Variety has been the spice of life for Jones at Adams State College

(05-29-2008)

Whether it was working with Adams State College students, faculty, or staff, Gary Jones, director of facilities services and procurement, was reliable and professional, and he was well-known for his sense of humor and quick wit.

Bill Mansheim, vice president of business and finance, said: "Gary Jones is my 'Yoda' (the fictional character in the Star Wars films). He has been invaluable to me. I've depended on his wisdom."

Jones was hired to run the College Center, now called the Student Union Building, in 1987. In 2004 he became director of purchasing and two years later became director of facilities services and procurement. He retires from Adams State this spring.

Jones began his professional vocation as a teacher. "My first job was for the Alma Public Schools in Nebraska," he said. "I taught French, English, psychology and was the wrestling coach and junior high cheerleader sponsor." Multi-tasking soon became his calling card throughout his career. Before taking his position at Adams State, Jones worked for Otero Junior College. He was the student center director, counselor, and director of all non-curricular activities. "It was an 80 hour a week job," he said.

While at the community college, Jones took courses in business management, this coupled with his experience as a student center director, made him qualified for the position of the Adams State College Center director. "It was the next step," Jones said.

Never a dull moment

For the next 17 years, Jones coordinated day-to-day activities, supervised the student activity director, the dining services and the bookstore. He was also in charge when the Student Union Building underwent extensive remodeling in the early 90s. "Working with the students, and the variety of activities made my job a real pleasure," Jones said.

He said he has watched former students become colleagues, like Heather Heersink, an Adams State alumna and the college budget director. "We can count on Gary to keep humor in the workplace," she said. "He likes to make us laugh, which helps relieve stress when meeting budgetary deadlines."

The diversity of running the SUB and working with students would have made Jones happy to end his professional career that way, but the college administration had other plans. Mansheim asked Jones if he would accept the position as director of purchasing. "I was very reluctant to make the move," Jones said. "I loved the college center. However, there were problems in purchasing and I saw it as a new opportunity and challenge."

Quinton Cada, a 2007 psychology graduate, worked with Jones while he was Associated Students and Faculty president. "Gary was easy to work with. He personified Adams State's open door policy, and he made purchasing paperwork very smooth and fun."

"The students' exuberance is contagious," Jones said. "I am proud to be a small part of getting them where they want to be - it is really rewarding."

Coming to the aid of ASC, again

After settling in to his new position, Jones was again approached by Mansheim. "Bill asked me to become the director of facility services," Jones said. "This time I needed a week to think about it. Again I saw it as an opportunity and a challenge, and accepted."

This past year, the Extended Studies staff was required to move out of their third floor offices, due to structural issues. Dr. Sandra Starnaman, assistant provost for the Extended Campus, said: "With Gary's support everything was finished in a couple of days. He was unbelievably cooperative and helped move six or seven offices."

"One of the benefits of working here are so many neat people," Jones said. "I am proud of what I have done here."

Besides the satisfaction of seeing his efforts at Adams State meet with success, Jones said he enjoyed the camaraderie and support from the National Association of college Auxiliary Services, in which he has been a member for twenty years, including two years as the national chair. "When you are faced with a question or issue on your campus, you can make a call around the country and someone will have been faced with the same situation," he said. "It is also rewarding when you can help out a colleague from another part of the country."

Although throughout his profession, Jones has dealt with challenges and diversity he says he would not want it any other way. "Routine would drive me crazy," Jones said.

Jones and his wife, Barbara Griego-Jones, will remain in Alamosa, at least until Barbara is ready to retire. "I am looking forward to gardening, and focusing on my woodworking hobby," Jones said. "I won't abandon the campus, Bill (Mansheim) said he will call me back for special projects and I would love to do that."

By Linda Relyea