Brian K. Jones ’88
Syracuse University was high on the list of colleges Brian K. Jones ’88 considered during his senior year at Chicago’s renowned Whitney Young High School. Although accepted at SU, he took a financial package from another university, only to discover it didn’t suit him. He decided to transfer after his first year, but this time he followed his heart, came to Syracuse—and found a perfect fit. “The college-town environment was best for me,” he says. “I loved the University’s academic and athletic traditions, and SU was just the right size from a student population perspective.”
With his sights set on a career in engineering, Jones found the engineering curriculum at Syracuse just what he was looking for. “Syracuse University has a great engineering school with a great reputation,” he says. “My most meaningful experiences were tied to the school and the student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).” For two years, he chaired the ‘Weekend with Industry’ event, which recruited students for summer and permanent positions with corporations. The funds raised by the event also provided resources to support programming, including professional skills development, resume workshops, attendance at NSBE national and regional conferences, and tutoring, for minority engineering students.
Jones recalls many memorable experiences of his college years, including watching Big East basketball games and the football team’s tie with Auburn in the 1988 Sugar Bowl. The social activism of the students protesting the University’s investments in South Africa and the shanty house structures built on the Quad made lasting impressions on him.
Reconnecting with Campus
For the first time in many years, Jones returned to campus for the Coming Back Together event in fall 2014. A brief meeting with Chancellor Kent Syverud and his wife, Dr. Ruth Chen, inspired Jones to become more involved with the University. “I was really encouraged by the Chancellor’s vision for SU,” he says. “I was impressed by his focus on increased student involvement, continuing advances in academic excellence, and a commitment to diversity.”
His career has given him the opportunity to work across the United States and internationally, but Jones is once again living in Chicago to be closer to family. Now a member of the University’s Regional Council in Chicago, he plans to support the growth and development of the Syracuse University community in the area. “The University has very strong presence on the coasts—New York, Boston, D.C., and Los Angeles,” he says. “Our SU brand is strong on a national level, so I want to see what we can do here in Chicago to further strengthen our presence and lead the charge in the Midwest.” His goals include promoting the strength of the University’s academic programs, such as engineering, business, public policy, and journalism with alumni and potential students. “I also have a very strong interest in supporting the University’s diversity efforts for minorities and women, as well as promoting technical careers and entrepreneurship,” he says.