Educator, Navy veteran named Piper Professor

Dr. Gene Jones

Approximately three decades later, Dr. Jones has been named a Piper Professor by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation of San Antonio.

The award, created in 1958, recognizes teachers in Texas colleges and universities who are devoted to their profession and have made a special impact on their students and the community. Fifteen Piper awards are given annually. Each award includes a certificate of merit, a gold pin and an honorarium of $5,000.

Dr. Jones is the ninth faculty member at UT Southwestern to be named a Piper Professor. He joined the School of Health Professions in May 1993 following a faculty position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and two decades in the Navy.

Though Dr. Jones isn’t in the classroom as much now as he was in past years, he remains active in educating future physician assistants. In addition to overseeing the largest department in the School of Health Professions, with about 115 graduate students currently enrolled, he teaches one class every semester and co-directs the physician assistant dermatology training program, co-sponsored by UT Southwestern and the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Dr. Jones is also a master’s project adviser for eight physician assistant graduate students and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Physician Assistant Education, the official journal of the Physician Assistant Education Association. He was inducted into UT Southwestern’s Southwestern Academy of Teachers in 2008.

The Arizona native said he has stayed in education for one reason.

“I just really love being around the students,” Dr. Jones said. “They keep you young and invigorated, and they challenge you. Today’s students are so bright and quick. You really have to stay on your toes to keep up with them.

“I can’t think of a more fulfilling career than what I do now.”

Dr. Jon Williamson, associate dean of the School of Health Professions, said Dr. Jones is most deserving of the award.

“He runs a first-class program and leads by example with his teaching, research and service contributions,” Dr. Williamson said.

Dr. Jones earned a master’s degree in health services management from Webster University in St. Louis and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in education from Claremont Graduate University in California.

Two current UT Southwestern faculty members are previous Piper Professor winners: Dr. Erwin Thal (2000), professor of surgery; and Dr. James A. Richardson (2008), professor of pathology and molecular biology. Previous winners are Dr. Hal Weathersby (1967), anatomy; Dr. Bruce Fallis (1973), pathology; Dr. Gladys Fashena (1974), pediatrics; Dr. Jack Reynolds (1976), radiology; Dr. Alan Pierce (1985), internal medicine; and Dr. Albert James Hudspeth (1994), cell biology and neuroscience.