It is with sadness we say goodbye to an emeritus University of Utah professor. Dr. Dan Jones has played a prominent role in education and he has taught for over 52 years. Professor Jones served as a professor to both the U and Utah State. Thousands have been inspired by his lectures on our government. Numerous Utahn leaders have received early mentoring by Professor Jones.
Molly Wheeler is a former student of Jones. “I remember taking POLS 1100 as a seemingly mundane general credit. I was one of 100 plus students in an auditorium every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. I was completely naïve to the gravity that class and Dan Jones would have in shaping the trajectory of my academic, professional and civic life.
“Jones was an engaging lecturer with an infectious passion for politics. He was gruff on the surface and held high expectations for his students — he could be intimidating. Through these traits, however, he had an innate ability to push people to reach a potential they did not realize they had. I remember a rush of anxiety before class one morning when Dr. Jones sat down next to me and plainly informed me that I was going to be the top student that semester and to not disappoint him. It wasn’t a question. It wasn’t a suggestion. It wasn’t even encouragement. It was an expectation, and he motivated me to meet it.
“I went on to take his other classes, work as his TA, and complete several internships. Dr. Jones would always touch base with me to see how I was doing in school, work and life more generally. He cared about me and my wellbeing, and he was always willing to go to bat on my behalf. After graduating, Dan continued to advocate for me as I went to graduate school in London and eventually came back to look for jobs back in Utah.
“For me, what Dr. Jones did was exceptional. He helped change the trajectory of my life. However, for Dr. Jones, he was simply doing for me what he would do for anyone else. That is Dan Jones’ legacy. He made his students feel seen, capable and cared about. Dr. Jones always told students to, ‘do something ordinary extraordinarily well,’ but Dan Jones did something extraordinary extraordinarily well.”
Director Jason Perry was a friend of Jones and spoke upon his character. “Dan was a great orator. He would at times speak quietly to get students to lean in and pay attention and crescendo to almost shouting about the importance of government and civic engagement. He also cared deeply about students and, even in big lecture halls, would notice when students weren’t in class and he would call them to make sure they were ok.”
Jones was Utah’s premier pollster, trusted by local and national politicians and business leaders alike to drive deep into the heart of complex issues and deliver accurate and valuable results.
Professor Jones worked with many professional individuals and his wife, Mrs. Pat Jones, to share his passion.
“He appreciated the American system and wanted to share this passion with the young people of Utah. He believed in our country and wanted people to actively participate in its affairs. He was a student of founding fathers and had a true love for history.” Professor Jones and Mrs. Jones worked together to operate Dan Jones & Associates, the leading market research and public opinion company in Utah.
Professor Jones wanted all his students to succeed but demanded that they put in the work to earn the grades. He also wanted students to engage in experiential learning and encouraged hundreds of students to complete internships or work on campaigns.
In his over 50 years of teaching, he only missed one class. Professor Jones felt so guilty about it that he got Senator Orrin Hatch to be his substitute teacher.
At the end of the day, Dr. Jones was passionate about the wellbeing of his students. He recognized that not every student would go on to be a politician, but he fostered an appreciation of civic engagement that could transcend any career or academic path.