Geraldine M. Jones, president of California University of Pennsylvania, received the university’s Jennie A. Carter Award at a virtual ceremony Oct. 9.
The award is named in memory of Elizabeth “Jennie” Adams Carter, Class of 1881, Cal U.’s first African-American graduate.
Jones, who earned her degrees from Cal U. in 1972 and 1980, became the university’s interim president in 2012 and was officially installed in 2016, becoming the first woman and the first person of color to hold that title. She will retire from Cal U. Jan. 29.
“To receive the award named for Jennie Carter is a very special honor, because Jennie herself was a very special person,” Jones said. “She was a woman of great courage and conviction. Her success as a student was not only a significant achievement for the African-American community, but also a noteworthy sign of the changing role of women in America. She had the strength to forge her own path, to follow her own dreams, at a time when that was challenging for women, and especially women of color.
“This is something I’ve tried to instill in our students over the years, and in the colleagues I’ve mentored throughout my career: If you focus on your goals, if you turn your dreams into action, you can achieve great things. Jennie Carter’s life and career are a wonderful example.”
James Davis, chair of the university’s Council of Trustees, was among those who attended the virtual ceremony.
“Geraldine Jones is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever been around,” he said. “She models integrity, honesty and character for those of us who have worked closely with her, as well as for Cal U. alumni and students.”
Dr. Bruce Barnhart, who retired earlier this year as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, believes Jones has left a lasting legacy at Cal U.
“I worked closely with her for 12 years,” Barnhart said. “She modeled how to be a leader and a problem-solver. No one is more deserving of this award.”