Brookings Register | Jones named endowed director

BROOKINGS – Eluned Jones, the founding director of South Dakota State University’s Ness School of Management and Economics, has been named the initial Ness Endowed Director of the Ness School of Management and Economics.

The endowed position came as part of a recent $5 million gift by Larry ’69 and Diane ’71 Ness, namesakes of the school, which started in 2019. Located in Harding Hall, the school has more than 800 undergraduate students majoring in business economics, entrepreneurial studies and economics for which the degrees are conferred through the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and agribusiness and agricultural economics for which the degrees are conferred through the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. The school also offers 12 minor courses of study.

Jones’ investiture ceremony will be held later this semester.

Endowed faculty positions, like directorships, heighten prestige for the university and build a reputation as a premier institution for cutting-edge education, attracting the best and brightest minds from across the globe.

“Endowed positions, and the funding support associated with them, are indeed a margin of excellence that will move SDSU from being a participant in the academic and research future to playing a leading role in defining and shaping the academic and research future of critical issues and challenges of our time,” said Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dennis Hedge.

Larry and Diane Ness have included SDSU very prominently in their philanthropic efforts, which include the Boys and Girls Club of Yankton. Larry is chairman of the board of First Dakota National Bank in Yankton.

They were honored by the SDSU Foundation as its 2016 Philanthropic Family of the Year. They are members of the Charles L. Coughlin Society, which honors donors with lifetime giving of at least $10 million. They made an initial gift of $5 million to provide the resources that helped launch the Ness School of Management and Economics. Through an additional $5 million gift made in 2021, Larry and Diane Ness created endowments for the school’s director, scholarships and a speaker’s series to bring regional and national figures in the field of economics and management to SDSU.

“Their leadership, their incredible passion, their generosity and their sharing of time and treasure has changed this university,” said Steve Erpenbach ’85, SDSU Foundation CEO and president.

Jones came to SDSU in 2012 after working at Texas A&M University and at Virginia Tech.

“I came to SDSU because the economics department, now known as the Ness School, provided a unique opportunity that I couldn’t resist. It leveraged all of my previous career experiences in the business world as well as in higher education,” Jones said. “SDSU has the faculties of economics, agricultural economics and all of the business disciplines in one academic unit, and the land-grant missions of research and extension. The synergies enabled by the Ness School’s collaborative structure promotes greater flexibility for students, solutions-oriented research and outreach.”

Lynn Sargeant, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said, “Dr. Jones has been a true leader. Under her guidance, the Ness School has developed a national and even international reputation for research and training future leaders in business.”

Jones holds a B.S. from the University of Bath, United Kingdom, an M.S. from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Texas A&M. She worked in technology adoption in the textile industry, as a marketing engineer for Texas Instruments, and as director of commodity risk management research for Drexel Burnham and Lambert Inc. in Chicago.

Jones was a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M from 2002-2012 and also served as chair of the Intercollegiate Faculty of Agribusiness and directed the master of agribusiness program, an intercollegiate degree program with the Mays Business School. Jones was a faculty member at Virginia Tech from 1988-2002 with responsibilities in extension, research and teaching, and initiated and coordinated the M.S. agribusiness program with the Pamplin School of Business. Jones has served on numerous national industry advisory councils and committees, including the industry advisory committee for the Federal Grain Inspection and Packers Administration, and is a fellow of the Kellogg-funded Leadership Development Program at the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy.