Former ASCE board member and University of Delaware president Jones dies at 85

Distinguished Member Russel C. “Russ” Jones, a civil engineering academic and international leader in capacity developing who became president of the University of Delaware has died. He was 85.


Jones, Ph.D., P.E., Dist.M.ASCE, served on the ASCE Board of Direction from 1970 to 1971 and was founding chair of the Standing Committee on Capacity Building of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations.

He also was an executive director of the National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education, as well as a stint as president of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. 

In 1987 Jones became the 23rd president of the University of Delaware and engaged the campus in developing a five-year plan called Project Vision. His academic career included service as a faculty member at MIT, department chair at Ohio State University, dean at University of Massachusetts Amherst, and academic vice president at Boston University. After leaving Delaware, he went on to serve as founding president of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and as senior adviser at Khalifa University, both in Abu Dhabi, UAE. 

After retiring, Jones continued consulting extensively abroad, promoting capacity building through engineering education and economic development in countries such as Russia, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.

Jones earned three degrees in civil engineering at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (later Carnegie Mellon University). He liked to keep abreast of global affairs by attending programs at the Cosmos Club, participating in the Fairfax County Master Gardener’s Program, and taking advantage of the performing arts around Washington, D.C.

He also loved trips and travel, and even the extensive planning that they required. Over the past 15 years, he and his wife, Beth, went to the Galapagos, Antarctica, the Arctic, Cambodia, Syria, Nigeria, Egypt, Scotland, and the Amazon.

Jones had recently served on the council of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Vienna, Virginia. His family said he is remembered most for his love and laughter, and an inclination toward silliness when with his young daughters and granddaughter.


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