Back to top


Jones recognized for contributions to higher education and students

Kam King
March 23, 2015

Leading by inspiring others

Jones, Susan R. 9-12 Susan Robb Jones




Susan Robb Jones is the epitome of an academic leader: she shows students that they too can contribute to the field of higher education.

This innate ability, in addition to her large scholarly body of work, has led to the American College Personnel Association awarding Jones the 2015 Contribution to Knowledge Award. Recognizing outstanding contributions to the profession, the award is one of the organization’s top honors.

Graduate students who work with Jones, professor of higher education and student affairs in the College of Education and Human Ecology, find themselves changed after being touched by her mentorship.

As one nominator and previous graduate student stated, “It was in Susan’s course that I finally had a teacher who not only empowered me as a learner, but who also empowered me as a knower, as someone who could make a contribution to knowledge, and as someone who could teach others.”

Tricia Shalka, a current doctoral student in higher education and student affairs, remarked on her first impression of the professor. “She has such an incredible way of asking profound questions that have always helped me think more deeply and richly in taking the quality of my work to the next level.”

As the director of EHE’s Higher Education and Student Affairs program, Jones mentors students who are still finding their way in the field.

“Susan’s scholarship is substantial, innovative, accessible and conducted with integrity,” one nominator stated. “I am fortunate that it has been the driving force behind my own work.”

She hasn’t just made a lifelong impact on her students. Jones’ work is looked to as a leading standard in the field.

Spanning more than two decades, and including over 45 publications, Jones’ scholarly work informs her peers on psychosocial development, social identities, intersectionality, intercultural engagement and service learning.

She collaborated with Golden Jackson and other faculty to launch Ohio State’s Service-Learning Initiative and the Service-Learning Scholars Roundtable. She also initiated Ohio State’s service-learning leadership courses.

“She has ‘done it all’ as a productive scholar, wise counsel, dedicated servant leader and creative visionary,” said Cheryl Achterberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology.

Jones is frequently called upon by university leadership to weigh in and consult on significant initiatives.

“I have Dr. Susan Robb Jones to thank for much of this outstanding and collaborative work, including an expanded graduate student assistantship program, faculty engagement in developing the Second-Year Transformational Experience program and her creation and growth of Ohio State’s Student Personnel Assistantship program,” said Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president of student life.

Research making groundbreaking strides

Community service and service learning have been significant themes in Jones’ research and contributions to knowledge.

Jones, an affiliate faculty member in Ohio State’s Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program, analyzes student experiences and learning about self and others. Through her work, she has helped move service-learning scholarship from descriptive of positive learning outcomes to a rigorous examination of the learning process as mediated by power.

“Her work is original in its blending of multiple dimensions of identity development and integration of person (the identity focus) and environment (the service-learning focus),” one nominator said.

The Model of Multiple Dimensions of Identity (MMDI) that Jones developed in her dissertation research by working alongside Marylu McEwen, professor emerita of University of Maryland, is one of the most widely cited and influential models in student development literature.

The dynamic model, the first of its kind, focuses on how students are comprised of multiple social identities. The model was extended through the research of Jones’ doctoral advisee, Elisa Abes.

Jones serves as the co-editor of the highly regarded Student Services: A Handbook for the Profession, which speaks to the high regard others have for her work. Her research has been published in the top-tier Journal of College Student Development, Journal of Higher Education and NASPA Journal about Women in Higher Education.

Her remarkable knowledge in the field also comes from her experience as an accomplished administrator. She has held a variety of positions including the dean of students at Trinity College and coordinator of residential life at St. Lawrence University.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from St. Lawrence University and her PhD in college student personnel administration from the University of Maryland.

Jones shares the 2015 Contribution of Knowledge Award with Kristen Renn, professor of higher, adult and lifelong education at Michigan State University.

They were honored at the American College Personal Association’s annual conference on March 6 in Tampa, Florida.


Suggested Stories