Wallace L. Jones | 1934-1997
2nd leader: The 'face and a spirit' of The Consortium
Were it not for a scheduling miscue, the first director of The Consortium may have never met the second.
In January 1967, well into planning for the arrival of The Consortium’s first class of students, founder Sterling H. Schoen was on his way to Howard University to meet Dean Charles H. Hurst.
Hurst had headed up a communications study funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Welfare, and Schoen was interested in learning more about how its results could prepare future African American business students.
As it turns out, Hurst couldn’t make the meeting.
Instead, he asked his colleague, Wallace L. Jones — then Howard’s director of the Educational Advisory Center for the College of Liberal Arts — to stand in for him. The result was a 13-year collaboration as the two worked together to launch and build The Consortium from its founding until Schoen’s retirement in 1980.
Jones took over the reigns and served as CEO until 1996 — a year before his death. Throughout his tenure, he was revered as the face of the organization for hundreds of incoming students.
“Wally was beloved by all who knew him,” wrote Barbara Britton Jones in her book, Leading the Challenge of Change, The Consortium’s definitive history. “As a manager, he was hands-on — not as a micromanager, but as someone who did whatever it took to get the job done. Everyone who worked for Wally had a Wally story. Many have recounted that when there was a large mailing to get out, he would pull the entire staff together and the team would work and laugh at Wally’s antics and stories until they got it done.”
Jones was born Jan. 25, 1934, in Chillicothe, Ohio, to Charles A. Jones, a Baptist minister, and Roseanna Raney Jones. Together, they raised eight children – six boys and two girls. At Chillicothe High School, Wally Jones ran with the track team and played in the high school band.
After high school, he attended Howard University, where he majored in psychology and minored in science and mathematics. He graduated in 1960 “and took great pride in the fact that he earned 100 percent of his undergraduate expenses,” Barbara Jones (no relation) wrote. She continued:
Immediately after receiving his bachelor’s degree, he accepted a full-time position in the neurology department of Howard University’s medical school as a psychometrist administering psychological tests and evaluations. while working full time, wally also completed his master’s degree in psychology in 1962. In 1963, Wally left his psychometry position and joined the medical school’s Center for Youth and Community Studies as a staff associate. In that role, Wally assisted in the design and implementation of training programs designed for school dropouts and delinquents. Within a year, Wally moved on to become a research associate for Howard’s Communication Sciences Research Center where he investigated speech and language problems of freshmen.
Jones’ first association with The Consortium was as a summertime professor teaching at the first orientation program, then an eight-week program in math, English and business skills on the Washington University campus. The so-called Pre-Graduate Summer Studies Program was designed to prep the incoming MBA students for their business education.
Professor Schoen invited Wally to teach a communications course in The Consortium’s first Pre-Graduate Summer Studies Program. The course was purposed to heighten fellows’ awareness of the importance of Standard English in the business world. Wally accepted the offer and remained in St. Louis for the next 30 years.
During Wally Jones’ 16-year tenure as The Consortium’s director, and then chief executive officer, the organization added five member schools to the six that joined during Schoen’s tenure. He also added an alumni relations component to the organization and moved The Consortium to its first independent brand identity, separate and apart from the identity of its member universities.
In 2006, Wally Jones was recognized posthumously with the Sterling H. Schoen Achievement Award. At the ceremony that year, 1988 Consortium alumna Nicole Chestang delivered a tribute to Jones, suggesting that Schoen had named Wally as the successor “because he knew it was time to give his vision a face and a spirit.” According to Barbara Jones’ book:
(Chestang) referred to Wally as the “Pied Piper” of The Consortium and his followers included fellows, school representatives and corporate partners. Nicole went on to describe her time at Washington University and the opportunity to work in the Consortium of office. She shared that when she was with Wally, he was working that “Jones Magic: embracing fellows, supporting alumni, serving schools and encouraging the support of corporate partners.”