Syracuse University Magazine

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Patrick Jones

Fine Tuning

When Jones graduated from high school in a decaying mill town outside of Philadelphia, his prospects were limited. At the time, the practical thing for him to do was join the Army—a decision that launched a military career spanning three decades. Jones, who played the trombone throughout high school in jazz ensembles, bands, and pit orchestras around town, was accepted into the Army band program and served on active duty for three years before joining the reserves. In 1989, he was commissioned an officer and became commander and conductor of the 553rd Air Force Band under the command of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. He served as commander of the band for 11 years, then moved to the Pentagon as chief of Air National Guard bands for the entire country. “It was my job to make sure all 11 Air National Guard bands were ready to deploy at a moment’s notice for funerals, concerts, parades, and troop entertainment all over the world, including war zones,” Jones says. “We deployed 10-piece pop rock groups to small forward operating bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the troops didn’t get any other entertainment.”  

Jones has had two careers simultaneously. While serving in the National Guard, he held faculty positions at SUNY Fredonia, the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and Boston University, where he was chair of the music education department. Retiring from the military last fall at the rank of colonel, he moved to Syracuse with his wife, Karen Weiss Jones, assistant dean for advancement in the College of Arts and Sciences, to take up his new duties at the Setnor School. “I was attracted to Syracuse University by its vision of Scholarship in Action,” Jones says. “This is where my military training comes in because for me, it’s all about the mission—to prepare the next generation of students for a complex global society.” 

Jones believes the Setnor School—with its many opportunities to learn beyond the classroom—is a great place for students to master the variety of skills they’ll need to chart successful music careers in the 21st century. For example, the school’s Community Music Division, which offers private music lessons to members of the Syracuse community, helps students hone their teaching skills; the Center for Live Music, a research center and arts business incubator, involves students in original research and in creating business, marketing, and educational products and services for local arts organizations; and Music Works, which will soon provide digital publishing and audio support, will give students experience in arranging music for clients outside of class. “Clearly, Setnor has the total educational package in a university that’s committed to marshaling all of its resources to make a difference in the world,” Jones says. “The University’s vision of learning for the world, in the world, really resonates with me—this is where my heart is.” —Christine Yackel

Photo by Steve Sartori