Jones, who since 2004 has served as the chancellor of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will become the 21st president of Urbana University, effective July 1. He is replacing Dr. Robert L. Head who came to the university in 2001 and is leaving to become the next president of Rockford College in Rockford, Ill.

The appointment concludes an extensive national search launched in January which involved faculty, staff, alumni, students and community leaders.

"This is a great day for Urbana University," said James R. Wilson, trustee fellow and chair of the presidential search committee. "Steve Jones is a dedicated and visionary leader, an accomplished scholar, and an engaging teacher. Steve has a powerful intellect, coupled with a demonstrated ability to lead and motivate people to deliver their best efforts at building solid futures at a university. He and his wife Judy are wonderful people and will be an excellent addition to the community."

"When Judy and I came for the on-site interview, we were jut so taken by the people and the place and the warmth and the embrace," Jones told the Daily Citizen Monday evening. "It felt, from the moment we began interacting on site, that this was a perfect location and a perfect institution."

"Dr. Jones is a very conscientious, ethical and moral person who wears lightly his accomplishments. His many admirers credit his broad background in industry, as a faculty member, and as an administrator as honing him into the quintessential university president," Wilson said in a release. "Steve has tremendous energy. He works smart and he works hard. He is known as decisive and collaborative, expressive and understated, respectful of tradition and effective at innovating. His qualities will serve well Urbana University as we build on Urbana's traditional strengths, while embracing change and global possibilities."

"I am honored and humbled by the trust and responsibility placed in me," Jones said. "My wife Judy and I are thrilled to be coming home, to the lower 48, where we want to sink deep roots in the Urbana community and earn this trust daily. Our shared agenda will be to continue refining who we are, where we want to go, and how we will get there."

Over his years of work, Jones has developed a love for the private sector and a passion for higher education. Although he had never been to Urbana before his recent visit, he said the university offers a set of tangibles and intangibles.

"I felt like it was a university that needed what we have to offer," Jones said Monday.

Branding UAF as "America's Arctic University," Jones built and led the Vision Task Force, a team of 55 visionaries who engaged the diverse internal campus community as well as the external UAF community stakeholders in transforming UAF into a more mature 21st century research university and the flagship of the University of Alaska System.

As chancellor, he has managed a budget of over $410 million, and worked with 3,500 faculty and staff and 10,000 students located at 38 facilities across Alaska. Jones has deepened UAF's international reputation; and he is currently the chair of the governing board of the University of the Arctic, a circumpolar consortium of 111 entities, including 87 colleges and universities, making opportunities for foreign studies and collaboration available to the consortium's collective 750,000 students.

Before UAF, Jones was vice-chancellor at North Carolina State University, where he headed the university's extension, outreach, distance learning and continuing education areas, for several years. From 1997-2001, Jones was the director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System serving the Alabama A&M and Auburn University extension programs supporting 900 faculty and staff located in all 67 counties in Alabama.

From 1988 through 1996, he was an associate professor, and subsequently assistant director of the School of Forestry, at Pennsylvania State University. While concluding his Ph.D. at the State University of New York, Jones was the director of the Northeast Petroleum-Forest Resources Cooperative. Prior to his career in academia, he worked 12 years with the Union Camp Corporation, a paper and allied products manufacturer acquired by International Paper in 1994.

Raised in Maryland, Jones holds a bachelor's degree in forestry and a doctorate degree in resource management from the State University of New York, in Syracuse.

Jones has been very active in community service, currently serving as a board member of the Denali Education Center and the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the Fairbanks Rotary International Club. He and his wife have two married children and grandchildren living in Pittsburgh, Pa. and Huntsville, Ala.

After arriving at Urbana University this summer, Jones said he plans to take in the broad university community.

"I want to take a careful accounting of where the university is now and, collectively, over time ... what it is we can take it," he said.

Although the university is over 150 years old, Jones said it has a rather small endowment.

"I want to focus on building friends, nurturing relationships and increasing the endowment and annual giving," he said.

He plans to build relationships within the community and with local businesses and industries.

"I will spend time with my ears open and learning all I can," he said. "It will be an intensive period of inspection and evaluation and, in effect, dreaming."

William Edwards, board chair, thanked the presidential search committee members for their diligent and careful work at narrowing a promising field of 40 qualified applicants to a unanimous selection.

"The faculty, staff and students of the university deserve our special thanks for their commitment of time and energy and their candid contributions to the collegial process," Edwards said. "I am confident that the Urbana University community and stakeholders will be well served by Dr. and Mrs. Jones. This is an exciting time to be a part of Urbana University as we continue our mission of building solid futures for our students."