To recognize the tragic passing of Rowan University’s beloved Vice President of Student Engagement, Richard Jones, members of the community congregated in Pfleeger Hall on Thursday, Dec. 16, to pay their respects.
Many students and faculty took to the podium to reflect on all that Jones meant to them in their time at Rowan University.
“Tonight is a night to celebrate Richard,” Dr. Penny McPherson-Myers, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, said. “And all that he has meant to his family, our students, our community.”
The ceremony began with a number of keynote speakers, some from Jones’ fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, and others from Rowan’s administration. Many musical tributes were also selected, including the song “My Funny Valentine” by Frank Sinatra.
Jones was honored by the fraternity, as many alumni and undergraduate members came up to give a presentation as a group.
“He will forever live in our minds and our hearts, because he is eternally our brother,” one brother said.
Jared Barnes, vice polemarch for the Atlantic City Chapter of the Fraternity, took to the stage and recalled first meeting Jones during the pledging process.
“Now Rich and I, we didn’t know each other for that long, but he said ‘Whatever you need, I got you,’” Barnes said. “I was like ‘What do you mean?’ and he said ‘Whatever you need, I got your back. We’re going to go through this together.’”
Afterwards, much of the memorial allowed students and other guests to come up and speak about the late dean and vice president.
Ricky Urgo, one of the students that Jones counseled, was among them.
“He referred to me as ‘nephew,’ and I also referred to him as ‘uncle,’” Urgo said. “I really believe that he leaned into that outside of just an educator role… so when we think about his legacy going forward, I encourage you to… not box him in to just those things and to think of him as a person who used those channels to spread that message… There are lots of people that are students here or connected to Rowan in some type of way that very much saw Richard as a father figure… and that’s how I remember him.”
Among the last of the speakers was Jones’ mother, Sandy Jones.
“I just wanna thank you all so much. I didn’t know I had so many grandchildren,” she said. “It’s been amazing and it’s warmed my heart so… and I cried along with you, I rejoiced along with you also, to know that he touched so many lives.”
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