Dr. James G. “Jim” Jones lists among his career highlights an Honorary Doctor of Science degree that he received from UNC Pembroke in 1998.
A family physician and professor of medicine with a distinguished record of service to eastern North Carolina, Dr. Jones was appointed to a four-year term on the UNC Pembroke Board of Trustees by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. He was sworn in on September 19 during the quarterly meeting of the board.
Dr. Jones, who grew up in Pembroke, is pleased with the opportunity to join the Board of Trustees of the university.
“I was totally surprised when I got the call from (Dr.) Robin Cummings (former chair of UNCP’s trustees) that I was being considered,” Dr. Jones said. “It’s something I never imagined would happen.”
Chancellor Kyle R. Carter welcomed Dr. Jones to the Board of Trustees. “We are so pleased to have Dr. Jones named to UNC Pembroke’s Board of Trustees,” Dr. Carter said. “He’s a friend of higher education in general and of UNC Pembroke in particular, and we are grateful for his support. Already he has contributed both wit and wisdom to our board meetings. We look forward to more of that.”
Dr. Jones’ career in medicine and higher education resonate with his home community and UNC Pembroke. He is a 1951 graduate of Pembroke High School.
“My affiliation with the university goes back to when I was a paperboy at age 10; I delivered the paper to several presidents,” he said. “In high school, English Jones was my agriculture teacher.” Jones became president of the university in 1962.
After earning a two-year degree at Mars Hill College, Dr. Jones graduated from Wake Forest University and its School of Medicine. He was the first non-white student to enroll at Wake Forest.
After serving as a medical officer in the Navy, he opened a general practice in Jacksonville, N.C. He became active in the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, becoming its president in 1973.
The timing was critical as Dr. Jones’ became a key player in the drive to get a medical school for East Carolina University. Concerned about the thinning ranks of family doctors, especially in rural eastern North Carolina, he and the academy lobbied effectively for a medical school that would specialize in training general practitioners.
After the General Assembly approved what would become the Brody School of Medicine (BSOM), UNC President William Friday asked Dr. Jones to join the school to help make its mission of rural family medicine a reality.
“I was from a place where you could not get good medical care,” Dr. Jones said. “My mission was to the health of people in eastern North Carolina.”
East Carolina’s medical school is a national model for training in general medicine. Dr. Jones served as a professor, director of residency and chair of the Department of Family Medicine. Later, he was named associate dean for rural medicine.
Dr. Jones never forgot Pembroke or UNC Pembroke. Working with the medical school’s admissions program, “slotted spaces” were set aside for UNCP and other minority graduates. Several dozen UNCP grads have been trained at BSOM, and many of them have returned to practice in Pembroke.
“I’m pleased that so many of them have turned out to be great doctors,” he said.
Dr. Jones is professor emeritus at both the Brody and UNC-Chapel Hill schools of medicine. He engaged in family practice throughout his professional career and was affiliated with and served staff member at several hospitals.
Throughout his career, Dr. Jones was a member of the North Carolina and American Medical Societies and the state and national Academies of Family Physicians, serving in a variety of leadership positions. He was president of both state and national Academies of Family Physicians.
North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt appointed Dr. Jones to chair the state Health Planning Commission, which was responsible for the reforms that formed the basis of current healthcare reforms. He also served on the Board of Trustees of Coastal Carolina Community College for 13 years. He was also active in a variety of civic organizations and awarded numerous honors.