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Jones named director of Extension

By Charlie Stott

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 35 - July 11, 1996

C. Clark Jones has been selected the new director of Virginia Cooperative Extension, according to Andy Swiger, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

A member of Cooperative Extension for nearly 20 years, Jones has served the past year as interim director. During this period, he has overseen a major restructuring effort within the organization.

"Clark Jones brings many strengths to the directorship," said Swiger in announcing Jones' appointment. "He obviously has great knowledge of the organization and the confidence of our faculty and staff. He has demonstrated boldness of action and sound judgment. I look forward to Virginia Cooperative Extension prospering in its mission of serving the people of Virginia under his leadership."

Noting that he first joined 4-H more than 40 years ago in his native Chesterfield County, Jones said, "For me, being named director of Virginia Cooperative Extension is the realization of virtually a lifelong dream and goal."

Provost Peggy Meszaros said that Jones "brings successful experience, enthusiasm, and commitment to his new role as Cooperative Extension director. He has the full support of the university's administration to continue the progressive programs of Extension as we approach the new millennium."

Jones, who will also serve as associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, began his career with Virginia Tech in 1971 as an instructor in its Center for Continuing Education. In 1977, he became a Cooperative Extension program leader in community resource development, working with the Extension staff and volunteers in determining and setting up community development educational programs.

He later became district director for Extension's East Central District, with responsibility for 180 employees delivering VCE educational programs and for a regional 4-H continuing-education center. In 1991, he was selected to head the formation of the Institute for Leadership Development. Later that same year, he was named assistant to the director of VCE, responsible for advising the director on strategy and for such special projects as grant and contract funding, governmental relations and strategic planning.

When William A. Allen retired last year, Jones was named interim director, just as a self-study of Virginia Cooperative Extension was being finished. He worked with other university administrators in fashioning a comprehensive restructuring of the organization. The restructuring plan, designed to guide VCE into the next century, has five broad directives: reducing the administrative structure, investing in technology, focusing priorities, strengthening relationships with local governments, and increasing revenues from non-general funds.

During the past year, he has held nearly 80 meetings with Extension clientele, employees, and local and state government officials concerning the restructuring and future of Virginia Cooperative Extension. "We are going to place our emphasis on those within VCE who have direct impact on the state's people and communities: our agents, specialists, and volunteers. We want to further strengthen citizen involvement through our Leadership Councils across the commonwealth-that means giving local citizens and governments a strong voice in what we do," Jones said.

Jones said that in 1995 alone there were 1.1 million participants in Extension programs, and that more than 41,000 volunteers helped deliver those programs.

"Over the years, Extension has had many positive effects in every corner of the state. Today, we have to be able to demonstrate the economic and other positive impacts of our educational programs," he added.

He noted five outcomes he wants to see Extension's educational programs contribute to: 1) a safe and secure food and fiber system; 2) healthy and well-nourished youths and families; 3) an agricultural system that is competitive in the global economy; 4) enhanced economic opportunity and quality of life "for our citizens and our communities"; and 5) greater harmony with the environment.

Jones earned his doctorate in adult education from North Carolina State where he also received his bachelor's and masters' degrees.