Kathy Jones named associate VP for facilities engineering and planning

Kathy Jones, a registered architect with more than 30 years of experience managing complex projects and organizations across the U.S., has been appointed associate vice president for facilities engineering and planning.

A member of the FE&P staff since May 2006, Jones is currently assistant vice president for project management and engineering – a role in which she oversees all construction projects on campus and the operations of the Central Plant. Starting Aug. 1, she will be responsible for managing the nearly 300 staff members who provide maintenance, custodial service, groundskeeping, construction, engineering, business support, project management, sustainability and Central Plant operations for the university.

Kathy Jones

Kathy Jones

“Kathy is well-known around campus for being one of the most skilled project managers in the country and one of Rice’s best leaders,” said Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby. “She has personally led such challenging projects as the complete renovation of Keck Hall, the design and construction of the BioScience Research Collaborative as well as improvements for the BRC tenants, and the renovation and expansion of the south colleges. I have enormous confidence in her, and I was very pleased to make this appointment.”

Jones succeeds Jim Alty, who left Rice in the spring.

Kirby noted that Jones has served as the acting associate vice president for FE&P twice and “performed admirably” during the total of seven months spent in that role. In 2010 Jones received special recognition from the Rice Board of Trustees for her outstanding work with FE&P.

“The staff at FE&P are like a family and they care deeply about Rice,” Jones said. “That dedication to Rice is very evident when we are faced with emergencies or even calls for assistance in the middle of the night. I have the utmost admiration and respect for the men and women in this department, and I am proud of the work that they do and honored to be asked to lead them.”

Jones said she is “a firm believer that you should never ask anyone to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself,” and she proved that during Tropical Storm Bill by staying on campus to endure the storm with FE&P’s ride-out team.

“I believe in the servant leadership model: share leadership, value people, develop people, build community, display authenticity and provide leadership,” said Jones, who has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin.

A native of Fort Hood, Texas, Jones said her family moved a lot because her father was in the military. “I was in a different school every year from the third grade to the ninth grade. I learned to be flexible and make friends fast,” she said.

Before starting her career at Rice as a senior project manager, Jones spent 10 years working for the construction company Linbeck Group LP. She also served as director of construction administration for Shalom Baranes and Associates in Washington, D.C., and as a project architect for Wilson Architectural Group and Morris Architects, both in Houston.

“Having the opportunity to work for all three sides of the business — in design as an architect, in construction as the builder and with the owner as an administrator — has given me more appreciation for what each team member must face and hopefully the insight to be a better problem solver,” she said.

Jones has also gained helpful insight from her daughter, who graduated from Rice in 2014. “Audrey resided in McMurtry College all four years and spent many of her waking hours in the Abercrombie Engineering Laboratory as a chemical engineering student,” Jones said. “She was never shy about calling me when there was an issue for FE&P to address. Because of Audrey, I became more aware of the need for study spaces around campus where the students could work in teams. We are also in the middle of a programming exercise for student space that includes the Student Center, which was a major component of the Vision for the Second Century.”

Next year Jones will complete a decade of service to Rice, and she reflected on why working at the university is so appealing. “I enjoy the beautiful campus, the exceptional people that I get to work with every day and the energy that comes from being around the student population,” she said. “I love to attend the football and baseball games, too.”

When she’s not looking after Rice, chances are Jones is looking after her German Hanoverian and her retired quarter horse and Irish Sport horse. “Horses are my passion,” she said. “I rode when I was younger, and I am looking forward to doing it again.”

She also enjoys traveling. “One of my bucket-list items is to visit all 50 states,” Jones said. “I only have four states left.”

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.