STARKVILLE, Miss. — At a Wednesday [March 20] campus ceremony, Mississippi State will inaugurate an ongoing program to recognize outstanding leaders in the university’s Division of Student Affairs.
The 6 p.m. event in the Bill Foster Ballroom of the Colvard Student Union launches the Robert L. Jones Student Affairs Hall of Honor.
Two of the first four inductees will be Jones, MSU’s first student affairs vice president, and Bill Foster, the division’s longtime assistant vice president.
Roy H. Ruby, who succeeded Jones, and Harold B. Hall, the former dean of students, also are being recognized.
Ruby, Foster and Hall are retired from MSU, while Jones is retired from the University of Texas at Tyler. All four hold emeriti status at MSU.
“Our new Hall of Honor pays tribute to those who provided sustained and distinguished service to the Division of Student Affairs and the students of Mississippi State University,” said Bill Kibler, current division vice president.
“The division was created 40 years ago and continues to benefit from the groundbreaking work performed by Drs. Jones, Ruby, Foster and Hall,” he said. “Their innovative ideas, best-practice concepts and strong leadership continue to serve the institution into the 21st century.”
Jones came to MSU in 1967 with the charge from then-President William L. Giles to implement and develop a modern professional organization to meet the needs of a rapidly growing student body. When he departed for the Lone Star State in 1984, Jones left behind what Kibler termed “a legacy of success and growth.”
Ruby, who had been a student affairs staff member since 1964, became the second division vice president in 1984. He is recognized in university history as a key administrator whose 17-year vice presidency bolstered the administrations of four MSU presidents. While still vice president, he accepted then-President Malcolm Portera’s request to also fill the recently vacated College of Education deanship. With the succeeding presidency of Charles Lee, he stepped down as vice president and became fulltime education dean. In 2008, he came out of retirement at the request of the state College Board to briefly serve as interim president prior to the selection of current MSU chief executive Mark E. Keenum.
Foster’s busy career in student affairs began in 1960 and concluded 39 years later. After first directing the MSU housing office, he accepted the opportunity in 1966 to become the first director of the institution’s new student union building. As assistant vice president, he and Ruby led in establishing a master’s degree in student affairs, and he taught in the program for many years. In addition to his leadership skills, Foster was known throughout campus for his constant enthusiasm and creativity in helping the division grow and develop professionally.
Hall remains the longest-serving dean of students in university history. Over nearly three decades, he had daily direct contact with a rapidly growing and ever-more-diverse student body. His fatherly wisdom and gentle manner helped countless students deal with personal issues. His strong commitment to MSU’s values and principals also were evident, when required, in the administration of student discipline. Hall’s active participation in professional organizations provided a role model for many rising leaders in the higher education student affairs field.