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Dr. Elva Jones earns the UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching 2023

Dr. Elva J. Jones is professor and founding and current chair of the Department of Computer Science at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), a position she has held since 1991. She obtained the bachelor’s degree in business from WSSU, a master’s in business from the UNCG, a master’s in operations research and the Ph.D. in Industrial & Systems Engineering/Computer Studies from NCSU, the first African American woman to attain a doctorate in the area.

A highly accomplished teacher-scholar, Dr. Jones’ accomplishments include a range of academic innovations; an active research, publication, and extramural funding record; and an exemplary record of service. She strives to ensure continuous improvement of the department and to keep its programs cutting edge and innovative. Her problem-based methods for teaching computer science are replicated nationally. Current and former students praise her strong mentoring, and their success in graduate programs and in careers attests to her impact. The program is a recognized leader in graduating African American males and women in the field.

Dr. Elva J. Jones

Dr. Jones’ showed an early interest in curriculum development; when there was no computer science program, she taught students coding during her lunch hour. Her passion for curriculum development grew as she provided leadership for developing minor, major, and master-level programs in computer science and information technology. Recently, she led the development of a graduate certificate program in Data Analytics and participated in the development of an undergraduate minor in Data Science.

Dr. Jones has focused her research and scholarship toward acquiring funding to support programs and students with a focus on student professional and personal development. She has secured grants to ensure that students have access to adequate facilities, can attend conferences, and participate in competitions; to schedule professional development seminars so that students can engage with employers and alumni; and to ensure that they have access to internships and coops. Since 2000, she has secured more than 12 million dollars, from which she has received Sponsored Programs’ Funded Grand Award more than 15 times. In 2020, she received the “Red Jacket” Distinguished Grant Funding Award and the Million Dollar Award in 2012.

Dr. Jones has received numerous honors for her contributions. In 2005, the university named the new computer science building in her honor, and in 2010, she was named one of the Most Important African Americans in Technology. Other honors/awards include the following: Google Faculty in Residence (FIR) Fellow (2021); the Information Technology Seminar Management Forum (ITSMF) Ivory Dome Education Leadership Award (2009); and the City of Winston-Salem Outstanding Women Leaders Award (2006). From 1994-1997, she was a NASA JOVE Fellow at the Goddard Space Flight Center, receiving its 1997 Research Award. Currently, Dr. Jones is Co-PI for the NSF Funded Grant: “Collaborative Research: CISE-MSI:RPEP: SaTC: HBCU Artificial Intelligence and CyberSecurity (AI-CyS) Research Partnership .”

Dr. Jones’ service record is also exemplary. She has served on the boards of a number of professional organizations, including the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM); the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society; the NSF National Canvasing Committee for CISE Directors Search; the Big South Data Hub – Education Working Group; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine: Best Practices for a Future Open Code Policy for NASA Space Science; and NCWIT (National Center for Women in Technology) Academic Alliance. A commissioner (2010-2015; 2022- 2026) and an evaluator for the ABET Computing Accreditation Commission, she also serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Departments of Computer Science at Minority Institutions (ADMI, 1996-Present) and of the NC Space Grant (NCSG) Consortium (1997-Present); on review panels for the NSF and the DHS; and on the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce Technology and Innovation Council.

Dr. Jones’ teaching philosophy captures her raison d’etre: “I am committed to teaching, mentoring, and motivating students to advance their educational position and enhance their passion and gifts.” She communicates to students her love of discipline and continues the legacy of expanding student opportunities passed down to her by many of her own professors. Dr. Jones is married to Emory Jones, an alumnus and former WSSU faculty member; the couple has one son, Eugene, also an alumnus.

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