Mission Board from 1985-1992, and periodically returns to South Korea to conduct humanitarian work. His volunteer leadership positions have included serving as president of the American Heart Association from 2007-2008 and as a member of the Mississippi College board of trustees. 

A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Jones graduated from MC with a degree in chemistry.

“My time at Mississippi College prepared me in more ways than I can count,” Dr. Jones said. “Like many people graduating from rural school systems in the 1960s, there were some gaps in my academic preparation. The professors at MC helped me fill in those gaps and prepared me for medical school, while MC’s focus on Christian life strengthened my faith.” 

Under Dr. Jones’s leadership, the University of Mississippi has posted record enrollment and earned national accolades. Forbes magazine named Ole Miss one of America’s best value colleges; Reader’s Digest named the university’s Honor College as one of the top three in the nation; Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 recognized the university as one of the best and most interesting universities in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain; The Chronicle of Higher Education named Ole Miss one of the top 10 colleges at which to work; and Newsweek magazine ranked the university “Most Beautiful” for its campus and its student body.

“My most memorable moment since becoming chancellor might be surprising,” Dr. Jones said. “I’m proud of our students, our Honors College, and the accolades the university has received. But the other part of our university is providing access to higher education for students from poor backgrounds. We have a responsibility to help those students who are vulnerable. 

“I recently had a conversation on the steps of the Lyceum with a first generation college student who is now a sophomore here,” Dr. Jones continued. “Freshman year was very difficult for her, and she felt so accomplished to be a sophomore. She didn’t have an outstanding GPA, but she had confidence that she was going to make it, that she would become the first person in her family to earn a college degree. Transforming lives like hers is our role as a great American public university in a poor state.”

As chancellor, Dr. Jones has made service to others an integral part of the university’s mission, vowing to make service leadership “a part of the Ole Miss DNA.”

“A key thought for me when I was considering leaving UMMC to become chancellor at Ole Miss was tied to my feelings about the root cause of poor health in our state,” Dr. Jones said. “The root cause of poor health is poor education. As I contemplated making the move to chancellor, I saw the possibility to attack the challenges of poor health from the broader perspectives of education and business.

“As Mississippi’s flagship public university, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to move beyond the transformation of individual lives. We must participate in transforming our state, the nation, and the world.”

In February of 2013, members of the senior class of the University of Mississippi honored Dr. Jones’s lifetime of service leadership by creating a scholarship fund in his honor. According to senior class president Jon Daniel McKiever, the Daniel W. Jones, M.D. Service Before Self Scholarship Fund will be the “living legacy” of students who were freshmen when Dan Jones began his tenure. 

“We wanted to leave Ole Miss a gift that would be both sustainable and meaningful,” said McKiever. “What made Chancellor Jones a perfect candidate for the naming of our scholarship is his great passion for serving the students and the university.”

“Anything that embeds a commitment to service in our students and in the university moves us forward,” Dr. Jones said. “It makes me very happy that there will be a scholarship, not because it bears my name, but because it is a scholarship focused on service.

“Service is a privilege,” Dr. Jones said. “Those of us who have been blessed in many ways have an opportunity to serve, and service is a part of my own life because I’ve been so blessed. It’s very heartwarming to see others willing to share the same heart.”