The Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Service Award


Dr. Melvin D. Jones
Oklahoma Philanthropist

Melvin D. Jones

Dr. Melvin D. Jones

Oklahoma State University is pleased to honor Dr. Melvin D. Jones, an eminent Oklahoma philanthropist who has enjoyed success as an educator, an author, a scientist, a diplomat, and a business executive. Despite the adversities of poverty and ill health, he worked his way through college and received his B.S. and M. S. degrees in agronomy from Oklahoma State University. He later received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Nebraska, at the age of twenty-four. Dr. Jones is the co-developer of six varieties of farm crops; the author of many educational and scientific papers; and two nationally-used university textbooks.

At OSU he was elected President of the Agronomy Club and Alpha Zeta, as well as National President of the student section of the American Society of Agronomy. In 1945, he joined the faculty of the Agronomy Department at OSU as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Professor of Agronomy in 1949, the youngest full professor in the history of OSU at that time. Following a very successful teaching career, he served the U.S. Department of State as a Research Adviser in Cuba from 1951-1954, for which he received the Citation of Merit from the Cuban Minister of Agriculture. Dr. Jones was the first American assigned to the Point Four Program headed by the man for whom this award is named.

Following post-doctoral work in the field of insurance at Southern Methodist University, Dr. Jones joined the University National Life Insurance company in Norman, Oklahoma -- a company he served for five years before joining the American Founders Life Insurance Company of Austin, Texas as Executive Vice President, serving later as President, In 1968, he became President and Chairman of the Board of the Mark Twain Life Insurance company in Oklahoma City and continues to serve in that capacity.

Dr. Jones is a charter member of the Board of Governors of the OSU Foundation; a member of the Board of Directors of the OSU Alumni Association (and served as President of the Association in 1976-77); Vice President of the Higher Education Alumni Council of Oklahoma; a Chartered Life Underwriter; co-founder and President of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame; recipient of the coveted Silver Beaver Award for his work with the Boy Scouts of America; a 32nd degree Mason; and a member of the Oklahoma State University Alumni Hall of Fame.

Year of Award: 1980