A friend of a friend-James B. Chavis – Diane Jones-May 1

One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for May 1, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

On Friday at the UNC Pembroke Faculty Awards program Dr. Laura Staal won the Diane O. Jones Community Service Award. That award is named after a friend of mine Diane Oxendine Jones.

At our university we have had some pretty dynamic leaders in the area of Student Affairs. In fact we have only had three Student Affairs Vice-Chancellors at UNC Pembroke for the past forty years. Two of those three leaders were Dr. James B. Chavis and my friend Dr. Diane O. Jones. They combined to work at UNC Pembroke a total of 68 years. Diane and James B. both graduated from Pembroke and each of them went on to earn a doctorate degree.

In 1999 Diane Jones became the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs when her mentor James B. Chavis retired that year. Diane came to work at UNC Pembroke in 1977 and spent her entire career in the Student Affairs area. She had a unique perspective on our university because her father-in-law the late Dr. English E. Jones was the Chancellor at UNC Pembroke from 1962-1978. Diane married English Jones son Randall who had spent a large part of his childhood living on the campus. Diane would frequently say that her father-in-law taught her to surround herself with good people and that was the mark of her leadership at Pembroke. The list of who she has hired that I deem as “A+” leaders is pretty extensive. One for sure is one of my former players Abdul Ghaffar show below with Diane at an Alumni Awards function.


Some of the other great leaders Diane hired include; Lisa Schaeffer, Aubrey Sweat, Cynthia Oxendine, Monica Osburn, Preston Swiney, Travis Bryant, James Bass, Shirley Rodgers, and Cathryn Shooter.

During Diane tenure at UNC Pembroke I came to view her as super professional and cooperative. Diane approached each day the same way for 34 years by exhibiting a passion for students. She created lots of sound policies and procedures that today provide a roadmap for creating a successful experience for our students. I could always see the   fundamental principle in all of Diane decisions we do it “if it benefit the students”.

Diane was also a very hard worker and she attended student events. When I was the Athletic Director I knew she may be the only person on campus that had more events to attend than me. I had empathy and appreciation for her support of student events.

Diane has a fantastic family of her own with two great sons Channing and David. Each of her sons has married beautiful and talented women whose families have strong and deep ties to our university. Diane and her husband Randall are retired today but they both remain visible and active in our community. Diane and Randall have supported a lot of great causes in our community including our hospital and the university. They also spend time with their grandchildren and their friends which are many.

Diane in 1989, was appointed director of student activities, and in 1993, she was appointed assistant vice-chancellor of student affairs. She was named vice-chancellor in 1999 when her mentor James B Chavis retired.  Over her career there where lots of milestones. The campus during her time as Vice-Chancellor evolved from a primary commuting campus to residential. She created programs and support staff for the changing demographics.

Diane was also involved in the Miss UNCP Scholarship Pageant, which just completed its 63rd year. That program thrived under Diane’s care. In fact UNCP actually produced a number of Miss North Carolina winners while Diane was in student affairs.

Diane got mentored by James B. Chavis. He was also Diane’s friend until he passed away in 2010.



The Friend of the Friend – JAMES B CHAVIS

James B

Starting the Student Affair Culture

Our campus has a culture of people caring about students. I like to believe that occurs everywhere and it probably does but at UNC Pembroke it is engrained in the fabric because of leaders like James B. Chavis who passed it on to Diane Jones and others.

James B Chavis was born on February 3, 1936, he was a 1963 graduate of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and worked 34 years at the University. After graduation he worked in public schools until her arrived at Pembroke in 1965. He started out as the director of the Student Center, when he retired in 1999 he had served as the vice-chancellor for Student Affairs for 21 years.

During his time at UNCP he had one break in service. In 1977 he took a year off in to serve the State of North Carolina as ombudsman, reporting directly to the governor Jim Hunt who had just been elected in 1976.

Jim Chavis loved to play golf and was extremely social. When he passed away the tribute and influence he had on students was evident at his funeral and memorial service based on the comments made. He made a difference in people’s lives because he cared. That was the culture he taught and passed on to Diane and many others. In 1987 UNCP opened up a new university center and it was named after Dr. James B. Chavis.


In 2010 Diane had this to say about Dr. Chavis:

He was a role model and mentor for all who knew and worked with him,” she said. “He was very approachable by students and staff.

“He had that special talent of making everyone feel special,” Dr. Jones said. “He loved UNCP and promoted the institution wherever he went.  “He was a true advocate for students and was always ready to go the extra mile or take the extra time to help resolve an issue or problem for a student,” she continued. “He will be missed as a friend, mentor and a professional in education.”

Today I still can see the culture that James B Chavis started in student affairs and his protégé Diane Jones refined. I hope that those in place will continue to remember what those two leaders were all about.

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