Murray State University’s board of regents approved the naming of the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology and the Gene W. Ray Science Campus at its quarterly meeting on Friday. These namings honor two of the university’s most outstanding alumni and dedicated and generous supporters.
Dr. Jesse D. Jones spent his career in research, development, sales and technical service with Ethyl and Albemarle Corporations. He graduated from Murray State University in 1964 and is the recipient of the MSU Alumni Association’s Golden Horseshoe Award and an honorary doctorate from the university.
Jones made the lead gift in the university’s recent Hold Thy Banner High fundraising campaign. Through the generosity of Jones, the Jesse L. Jones Family Clock Tower was built in honor of Jesse D.’s father, scholarships, faculty awards and endowments were created, and the Jesse D. Jones Hall (chemistry building) received funding for research, laboratory equipment and more. Jones also established the Racer Writing and the Racer Oral Communication Centers in the library. MSU’s newly named Heritage Hall was completed through gifts from Jones, as well.
Dr. Gene W. Ray is a scientist, entrepreneur and corporate leader. He is the recipient of a Kentucky OAK award (Outstanding Alumnus of Kentucky) in recognition of his professional work, achievements and support of his alma mater and is an MSU Distinguished Alumnus. A 1960 graduate of MSU, Ray is a trustee on the MSU Foundation board.
Ray and his wife, Taffin, have donated generously to both academics and athletics at Murray State and have provided significant gifts for the university including support for the new basketball practice facility, which houses a practice arena and office suites for the coaching staffs of both teams (and is also named for Ray), the Telecommunications Systems Management Program of Distinction, the college of science, engineering and technology, and Racer basketball.
“It is a great honor to name our college of science, engineering and technology and our new science campus for two of our most distinguished and generous alumni. Dr. Jones and Dr. Ray have had successful professional careers and fully understand the importance of giving back to advance the needs of our students and the overall academic interests of Murray State University. We are deeply grateful to them — but, importantly, these generous alumni have left a lasting mark on Murray State University,” Dr. Bob Jackson, associate vice president of development and governmental relations, said.
Jones, of Baton Rouge, La., is the largest donor to MSU’s college of science, engineering and technology. A chemistry and mathematics graduate, Jones is originally from Marshall County, Ky. As an adult student at Murray State, Jones worked his way through school while at Air Products in Calvert City, Ky. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from MSU.
During his career, Jones co-authored 19 patents related to the application and uses of plastics and synthetic materials. Retired from Albemarle, Jones continues to be an active and successful investor.
Ray, who lives of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., earned his B.S. from Murray in physics, chemistry and mathematics. While at Murray State, Ray was selected as the Outstanding Senior Man and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. A native of Calloway County, Ky., Ray went on to earn his master’s and doctorate at the University of Tennessee.
Currently, Ray is the founder and the CEO of GMT Ventures, a private equity firm. He was a founder, CEO, chairman and president of Titan Corp. until it was sold in 2005.
“These loyal alumni are a source of pride and inspiration to our college,” said Dr. Steve Cobb, dean of the Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “We’ll never be able to fully express our gratitude for the support and encouragement that these gifts provide. But we are thankful for these friends who value the opportunities that education can bring to individuals. Their visionary contributions are having an immediate impact on our ability to recruit, retain and educate students in the sciences. I’m confident that the generosity of Drs. Jones and Ray will allow future generations to enjoy similar successes.”
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