Dr. Ben Jones
Second President (1956 – 1973)
The Board of Trustees selected Dr. Ben W. Jones as Navarro’s second president. A native of Georgia, Jones held a B.A. from Georgia Southern University and M.A. from George Peabody College. Following a tour of duty in the Army during World War II, Jones enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, completing his doctorate in 1948. His professional experience included public school teaching and administration in Arkansas. In addition, he had been Assistant Director of extension courses at the University of Mississippi. In 1952, he was named President of Northeast Mississippi Junior College in Booneville, a position he held when he accepted presidency of Navarro College.
At the time of Dr. Jones’ tenure, the campus consisted of six permanent buildings and an enrollment of slightly over 500 students. Besides changes in the makeup of the student body and the additional extracurricular activities, the physical appearance of the campus was also undergoing significant change. Increasing enrollments required expanding the facilities. In fall semester of 1959, enrollment totaled 579 students and that number increased by 100 the following year. By 1965, enrollment had grown to 1,184, and the campus included an administration-library-auditorium building, a hall of science, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, four dormitories, and a shop building. The following year two additional dormitories, a new technical-vocational building, a library, and a women’s physical education facility were constructed. A student union building was added in 1970.
Dr. Jones’ administration was marked by several significant advancements in the development of the college. He led the institution through a peaceful desegregation process and assimilated large numbers of international students into the student body. The college had grown numerically as far as student enrollment and had expanded the size of the campus. Several buildings currently in use on campus were constructed during the Jones’ tenure, including the Gooch One-Stop Center, Gibson Hall, Drane Hall, Bain Technical Arts Center, Jones Residence Hall, and Eady Residence Hall. Enrollment at Navarro had doubled during its first decade of existence from 238 students on opening day in 1946 to 500 students in 1956 when Dr. Jones began his administration. Increases continued for the next several years, peaking in 1969 when enrollment reached 1,200 students.
Navarro Junior College had enjoyed both growth and progress under Dr. Jones’ leadership. However, in November 20, 1973, Dr. Jones resigned as President of NJC. With Dr. Jones’ resignation came an end to the second major stage of Navarro’s development.