Professor Wayne Jones’ exceptional 39-year career honored at retirement celebration

Professor Wayne Jones’ exceptional 39-year career honored at retirement celebration

Wayne Jones

The weather outside the Lurie Building on May 30 may have been bright and sunny, but the real warmth was inside as colleagues, friends and former students showered their appreciation on retiring faculty member Wayne Jones.

A packed house of more than 60 people celebrated Jones’ 39-year tenure (the longest in the department) with a catered luncheon, a parade of speeches, and special gifts. Click here to see photos.

An MSE professor since 1978, Jones leaves the faculty ranks with a reputation for being a brilliant scholar, teacher, administrator, diversity champion, and researcher, particularly in the area of failure of metallic materials under creep or fatigue conditions. In their respective remarks, Alec Gallimore, Dean of Michigan Engineering, and past MSE department chairs Professors John Halloran and Ron Gibala thanked Jones for his service to the college and MSE the past four decades.

There was anything but fatigue, however, in his long and exceptional career, as MSE department chair Amit Misra noted in his opening remarks: “With 39 years of distinguished career at U-M, he is the longest serving faculty member in MSE, but perhaps the youngest at heart. After over four decades of teaching fatigue, he himself has not fatigued.”

Far from it.

In her presentation, Professor Tresa Pollock (a former MSE colleague and current professor and MSE department chair at UC-Santa Barbara) estimated that in his 39 years, Jones has lectured somewhere around 3,500 hours, mentored at least 55 graduate and post-doc students, published 200+ papers, and impacted tens of thousands of undergraduates.

“The point I want to make is that there are some people in academics who are not necessarily there for the students, and that was never true of Wayne,” said Pollock. “He was always all about the students.”

One of those students, Paul Krajewski ’89, ’91, and ‘94, now Director of the Vehicle Systems Research Laboratory at General Motors, agreed. “You had a huge impact on me and a lot of students at the time,” he told Jones. “It was phenomenal working for you. You always had the students’ interests at heart.”

After his remarks, Jones receives a standing ovation.Also at the heart of Jones’ career was promoting diversity on campus. In 2007, Jones received the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award from U-M, arguably the university’s highest honor given to individuals for the pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion. The award acknowledged, among other things, his part in helping raise $10 million for diversity initiatives and scholarships for the Minority Engineering Program Office (MEPO). He also led the formation the College of Engineering’s first written diversity plan in 1997, and from 2008-2013 served as the associate director of U-M’s ADVANCE Program and director of the College of Engineering’s ADVANCE Program. Written remarks from the current director of ADVANCE, Jennifer Linderman, Professor of Chemical Engineering, read at the luncheon by Amit Misra, recognized Jones for his impactful service to the program that works on faculty recruitment, retention, climate and leadership – especially around issues of excellence and diversity, and in making U-M a better place for all faculty.

“Certainly Wayne has been incredibly generous with his time and so wisely counseled many of us,” Linderman wrote. “So I want to say thank you to Wayne from all of ADVANCE, and on behalf of all the faculty he supported and advised in that role.”

“Wayne did tremendous things for diversity and the university, and for that we are extremely grateful,” added Pollock in her remarks.

Though Jones will now transition to a far less involved role as emeritus faculty, there’s still no fatigue in his retirement forecast as he plans to spend more time pursuing his outside interests like hiking and photography.

“Wayne is the consummate teacher,” concluded fellow professor and friend John Allison, who’s known Jones for more than 40 years. “He doesn’t lecture, he teaches, and he has taught us all so very much, whether it’s metallurgy, photography, diversity, and many, many other things. We are all better off for having been his students.”