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Retired NMSU chief of staff to receive honorary degree

Sharon A. Jones, who retired as chief of staff for New Mexico State University Chancellor Garrey Carruthers in July, will be recognized for her many contributions to the university with an honorary professional degree in management during the fall commencement ceremony.


Woman’s head and shoulders
Sharon A. Jones, who retired as chief of staff for New Mexico State University Chancellor Garrey Carruthers in July, will be recognized for her many contributions to the university with an honorary professional degree in management during the fall 2018 commencement ceremony. (Courtesy photo)

“Sharon’s honorary degree recognizes contributions that go well beyond her service to our great university,” Carruthers said. “She’s always been extraordinarily professional in all of her activities, from state government, to the private sector, to her time here at NMSU. Her work in public service is especially commendable. She has always had the best interest of the enterprise in mind in whatever she does. Sharon is also incredibly knowledgeable. Everyone relies on her counsel - so much so, that she tends to become the resident psychiatrist wherever she goes.”

Jones served as a senior administrator and eventually chief of staff for Carruthers from 2006 until her retirement.

“I was overwhelmed when I received the word I would be the honorary degree recipient at the December graduation ceremony,” Jones said. “It was totally unexpected and I am so thrilled by this honor.”

Jones and her husband, Ronn, were partners in a Farmington, N.M., grocery store for a number of years before becoming volunteers for individual candidates seeking public office, as well as the San Juan County Republican Party. The Joneses met Carruthers while volunteering for the 1976 Presidential Campaign.

In 1977, Mrs. Jones became the district director for U.S. Sen. Harrison Schmitt, managing his northwest New Mexico office. Later, she was asked by Carruthers, then Republican Party Chairman for New Mexico, to serve on the party’s executive committee. In 1985, she joined the Garrey Carruthers for Governor of New Mexico campaign as the organizational chair during the primary election and then as the campaign manager during the general election. Carruthers won the election and became the 27th Governor of New Mexico. Jones served as executive assistant to the governor during Carruthers’ administration in Santa Fe, New Mexico from 1987 to 1990.

After her years in government, Jones moved into the private sector first working for Wheeler Peak Capital Corporation investment group from 1991 to 1992. In 1992, she co-founded Cimarron Health Plan and served as director of operations, and then in 1996 she became vice president for government affairs and later vice president for administration until 2004. After Cimarron Health Plan was acquired by Molina Healthcare of New Mexico in July 2004, Jones became director of government programs and compliance from 2004 to 2006 when she retired along with her husband to Las Cruces.

In 2006, Jones became special assistant for the vice president of economic development for Garrey Carruthers, who was then the dean of the College of Business and vice president of economic development at NMSU. During her tenure at NMSU, Jones has been a member of the Aggie Athletic Club and a supporter of the Gage M. Gavin Memorial scholarship and the College of Business.

“Working with NMSU’s outstanding administration, faculty, staff and students has been a great privilege for me,” Jones said. “The dedication, focus and attention to improving NMSU has been an all-out effort in which I have been fortunate to share.”

Sharon Jones graduated with honors from Farmington High School and later attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. She and her husband have been married for 52 years and have two sons, Jason Jones, who resides in Sandusky, Ohio, and Jerry Jones, who resides in Santa Fe. Their family is graced with a number of grandchildren.