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Tom Jones
  Thomas C. Jones,
BBA '68, MBA '71
 

Alumnus Thomas Jones Gives $10 Million to Benefit Business Undergrads

5/10/2005 --

The generosity of alumnus Thomas Jones will enable the Ross School to offer BBA students experiences similar to what MBAs now receive.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Thomas C. Jones, a University of Michigan business school alumnus, has given $10 million to the U-M's Stephen M. Ross School of Business to make it possible for undergraduates to experience many of the programs usually provided only to MBA students.

Jones, retired president of CIGNA Retirement & Investment Services, was the Ross School's first executive-in-residence and director of its bachelor of business administration degree program in 2003-04. He says his gift will help make a highly rated undergraduate business program even better.

"The challenge is to take undergraduate business education at Michigan to a new level," said Jones, who received a BBA from Michigan in 1968 and an MBA in 1971. "Success ultimately will be the impact the BBA program has on the lives and professional development of students.

"It is my hope and intent that the resources provided by this endowment will enable the Ross School to offer to future generations of undergraduate business students an exceptional educational experience unattainable without this support."

The gift will establish the Thomas C. Jones Center for BBA Education, which will offer more opportunities for students to apply classroom theory to real business situations, incorporate liberal arts into the business curriculum and develop leadership skills.

It also will provide the necessary resources to develop a series of "capstone" action-based learning courses that integrate interdisciplinary skills needed to solve complex business problems. For example, the school will be able to offer more undergraduate courses like "Strategic Management of Knowledge in Professional Services Firms," in which students participate in a business case competition before an actual company's executives, and "The Corporation in Society," in which students visit companies and other organizations in foreign countries to study business issues.

"We'll have even more integration of action-based learning activities both inside and outside the classroom," Jones said. "Students won't just live in a world of finance or management. They'll have a complete educational experience that integrates all business disciplines to meet the real world challenges."

Robert J. Dolan, dean of the Ross School of Business, says that Jones' generosity will have an extraordinary and lasting impact on the undergraduate business student experience.

"Tom Jones has long been a great supporter of the business school, as a BBA and MBA student, as a mentor for our undergraduates and as one of our top benefactors," Dolan said. "Because of his remarkable foresight, Ross School undergraduates not only will continue to receive an outstanding education here at Michigan, but will have learning opportunities that other business programs cannot match. Tom's generosity will have an indelible influence on Ross School students for years to come."

U-M President Mary Sue Coleman says Jones' gift will advance the University's $2.5-billion The Michigan Difference campaign and will reverberate beyond the Ross School.

"Mr. Jones' generous gift raises the bar for business education at the undergraduate level, here and elsewhere. And it also has far-reaching effects for the rest of the University," she said. "While Michigan is a premier public research institution and world renowned for its graduate studies, providing quality educational opportunities for our undergraduate students forms the very core of our mission as a public university."

Jones says his experience as a Michigan undergraduate "changed his life" and gave him the "skills, tools, polish and confidence" to be a successful business leader.

"I wouldn't be the person I am today without the guidance and support I received from the Michigan faculty and staff," he said. "And because of all they've given me, I wanted to give something back."

Jones previously gave $1.5 million to the Ross School for the Jane M. and Chester R. Jones Undergraduate Scholarship in memory of his parents and for the Dean's Innovation Fund, which helps finance innovative faculty and student projects and programs.

Jones retired in 2002 as president of CIGNA's Retirement & Investment Services Division, one of the nation's leading asset management and retirement services firms with assets of more than $80 billion. After joining CIGNA in 1994, he also served as president of several of its other divisions, including property and casualty reinsurance, individual insurance and investment management.

Prior to joining CIGNA, Jones was executive vice president and chief operating officer of NAC Re Corp. (1985-94), where he became a founding member of the company's board of directors. Earlier, he held several senior management positions at General Re Corp. (1980-85) and served as Michigan's Commissioner of Insurance (1975-79). He also worked in an executive capacity with the Michigan Department of Commerce and as an executive adviser in the office of former Michigan Gov. William Milliken in the early 1970s.

Jones currently serves on the board of directors at CUNA Mutual Group, a leading financial services provider to credit unions and their members. He also is a member of the Ross School's Visiting Committee, former member of its Alumni Society Board of Governors and a fellow at Northwestern Michigan College, where he earned an associate's degree in 1966. He also participated in Harvard University's Advanced Management Program in 1988.

About the Ross School's BBA Program
As a leader in undergraduate business education, the Ross School's BBA program develops top managers with leadership skills who are well prepared to solve complex business issues. Students are grounded in every key functional area of business through a comprehensive core curriculum, which helps students define career interests and develop a specialization through a broad range of electives.

The Ross School recently established a new three-year BBA program that allows students to enter the program as sophomores. Historically, U-M undergraduates have spent two years in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) and then applied to the business school for admission as juniors. The four-year coordinated experience will now allow students to study business fundamentals early in their undergraduate career and take upper-level LSA and business courses as juniors and seniors.

For more information about the new three-year BBA program, please visit the Admissions section.

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone: (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847
Email: bernied@umich.edu