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Kenneth Lester Jones
LSA Minutes

KENNETH LESTER JONES, Professor of Botany, teacher par excellence, and scholar in the best classical and inter-disciplinary tradition, officially retired in June from a distinguished career.

Born in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, he received his bachelor's degree from Syracuse University in 1928, then returned to his native state and spent the rest of his academic life at The University of Michigan. He held the rank of instructor at the time he received his Ph.D. in 1933, and continued advancement to full professorship in 1951. From 1950 to 1963, he served the Department of Botany as an exceptionally able and conscientious chairman.

A humane and warm friend to students and colleagues, Professor Jones has had a special gift for inspiring undergraduates, whether in a large elementary botany lecture or a long one-to-one discussion in his office. Students have consistently rated him as one of the very finest teachers in the entire College. His frequent service officially and unofficially as an academic counselor and undergraduate mentor carried his concern for students far beyond the confines of biological sciences, even into the humanities and his own deep interests in music and theology.

An early leader in the Great Books program, his dedicated and effective service since 1962 was among the longest in that endeavor. He could hold his colleagues as well as his students spellbound with pungent, lucid, quick-to-the-point presentations-laced with gentle wit or righteous fire as the occasion might demand. His even-handed, sympathetic guidance as chairman built a broadly-based Department of Botany, characterized by a remarkable esprit, cooperating in various ways with other units on campus, and top-ranked nationally. Within the department, his own pioneering investigations were in microbiology (especially dealing with soil fungi possessing antibiotic properties), in the biology of succulents, and in the sexual behavior of ragweeds.

Two books grew out of his popular course called "Plants and Man:" Botanical Essays for Humanists and Plants in Our Lives. Most recently, he compiled and edited for private circulation The Harley Harris Bartlett Diaries (1926-1959), presenting selections from the memoirs of an illustrious botanical predecessor in whose tradition he himself so successfully followed. Professor Jones served ably on a number of College and University committees and boards dealing with such subjects as scholarships, curriculum, teaching, and the University Press; he has been an active member of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, of the Society of American Bacteriologists, and of other professional organizations, he was elected to fellowship in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1947 and in the American Academy of Microbiology in 1957.

In proclaiming the esteem in which Professor Jones is held throughout the University-not alone in his own discipline, we invite him to continue to enrich our community by his wise counsel for students and staff, by his continued writing and research with historical and personal perspectives, and indeed by his very presence among us. The Regents are pleased to name him Professor Emeritus of Botany.