By Lindsey Tercilla (4JM)
Newly selected Henderson State University President Glendell Jones (LLMT 96) has joined an elite group. As of July 1, he became one of 11 UF Law alumni to rise to the presidency of a university or college.
In doing so, Jones also became the first black president of any traditionally white institution in Arkansas.
“Growing up a poor kid from an uneducated family was the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome,” Jones said. “It’s because of this that I believe there is no better place to make a difference in the lives of young people than higher education.”
The Henderson State presidency had been open three times in the last 10 years, Jones said. As a Henderson State alumnus with an accounting degree, Jones felt called to the 3,779-student public liberal arts college. He applied for the position the third time it opened.
“The fact that it’s my alma mater had a special role in it,” he said. “It’s a very special opportunity for me to pay it forward.”
Jones earned a juris doctor from the University of Arkansas. After taking tax courses while at Arkansas, Jones decided to specialize in tax and attend UF Law. He said his time in UF Law’s Graduate Tax program taught him how to advocate and analyze.
“I’ve had to be an advocate and a strong communicator and that’s a skill set you can only acquire through such a program,” he said. “It’s the best LL.M.T. program in the country, period.”
U.S. News & World Report rankings go a long way to supporting Jones’ assessment. The program is ranked first among public law schools and second overall in the nation.
As a UF Law student, Jones was a graduate assistant to Professor Michael Friel. Graduate assistants, Friel said, are selected by a professor to assist the professor with his or her research and are chosen based on merit.
“Glen impressed me on a number of levels. He had a really extraordinary work ethic and that was apparent,” he said. “I was very glad to see that he went into teaching because the way he worked with students made it clear that he’d be a great teacher.”
Friel believes that Jones’ transition into higher education seemed natural, and that Jones’ love of tax determined his teaching path.
“Tax brought him into the educational environment where he was ready to flourish,” Friel said.
After graduating from UF Law, Jones taught at Arkansas State and simultaneously built a small private practice that catered to attorneys and CPAs.
In his spare time, Jones enjoys fly fishing, taking daily walks and spending time with his wife and two children. He and his wife met during law school and they have been married for 17 years.
Jones taught at both Arkansas State and Henderson State after leaving private practice. Jones believes that tax played a large role in preparing him for where he is today.
“Learning to communicate complex matters in a manner that is easily understood by others has served me very well. As a result, I truly believe that if you can do taxation you can do anything,” he said.
Friel also believes that Jones’ understanding of what a professor does will allow him to excel in his position as president.
In addition to understanding the needs of faculty, Jones has a drive for community service.
“When you dealt with Glen you recognized you were dealing with someone who really cared about the community he was a part of,” Friel said.
Jones’ advice to current law students revolves around service.
“Pursue your dreams and make serving others your passion,” Jones said. “Live a life in which you strive to make a difference in the lives of others and you will find that everything else will take care of itself.”