Dr. Tom Jones, president of Williams Baptist University since 2012, has announced that he will leave Williams later this year for a position in California. Jones has accepted a post on the executive management staff of the California Baptist Foundation.
“It has been my humble honor and privilege to have served as president and I am gratefully indebted for the wonderful opportunity the Board of Trustees has given me these past 5 ½ years,” Jones said. “During that time, I have been blessed to serve with incredible board members, faculty, staff and denominational leaders who have unfailingly expressed their support for the university.”
Jones is the sixth president in the 76-year history of Williams. The school has enjoyed a number of major advancements during his tenure, including a name change last month to Williams Baptist University and a seven percent jump in enrollment this fall. The university has expanded its academic and athletic programs significantly and received several major gifts, including a $3 million estate in 2016.
During Jones’s presidency, Williams has completed construction of the Belle Hall residence facility and renovations that resulted in the Billie Harty Dining Room, Eagles Athletic Annex, Joy Ring Student Success Center and Jerry D. Gibbens Atrium. It added 42 acres to its campus footprint, as well, giving the Walnut Ridge institution a campus of nearly 250 acres.
“Though Gail and I are looking forward to this new challenge and what it means for our family, we are confident in the future of WBU and the people who accomplish so much through their extraordinary commitment to our Lord,” Jones said.
Board Chair J.R. Cox of Walnut Ridge noted, “We are excited for Tom and Gail as they pursue this new opportunity, but we are also sad to see a very effective president and these wonderful friends move away. The good news is that Dr. Jones is leaving Williams in great shape, which will be a tremendous asset as we move ahead with our search for the next president.”
Cox announced that Dr. Kenneth Startup, history professor and former academic dean at Williams, will serve as interim president. A presidential search committee will be named in coming days, and the university will publicize details of the search at that time.
Jones’s resignation will be effective December 1. A reception in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Jones has been scheduled for Thursday, November 16, in the rotunda of Swaim Administration Building. The drop-in reception will run from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Jones will be serving with the California Baptist Foundation, which raises and manages financial resources for California Southern Baptists. The foundation currently manages over $100 Million for Baptists and their ministries.
Williams is a Christian university in Walnut Ridge. It is owned and operated by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.