Alan R. Jones ’72 receives the 2020 Founders’ Day Award

Devoted volunteer is honored.

Jennifer Wagner
April 30, 2021
Alan Jones in front of the Academy Library

Alan R. Jones ’72 received the 2020 Founders’ Day Award during a virtual assembly this morning in recognition of his nearly five decades of service to the Academy.

Principal Bill Rawson ’71; P’08 warmly welcomed students, alumni, trustees, faculty and staff joining the webinar from around the world to honor Jones, the 92nd recipient of the award. “I was thrilled to learn that this year’s recipient is someone I have known for 50 years,” Rawson said. “Someone whom I admire greatly and someone whose friendship I value greatly.”

The Awards Committee selected Jones for the breadth and depth of his volunteerism, and acknowledged the myriad ways in which he has galvanized the school and its community — first as a student, then as a class volunteer and a valued trustee. He is currently a class agent and The Exeter Fund national co-chair.

Delivering the award citation, Trustee, General Alumni Association President and Awards Committee Chair Janney Wilson ’83 said, “His unswerving dedication is a testament to the deep appreciation he has for his own Exeter experience and the responsibility he feels to help create the path for those who come after.”

You can watch the full assembly here:

In accepting the award, Jones spoke passionately about faith, freedom and the importance of looking to the past to evaluate our present. Recent events, he said, have led him to carefully consider where we are now as a national and world community and to examine the history of both President George Washington (who was inaugurated on this same day in 1789) and Academy co-founder John Phillips.

Noting the “great inconsistencies of human nature,” Jones said: “A great national leader can play an extraordinary role in the formation of a new nation dedicated to freedom, yet deny that same freedom to certain individuals for personal gain. A dedicated philanthropist can exercise his passion for education through the founding of fine institutions of learning, yet not leave a record of speaking forcefully about the exploitation of enslavement.”

These “human imperfections” shouldn’t stop us from having optimism he said. “In the spirit of unity, hope and charity for all, we can celebrate the good, even when it falls short of the ideal.”

Five decades of service

Jones enrolled at Exeter with a financial aid scholarship during the winter of his upper year. “Exeter was an unrivaled opportunity made possible because someone saw in me a person that I had not yet come to know,” he says. That experience of another’s support inspired him to do what he could to give back.

His outgoing personality, warm smile, and easy laugh served him well as a proctor in Soule Hall. Later, he took on the role of class vice president, class president, class agent, reunion gift chair, regional president, General Alumni Association president and Admissions representative.

Jones joined the Trustees in 2000 for a two-year term. In 2003, they invited him to return, and for the next 10 years he participated on eight committees and task forces that positively impacted faculty, staff and students alike. As chair of the Compensation and Benefits Task Force, he ensured the Academy holistically supported its employees. On the Youth from Every Quarter Task Force and the Universal Access Committee, he helped make Exeter more accessible, financially and physically, to qualified candidates from around the world. Having spent hours working in the Academy library and Wentworth Dining Hall during his student days, it was especially poignant for him to be part of the team that eliminated the work and loan requirement for students on financial aid.

But perhaps the area of campus Jones is most proud of is Phillips Church. During his time as a trustee, he oversaw changes to ensure multiple faiths were honestly and respectfully represented within its walls. He was driven by the desire, he says, to “make sure that each student who came to the Academy had an opportunity to maintain or even uplift their experience of their faith as they did when they were at home, be it Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish or Hindu.”

Final blessing

In closing, Jones offered a blessing:May the love and good deeds that stir in your heart be your guide. May you never be content with the ordinary, or the popular, or that which is easy. Through your journey in life, may the goodness and knowledge that is in you always lift you up and may the spirit of non sibi advance your every step. And above all else, may you always love, respect and seek the truth.”

Following the assembly more than 50 friends, family, trustees and members of the class of ’72 joined Jones over Zoom for a virtual toast, raising mugs and offering congratulatory wishes in his honor.

The Founders’ Day Award was conceived by Principal Stephen G. Kurtz and established by the Trustees in 1976. It is given annually by the General Alumni Association in recognition of devoted service to the Academy. The 2020 award presentation was delayed a year due to the pandemic.