May 30, 2000
Volume 52, No. 34
Brittain Award Kembrel Jones
Emory was 'the best experience of my life'
By Deb Hammacher
Emory's highest student honor, the Marion Luther Brittain Award, went to an extraordinary student in 2000, but that's expected.
What's unusual is that this year's recipient is a 40-year-old MBA student with master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard already under his belt. Kembrel Jones was recognized at Commencement for his outstanding service not only to the Goizueta Business School, but the University as a whole. The award is given each year as an expression of gratitude to a student for service to the University without expectation of reward or recognition.
It is Jones' passion for higher education that led him from his bachelor's degree at the Univer-sity of North Alabama-where he was recognized as the most outstanding graduate among 1,200 students-to pursue education degrees at Harvard.
After obtaining his master's, Jones spent the next 13 years primarily devoted to higher education administration, most recently at his Alabama alma mater.
Before returning to North Alabama, he earned his Ph.D. in education administration at Harvard, finishing first in his class with a perfect 4.0 GPA. He was president of the Harvard Higher Education Association, taught graduate students and served as a freshman adviser. He then spent six years at North Alabama as the director of alumni relations and annual giving, while concurrently serving as editor of the alumni magazine and as professor of marketing in the business school.
"He is a leader among leaders," said Patrick Noonan, assistant dean and director of full-time MBA programs at Goizueta. "Kembrel is an extraordinary student, one whose likes we are unlikely to see again."
At Emory, Jones served as president of the Graduate Business Association, and his visionary leadership and compassion earned him a Goizueta Spotlight for Excellence award from his peers.
Jones was pleasantly surprised to learn he had been chosen and is thrilled to have the business school recognized. "I have the best classmates in the world, and they do so much in the community, so I hope this represents that," he said. He came to Emory to get his MBA and go into higher education consulting, but his experience here convinced him to stay directly in university settings, hoping to eventually become a college president.
"It's been the best experience of my life. And I've had a lot," Jones said.
During his two years at Emory, Jones's service has extended beyond the business school to the University as a whole. He served as the live-in house director for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and was an intern in the office of President Bill Chace.
"Kembrel is obviously brilliant, but is so down-to-earth," said Bridget Guernsey Riordan, assistant to the vice president of campus life and director of Greek Life. "He has been a great role model for SAE. When we interviewed him two years ago, we knew we just had to get him."
And get him Emory did. Jones has just been hired as the new director of full-time MBA programs for Goizueta Business School to succeed Noonan.