In the aftermath of the abrupt termination of his top role at the University of Iowa in 2008, Dr Phillip Jones confronted the Press-Citizen with a surprising, unjust judgment by the then president of the university.
Dr. Nick Colangelo, the former Dean of Education, wrote that “when Phillip Jones left campus, it became a more multicultural, compassionate and truthful environment than it had been in the more than 40 years since he started.” Several stories are told in Phillip Jones’ must-read inspirational biography, “Nothing Beats Disappointment but an Attempt.” The former Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students ended his minority career. Initially, black students were the focus of recruitment activities, but this grew quickly to include Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, women, the elderly, and students of all sexual orientations.
How did Phillip Jones get the job?
Through Phillip Jones’ continuous travels across Iowa to attract minority candidates, he discovered that hiring color students to attend Iowa University was and remains a matter of intimate communication.
To combat negative perceptions about the overwhelmingly white institution, he got to know the graduates, their families and their neighborhoods. Whenever he saw a group of minority students he sensed the anxiety keenly. His goal was to help them understand how to feel safe and relaxed in a new cultural environment.
He developed his first recruitment program to tour high schools in eastern and western Iowa. For low-income and minority students in border cities. Each other week Phillip Jones spent on the road visiting schools and neighborhoods. From Omaha to Des Moines to Moline and all over the area. He toured more than 35 schools to see whether their recruitment demographics were viable.
Entering a school wasn’t uncommon just hearing the teachers clarify cordially. Why their schools didn’t have students that applied for such a service. Phillip Jones states. I have encountered sensitive emotional circumstances on many occasions. When members of the school team felt nervous just reluctant to address social problems.”