Geraldine M. Jones

Immediate Past President

Before her appointment by the Board of Governors for Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education, she had led the University for nearly four years, first as acting president and then as interim president. A proud California graduate, Geraldine M. Jones was named president of PennWest California on April 7, 2016.

She was installed as California's seventh president in a formal academic ceremony on Oct. 14, 2016.

Education and Career

President Jones earned her bachelor's degree in education from California State College in 1972, and completed her master's degree in education at California in 1980.

She began her career as a second-grade teacher in the Albert Gallatin School District, in Uniontown, Pa.

She returned to California in 1974, serving as program director for the Upward Bound college access program for 20 years and as chair of the Department of Academic Development Services for 11 years. She was associate dean of the College of Education and Human Services for two years before serving as the college dean from 2000-2008.

In July 2008, she was named provost and vice president for academic affairs, a position she held until being appointed as acting university president in May 2012.



Important initiatives have been realized under President Jones' leadership.

Among them are:

  • The University's 2015-2021 Strategic Plan. 
  • The University's first doctoral degree programs, in health science, criminal justice, and educational leadership.
  • A new system of shared governance.
  • The Center for Undergraduate Research, to enhance and expand faculty-led research in all three undergraduate colleges.
  • A successful Winter College that offers courses between the fall and spring semesters.
  • Numerous new academic degree and certificate programs in high-demand fields; ยท refocusing the University on its special mission in science and technology.
  • The Rutledge Institute, founded with the largest gift in California's history. The institute operates a preschool on PennWest California's campus that serves income-eligible families and provides hands-on learning opportunities for Rutledge Scholars -- future early-childhood educators who receive full scholarships for tuition and on-campus housing.
  • Renovation of Coover Hall, now a state-of-the-art home for engineering technology and technology education programs, as well as art studios.


Honors, service and family

President Jones has received numerous honors, including:

  • The PennWest California Alumni Association's John R. Gregg Award for Loyalty and Service.
  • The PennWest California Black Alumni Association's Outstanding Service Award.
  • The New Pittsburgh Courier's 2010 Women of Excellence honor.
  • The Pittsburgh Diversity and Leadership Summit's Urban Hero of Western Pennsylvania and Most Powerful and Influential Women awards.
  • The Washington County Chamber of Commerce's 2016 ATHENA Award.

President Jones serves as a board member for local and regional community organizations, including the Washington County Community

Foundation and the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. She is a lifelong member of Mt. Zion AME Church of Brownsville, Pa., where she has been the church pianist since age 14.

President Jones and her husband, Jeffrey B. Jones, enjoy PennWest California athletics and the cultural events on campus. They have two adult daughters and three grandchildren.