Influential Sociology Professor Terry Jones to Retire

By Ginger Staley
Campus Editor
Model Professor: Dr. Terry Jones created the social work depatment, the criminal justic department and ethical stuides program. He has been with CSUEB for 36 years.

           After 36 years at the university, Cal State East Bay will lose its champion for social diversity and justice, Dr. Terry Jones of the sociology department.

            Jones will retire, but his legacy will not.

            Dubbed “CSUEB’s warrior for equity and diversity” by his colleague Dr. Gale Young, Jones is leaving the university with a throng of achievements behind him.

            Jones is the chair of the faculty diversity and equity committee and spearheads the university’s diversity plan, which is to be unveiled next year. He also started a program called Project YES (Youth Experiencing Success) for children in Richmond that offered tutoring, educational supplies, counseling for their parents and trips to colleges, museums and computer labs.

Students in the Ethnic Studies program or criminal justice department also owe their thanks to Jones. He initiated both programs at the university.

The Ethnic Studies program was once separated into individual fields of study between Latino, Asian, American Indian and African studies, but Jones thought it would be more beneficial to bundle them together.

“In a society like California with such great diversity, it is part of the educational experience for all students,” said Jones. To revitalize and create it under the umbrella of ethnic studies, that’s part of the general education package, meant that it would have more value to more of our student population.”

He also helped to redesign the sociology major. After years of hard work, Jones was able to establish an accredited social work department, despite the university’s financial decline in the early 2000s.

“There is great statewide demand for more master’s level social workers,” said Jones, when asked why he created the major.

Jones feels that diversity on campus still has a way to go, despite all the progress made. For starters, he says the administration does not fully incorporate faculty input about diversity when it makes its decisions about how to allocate money.

“There’s been a little progress, but a lot more needs to be done. A lot greater effort needs to be made by this administration in valuing and appreciating diversity beyond just saying it,” said Jones.

Jones asserts that higher education institutions are ill-fitted for women, people of color and homosexuals because they were created to teach “young white boys how to become older white gentlemen.”

“Underrepresented students are still marginalized to the periphery of the university…It creates a tension and anxiety that makes it difficult for the learning process…To be educated you have to feel secure. You have to feel safe. You have to feel good about yourself.”

One way the university can remedy this situation, said Jones, is to hire more diverse faculty that represents the population in the community.

But many of his suggestions have been ignored, or vehemently protested. Jones has often been met with opposition by the university for trying to implement things on his social justice agenda. He was “shunned” by the Academic Senate for years, said Young.

“Because of my persistence in dealing with issues of diversity and equity and social justice, there are people who have put me at arms length and who have made sure that I don’t get elected to offices or such things anymore…They don’t like me because I call it the way it is.”

Some are also ill at ease when Jones broaches the subjects of racism, sexism and homophobia at Cal State East Bay.

“It embarrasses them. It makes them uncomfortable and they don’t want to have anything to do with it,” said Jones.

But Jones says that he’s so used to people feeling uncomfortable when he brings up sensitive issues that he does not recognize it anymore.

“When you are as well versed in race, discrimination, prejudice and have as much experience as Terry, you could get discouraged when you see others limit and mute multicultural issues, refuse to include the expertise of faculty of color…or put diversity issues just before adjournment,” said Young.

But if one thing has hindered Jones’ ambitions more than stubborn administrators, it’s money.

Budget cuts have not only set him back when he was trying to revamp the sociology department, but it also means the state cannot hire as many of his social work students when they graduate. The decline of the state’s budget also shut down Project YES.

Jones would not identify his biggest accomplishment. A humble man, he is simply happy that things have changed.

“This is a hell of a lot better place than when I came here in 1974,” he said. “It’s like, when you mentioned affirmative action and diversity and inclusion back then, it was like you were an outlaw. Now, you’re on the side of the law.”

This quarter, Jones is teaching just one graduate level class, which he says is very fulfilling compared to undergraduate classes because he gets to work with individuals rather than a horde of students.

When he first began to consider retirement, he was worried that the tradition of social equality would not be adequately carried on, but he soon realized this was foolish.

The African American faculty and staff scholarship he heads will now be carried on by new members, who are carrying out its mission as good or even better than he did, said Jones.

Overall, he has a sanguine outlook on Cal State East Bay’s future.

“Moving from a situation of denial and ignorance to an understanding of the importance of an institutional response to our diversity is beginning to take hold. I feel very good about that.”

Once retired, Jones plans to spend time with his family, travel with his wife and “play around in the dirt.”