Higher Ed Visionary and USU Alum Paul Anthony Jones to Speak at 2023 Commencement Ceremony
Jonathan W. Bullen, Mia B. Love, and Gary E. Stevenson Will Also Receive Honorary Degrees
LOGAN, Utah — Paul Anthony Jones, notable university alumnus and president of Fort Valley State University, will receive an honorary doctorate degree and serve as USU’s commencement speaker for its 136th ceremony this spring.
Additional individuals who will receive honorary doctorate degrees during the ceremony on Thursday, May 4, include: Jonathan W. Bullen, philanthropist and businessman; former Utah Rep. Mia B. Love; and Gary E. Stevenson, local entrepreneur and current member of the Quorum of the Twelve in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Jones received degrees from USU in the 1980s, which launched a 37-year career in higher education. In 2015, he was appointed to take the helm as the 10th president at Fort Valley State, a fellow land-grant university in Georgia that signed a five-year partnership with USU last year to collaborate on activities of mutual interest.
“We are honored that President Jones has accepted our invitation to address our students this year,” said USU President Noelle E. Cockett. “He is a visionary leader and strategic thinker whose contributions to Utah State over the years have been invaluable. His message to our graduating students, alumni, and the Aggie community will undoubtedly be inspiring and informative.”
Jones said he looks forward to returning to his alma mater in May to speak to this year’s graduates.
“I am humbled and deeply honored to have received an invitation to give the commencement address and to receive an honorary doctorate from my alma mater,” said Jones. “It is an incredible honor because I know firsthand the value of education and its profound impact on one's life. To receive this recognition from an institution that provided me with the foundation for my own success is truly a highlight of my career. It is also a privilege to have the opportunity to impart some words of wisdom and insights to the next generation of leaders graduating from Utah State University. I look forward to being a part of this important milestone for those graduates and continuing to support and champion the transformative power of education.”
Conferring honorary degrees enables universities to honor individuals for their commitment to making positive changes in the world.
The 136th USU main campus commencement ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. May 4 after a processional on the Logan campus starting on the Quad at 8:20 a.m. The commencement ceremony will include the awarding of honorary degrees, the announcement of university-wide faculty awards, and commencement speeches by students and dignitaries.
Colleges and campuses are planning individual convocation and graduation ceremonies, as well. Information about college convocation and hooding ceremonies is available on the Logan campus webpage. The Statewide Campuses schedule webpage lists details about ceremonies in Blanding, Brigham City, Eastern, Kaysville, Moab, Southwest, Tooele and Uintah Basin.
For more information on USU’s 136th commencement, visit the commencement website.
PAUL ANTHONY JONES
Paul Anthony Jones graduated with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from USU, where he was a two-sport athlete, competing in both football and track and field. His wife, Sylvia Jones, is also a graduate of USU. The two met and married as students in Logan, and both were honored as USU Alumni of the Year in 2012. Both Jones’ children are USU alumni, and their son Isaiah currently works as a senior director for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the university.
Joseph Ward, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, was one of several who nominated Jones to be honored by USU.
“From the time that he was a student at USU, Dr. Paul Jones has dedicated himself to improving lives through education and philanthropy,” Ward said. “He exemplifies the Aggie spirit and will be a fantastic commencement speaker.”
Jones, an astute and affable administrator who is committed to the transformative power of higher education, has spent the last several years advancing Fort Valley State’s standing as one of the nation’s most respected institutions of higher learning, including its consistent ranking as the top public historically black college and university (HBCU) in Georgia by U.S. News and World Report.
Before joining FVSU, Jones served two years as interim president at Darton State College (2013-15) in Albany, Georgia. Throughout his higher education career, he served in numerous senior leadership roles at Georgia College & State University (2002-13). Those include: senior vice president for finance and administration, vice president and chief of staff, vice president for institutional research and enrollment management, and several interim roles, including vice president of academic affairs and president. Jones was also a professor of educational administration at Georgia College in Atlanta.
In 2019, Jones established a university-wide steering committee to begin an inclusive and collaborative comprehensive strategic planning process to chart the university’s next five years. This 2020-25 plan, Unleashing 21st Century Innovation, Transformation and Excellence, focuses on four priorities: Exceptional Student Experience, Operational Excellence, Organizational Identity, and Engagement and Collaboration.
During his tenure at FVSU, Jones has expanded the academic offerings on the campus and online, bolstered innovative programs focused on student success, and modernized aging campus structures. He also has increased retention and graduation rates, and FVSU experienced its highest enrollment since the fall of 2013.
Jones is also a member of several boards, including: The Medical Center of Peach County, Navicent Health Board of Directors, Fort Valley State University Foundation, Middle Georgia Goodwill Industries Education Committee, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Council of 1890s Officers, USDA-1890 Task Force, Museum of Aviation Foundation Board of Governors, and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Executive Board.
In addition to his degrees from USU, the Los Angeles native also earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in education and human resource studies from Colorado State University. In 2007-08, Jones served as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow at the University of West Florida.
JONATHAN W. BULLEN
Jonathan W. Bullen is a commercial real estate developer and the co-founder and chairman of the Colmena Group. Bullen is skilled at the development, acquisition, management, and disposition of properties across diverse asset classes and has more than 30 years of experience in the industry.
His interest in real estate came after a successful career in the radio/broadcasting business, where he began as general manager of KVNU radio in Logan and eventually became president of Cache Valley Broadcasting. He then formed the JWB Cable Company, which he later sold to Sonic Cable.
In 1993, Bullen started investing in private career colleges, becoming CEO and president and later chairman of Provo and Eagle Gate College. The schools boasted the largest Bachelor of Nursing program in the state of Utah with an enrollment of more than 800 students. Under his leadership, more than 15,000 students graduated with certificate, associate or bachelor’s degrees in a variety of career fields.
Bullen graduated from what is now the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at USU in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. During his time at USU, Bullen was very active on campus as a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, Sounds of Zion and the Blue Key National Honor Fraternity, where he served as president. After graduation, Bullen has remained an active contributor, serving as a USU Foundation Board Member from 1999-2010, including three years as the president and chair. He is currently a member of the USU Foundation Emeritus Board.
Bullen, a Cache Valley native, stays close to his USU roots. His business success has afforded him the opportunity to give back to the university, where he generously supports nearly every area of campus, including the Caine College of the Arts, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, University Libraries and Athletics, among others. In the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jonathan and his wife, Julie, were instrumental in the creation of the Leonard J. Arrington Endowed Chair of Mormon History and Culture. In the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, Jonathan and Julie helped in the creation of Aggies Elevated. The couple’s daughter Sarah graduated in the first class of Aggies Elevated.
Jonathan and Julie recently served as mission leaders in the Oregon Portland Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2017-2020). They are the parents of four children.
MIA B. LOVE
Mia B. Love is a former member of the U.S. Congress representing the 4th Congressional District of Utah. She is currently the National Outreach Coordinator for Utah State University’s Center for Growth and Opportunity in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
Love is the daughter of Haitian immigrants and was brought up to give back to society. After spending her early years in New York and Connecticut, she graduated from college and worked as a flight attendant and call center operator. However, shortly after moving to Utah, Mia jumped into public service. Beginning at the community level in Saratoga Springs, Love served on the city council for six years before being elected as mayor in 2009. Her success at the community level allowed her dreams of running for Congress to become a reality, where she would serve two terms.
In Congress, Love was selected to serve on the Financial Services Committee, which handles regulation of our nation’s financial institutions. Her background in municipal government helped her become a champion for reducing regulations and sponsoring legislation that promoted opportunity for individuals and families. Love advocated for limited government, fiscal discipline, and personal responsibility. Love was also a conservative leader in the push for legal immigration reform and was a champion for pro-life issues while in Congress.
Love received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Hartford and was later awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree from the University of Hartford.
She serves on the Board of Directors for Security National Financial Corporation and is also serving as a consultant to a Fortune 500 automaker. She is a CNN Political Correspondent.
Love enjoys speaking around the country and encouraging Americans to get involved and make a difference in their community. She and her husband, Jason Love, have three children: Alessa, who is married to Lincoln Archibald; Abi Love; and Peyton Love. Her two daughters and her son-in-law have all attended Utah State University.
GARY E. STEVENSON
Gary E. Stevenson is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has served the Church as a full-time general authority since 2008, first as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and later as the Presiding Bishop of the Church.
Raised in Cache Valley, Utah, Stevenson graduated with his bachelor’s degree in business administration from what is now the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at USU, and a minor in Japanese, in 1979. Since graduation, Stevenson has continued to be involved at USU, serving as a board member of the President’s National Advisory Council, the Alumni Association Foundation Board and the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business National Advisory Board. He has also served as a board member of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and of Deseret Management Corporation. In 2012, Stevenson was awarded the Distinguished Executive Alumnus Award from the Huntsman School of Business.
While students in the Huntsman School in 1977, Stevenson and Scott Watterson cofounded the exercise equipment manufacturing company now known as iFIT. Stevenson served as president and chief operating officer for the company until 2008. The company is one of the largest manufacturers and marketers of fitness equipment in the world.
Inc. Magazine honored Stevenson with Entrepreneur of the Year for the Inter-Mountain Region. The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business has also recognized Stevenson with a Professional Achievement Award.
In April 1979, Stevenson married his wife, Lesa J. Higley. They are the parents of four sons.
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