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Thomas A. Langford

JONES, J. KNOX, JR. (1929–1992). J. Knox Jones, Jr., scientist and university administrator, was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on March 16, 1929, to James and Virginia Jones. He had two brothers. He graduated from Lincoln High School in 1947 and entered the University of Nebraska, where he received his B.S. in zoology in 1951. He received an M.A. in zoology in 1953 at the University of Kansas and then served in the United States Army in Korea and Japan until 1955. From 1956 to 1965 he was in the reserves, where he attained the rank of captain. After military service, Jones returned to graduate school in Kansas and earned his Ph. D. in 1962, again in zoology. The university invited him to remain; he moved up the ranks to professor within six years, served as associate director of the Museum of Natural History, and became a nationally known specialist in mammalogy.

In 1971, Jones moved to Texas Tech University as graduate dean. Tech had recently been designated one of four major doctoral institutions in Texas and had been seeking a person with an outstanding research record to serve as a model for its faculty. Jones began immediately to develop the graduate and research programs, establishing new graduate faculty standards, encouraging the hiring and promotion of productive scholars, and seeking ways to reward strong research. He soon became vice president for research and graduate studies as well as graduate dean. During his administration the university research budget grew from $1 million to $14 million, and graduate programs and enrollment increased dramatically. During his administrative career at Tech, Jones continued an active program of research himself and developed an international reputation. He often said that the normal workday belonged to administrative duties, but nights and weekends belonged to his research. He led eighteen doctoral students to completion of their degrees while he continued to expand his already distinguished publication record. He published fourteen books and some 350 journal articles, most having to do with mammalian systematics. Perhaps his best-known books are Mammals of the Northern Great Plains (1983) and Orders and Families of Recent Mammals of the World (1984), authored and edited with several of his colleagues. When he resigned from administrative roles in 1984, Jones continued to teach, and his research proceeded with new vigor. He served as editor of a number of scientific journals, including the Journal of Mammalogy (1967–73) and the Texas Journal of Science (1985–92), and was on the boards of numerous research and professional associations. He established and was one of the strongest supporters of the Texas Tech University Press.

In 1986 Texas Tech named him a Paul Whitfield Horn Professor, the highest honor bestowed on Tech faculty who have achieved international reputations. He was granted honorary membership in the American Society of Mammalogists in 1992, an award that recognizes a lifetime of commitment to the discipline. Jones was a president of the society and the only person to receive the association's top three awards: honorary membership; the C. Hart Merriman Award for outstanding research, education, and service (1977); and the H. H. T. Jackson Award for outstanding service. He was named a fellow of the Texas Academy of Science in 1982 and Outstanding Texas Scientist in 1992. Jones married Janet Glock in September 1953; they had three daughters. He married Marijane Davis in June 1989. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in the summer of 1991 and succumbed on November 15, 1992. Only days before his death, he was still editing manuscripts, a number of which were published posthumously.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Thomas A. Langford, "JONES, J. KNOX, JR.," accessed March 28, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fjozl.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on May 3, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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