For 54 years, Tom Jones has been connected to the Taylor community.
Now retired from his role as interim provost, Jones was part of Taylor first as a student, later as a professor of history and dean of faculty development, and most recently as interim provost following the transition between former provost Michael Hammond and current Provost Jewerl Maxwell.
Though he officially retired on Dec. 30, 2021, Jones was helpful in Maxwell’s transition to Taylor.
“To me, Dr. Jones is the embodiment of all the positive attributes of Taylor University's culture,” Maxwell said. “As I transitioned to Taylor, on the personal side, Dr. Jones served as a pastoral role with genuine kindness and wise counsel. On the professional side, Dr. Jones continued to share rich knowledge of Taylor's history and encouragement for me in my future at the University.”
Jones’ commitment to both Taylor and Indiana education was recognized by Indiana AP Gov. Eric Holcomb on Dec. 10 during the annual Silent Night basketball game.
Holcomb awarded Jones the Sagamore of the Wabash award, one of Indiana’s highest honors.
“As a lifelong Hoosier and student of history, Tom's knowledge of Indiana and the people who call it home is not only vast but dotted by an incalculable number of personal connections,” said President Michael Lindsay. “It is those personal connections that have enhanced Tom’s service at Taylor University – from his relationships with generations of students to the numerous faculty members with whom he has served.”
The Sagamore of the Wabash award was created in 1945 by former Indiana Governor Ralph Gates.
It is awarded by the sitting governor to people who have given distinguished service to the state, the Sagamore Institute said. Until the creation of the Sachem award in 2005, the Sagamore of the Wabash award was the highest honor in the state of Indiana.
Other awardees have included athletes, politicians, actors and astronauts.
"Being recognized as a Sagamore of the Wabash by Governor Holcomb and President Lindsay in a half-time ceremony during the Silent Night game was a great — and surprising — honor,” Jones said. “However, the opportunity to be part of the Taylor University family as a student, professor, dean and interim provost for more than 50 years has been an even greater honor. I am profoundly grateful to all who coordinated the details regarding the Sagamore of the Wabash award and ceremony and am even more grateful to Taylor's trustees, presidents, professors and colleagues who encouraged and challenged me in so many ways over the years."