MURRAY, Ky. — Murray State University recently named Dr. Jesse D. Jones, 1964 alumnus and retired senior advisor at Albemarle Corporation, one of the recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award.
Murray State presents the Distinguished Alumni Award annually to alumni who have made meaningful contributions to their profession on a local, state and national level. Established in 1962, the award is the highest honor granted by the Murray State University Alumni Association, and its recipients include Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, renowned authors, research scientists, physicians and educators.
Jones graduated from Murray State University in 1964 with a double major in chemistry and mathematics. A native of Marshall County, Jones was a nontraditional student and earned his degrees while he was married with two young children and working evenings at a plant in Calvert City. While his schedule prevented him from enjoying daily activities on campus, Jones considers his classes at Murray State an incredible experience that led him to future success.
“I have such an appreciation for Murray State. It was my gateway into the world and into the next thirty years of my life with my career,” said Jones. “Without Murray State, I don’t think I would be where I am today. Within my line of work, you have to be willing to take risks and be creative. My experiences at Murray State helped me feel comfortable taking risks.”
After graduating, Jones moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and went to work for Ethyl Corporation, which in 1994 was divided into Ethyl and Albemarle. Both companies had facilities in Baton Rouge. For over thirty years, Jones performed chemistry, engineering and sales assignments for the corporation. Early in his career, he worked as a plastics engineer and helped develop the technologies to use PVC piping in cold water systems. His contributions to research and development in polymers, plastics and materials were the basis for 19 patents to the Ethyl and Albemarle Corporation.
As his career continued, his responsibilities shifted to technical support for manufacturing and sales. Jones supported projects such as the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals like Ibuprofen and of bromine-based chemicals that are used in a broad range of applications. Throughout his tenure, Jones had the opportunity to travel the world with the Ethyl and Albemarle Corporation to promote its manufacturing facilities and customer operations.
“I didn’t have a job. I had an adventure,” said Jones. “I had some of the most marvelous experiences during my career visiting Asia and Europe and got to meet some of the world’s most incredible people. I’ve been so fortunate, and I’m grateful for what I’ve experienced in my life.”
Since his retirement from Albemarle Corporation in 1999, Jones has dedicated his time to Murray State by generously supporting student scholarships, endowing professorships and contributing to faculty honors, and funding state-of-the-art research facilities. Jones has been previously honored over the past several years by Murray State, including the Golden Horseshoe Award and earning an honorary doctorate. In 2013, the Board of Regents unanimously voted to rename the College of Science, Engineering and Technology in his honor.
“Dr. Jones’ generous support for the faculty and students of the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology has been transformative for us. You can’t help but be impressed by someone who remembers his roots and is willing to share so that future generations will have the opportunity to know similar success,” said Dr. Stephen Cobb, dean of the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “On a personal note, I’ve grown to value Dr. Jones’ friendship. His perspective has always been constructive and refreshing, as we’ve worked together on initiatives to advance the college. His professional experiences have given him an understanding of what we try to do in preparing students for careers and graduate study.”
The Murray State community not only notices Jones’ impact on students within the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology but also on its faculty. Senior presidential advisor for strategic initiatives, Dr. Renee Fister was one of the first recipients of the Jesse D. Jones Endowed Professorship when she served as a professor within the department of mathematics and statistics and is thankful for Jones’ support for his alma mater.
“Dr. Jones is a man whose actions speak volumes. With his support to enhance the teaching and scholarship for professors, he grants faculty the opportunity to make a difference with our students. Additionally, he has given guidance, wisdom and his time to help me dream a little more,” said Fister. “He is a mentor who celebrates in achievements and encourages me to reach for the stars while reminding me to lend a hand to help another. I am humbled and honored to be afforded the opportunity to know and learn from Dr. Jones.”
Jones will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Award banquet, to be held April 21 at 6 p.m. in the CFSB Center Murray Room, and will have the opportunity to speak about his professional experiences. Those who wish to support him can attend the banquet with tickets available for $30 at murraystate.edu/distinguishedalumni until April 14.