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A Legacy of Transformed Lives 

Shirley Jones, center, seated, initiated the summer tours to Africa. Back row, at right, Robert Miller, who now leads the tours. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 14, 2017) – Distinguished Service Professor Shirley Jones fully retired in December, and is already working on a book about her uncle, William E. Artis, a sculptor and potter during the Depression and WWII.

“I’m on the phone with my collaborative author and I am enjoying having the time to do the research and to begin a draft of that book,” said Jones, who believes that while it is important to have a plan for one’s retirement, it is also important to pay attention to one’s overall life.

Jones left behind a legacy at the School of Social Welfare of exemplary service, excellence in teaching and mentorship.

Highlights of her career include being honored with The University at Albany Foundation’s Academic Laureate Award, being named a SUNY-wide Distinguished Service Professor, and being selected as a Collins Fellow.

In 2000, Jones created the U.S.-Africa Partnership for Building Stronger Communities, which has fostered the summer study tours to Africa and many other kinds of collaboration. This study tour is now directed by Professor Robert Miller. In 2005, Jones helped to establish a fund-raising committee to provide scholarships for students who were not financially able to participate in the summer tours and to date, more than 50 students have received scholarships.

Jamie Dughi Hogenkamp ’12, was one of three UAlbany students who traveled to South Africa in 2011 on the last trip Jones led under the U.S.-Africa Partnership.

“That trip and Dr. Jones changed the course of my life,” Hogenkamp said. “Through her teachings, guidance, insight and love, Dr. Jones opened our eyes such that the world would never look the same, challenging each of us to find beauty and strength in every moment.”

After completing her degree in social welfare at UAlbany, Hogenkamp went on to Albany Law School, graduating (summa cum laude) as salutatorian in 2015. She is a law clerk to the Hon. Michael J. Garcia at the New York State Court of Appeals.

“Dr. Jones empowered her students through the exchange of knowledge and experiential learning; inspired us to engage in and build stronger communities; and encouraged us to be agents of change and unity,” Hogenkamp said. “Still today, Dr. Jones often reminds me that ‘out of chaos, comes creativity.’ This is her essence, to blaze a trail where others see impassable woods, leaving markers along the way for those that follow. Dr. Jones came into my life as my professor; today, she is my family.”

The study tour to Africa is a transforming trip for many, according to Jones. “It is an awakening of an appreciation for getting to know a place where most of the information you have about it is negative. When you learn about the strength and struggles of the people and the positive outcomes, you are surprised. The opportunity to work with the University in terms of opening some of the areas in Africa it had not explored was exciting for me.”

Jones taught graduate courses in policy and planning, as well as community development and organization. An area of special interest was rural communities and she wrote several articles and edited two books on rural social work issues.

“I worked with the Census Bureau and learned that it is difficult in many poor rural communities to get a true count of people living in those communities,” Jones said. She helped the Census Bureau find ways to encourage rural residents to respond to the U.S. Census, and assisted the bureau in improving methods of locating people in outlying areas.

One unique aspect of UAlbany is the opportunities students and faculty members have to connect with both urban and rural communities, Jones said.

“There really is a need for universities like the University at Albany, and other organizations and government entities, to be more mindful of rural development which includes improving the education and training of rural residents and their communities,” she said. “The opportunity for faculty to help make the University more mindful of community issues and concerns is open through a number of means. For example, through educating their students and academic units; using their teaching and research skills; publications and community service; and where appropriate – advising the University Senate.” Jones served on the University Senate for several years.

In 2010, she was elected to be a National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Pioneer. She recently received an award from Southern Mississippi State University, where she served as Dean of Social Work for 10 years. She has also received awards from the Albany branch of the NAACP, the city of Albany, the Department of Commerce Bureau of the Census, the American Humane Society, the National Association of Black Social Workers, and was named Social Worker of the Year from the Mississippi NASW. Jones also has been given the Distinguished Alumni Award from both Columbia and New York Universities.

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