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Finding Her Voice: Dr. Rose Jones Steps Down as Director of Marketing and Communications

Sara Wielenberg | Staff Writer | 10-19-2011

Bucky the Beaver strode onto the third floor of Deputy, greeted by a cry of pleasant surprise from Director of Communications and Marketing Dr. Rose Jones. Dr. Jones hugged Bucky repeatedly after he presented her with a framed basketball poster signed by Bemidji State’s women’s and men’s basketball teams, of which she is a fan.

Dr. Jones came to BSU in February of 2006 as the Director of Marketing. When her son Jeff searched for colleges, she noticed he never seemed to get what she called that “sparkle” at any of the many schools where he applied and was accepted. They came to BSU for a tour and she knew well before the end of the tour: “I knew this would be his place,” said Dr. Jones.

He wasn’t the only one who fell for the school, either. “Steve and I fell in love with it,” said Jones, referring to her husband. She vowed then that if she could help give Bemidji State “swagger” she would, and so when the job as Director of Marketing came up, she took the opportunity. In August of 2006, she became the Director of Communications and Marketing, while her husband lived and worked in Little Canada, Minnesota. She is stepping down at BSU to move back there to be with her husband again.

Dr. Jones knew well what it was like to be missing that sparkle. Since she grew up in the small town of Trimont, Minnesota, her parents had nudged her into attending the University of Minnesota-Morris, thinking the small community would be an easier transition. “I hated it,” Jones said. At the end of her freshman year, she transferred to the U of M in Minneapolis without telling her parents. There, she said, “I felt like I was going to be somebody.”

At the U of M she attained an undergraduate degree in journalism and planned on being a weekly newspaper editor. Instead she became the Public Information Officer in the vocational and technical education division, which is now part of MnSCU. There she planned at wrote news releases. This position allowed her to see a side to journalism she hadn’t known before. It was combining education and journalism. She received her Masters of Education at the University of Illinois, where she met her husband.

She and her husband lived in Sudan for a time while she wrote curriculae. “It was a wonderful experience,” said Jones. When they returned to the U.S., they both studied Agriculture at Iowa State and attained their PhD with the intent of returning to Sudan. Instead, they remained in the States, and for seven years Dr. Jones ran her own public relations business.

As Director of Communications and Marketing, Dr. Jones is involved in many different aspects of BSU, including athletic media relations, graphic communications, royalties and licensing, among other things. She describes her job this way: “Worrying about our brand,” and “Promoting the university through the Integrated Marketing Team.” The Integrated Marketing Team is comprised of representatives from many different parts of the campus. Go Green Fridays is one of their concepts that has taken off to support both the school and the things it stands for, such as the environment.

When she was first hired, then-President Jon Quistgaard charged her with unifying the look and message of Bemidji State. This involved defining the Bemidji State green and making the materials for departments as diverse as Admissions and Athletics look similar and connected. “I’m very proud that I had a part to play in that unification,” said Dr. Jones.

She’s also very pleased with her work with Bucky. “In the last five years,” she said, “Bucky has become a big presence at Bemidji State and even in the community.” Part of dealing with royalties and licensing means working with Bucky’s image and the BSU logo on products. Jones said, “President Quistgaard teased me that Bucky bobble-heads would be my legacy.” Even as Dr. Jones was saying good-bye to her colleagues, she was suggesting ideas for the next Bucky bobble-head.

Dr. Jones was also the editor for Bemidji State’s Horizons magazine. Under Al Nohner’s editorship, it was a tabloid newspaper, but the last two publications produced under him were magazines, and it has remained that way under Dr. Jones. The goal of the magazine is to share the success of BSU Alumni. “The thing that struck me about Bemidji State is it’s all about people,” said Jones. The cover of Horizons always features a person, and Dr. Jones makes sure the focus of the magazine remains on people. “Average people come into Bemidji State,” said Jones, “and go on to do remarkable things.” The stories of Horizons reflect these remarkable things and Jones sees that potential in every student that comes to BSU.

Someone once described Bemidji State to Dr. Jones as “the little engine that could,” and she readily agrees with that idea. “It’s always moving forward with its goals,” said Dr. Jones. She praises the students as bright and hard-working. The experience of working here, she says, has been “wonderful” and “phenomenal.” “This is a great place to be at, just like the slogan. I’m going to miss it,” she said. After five and a half years apart, however, she feels it is time to be back in the same place as her husband. She has no definite plans for a job, but she says, “I get to step back and see what it is I want to do with the last part of my career.” She also plans to pursue things she has let fall by the wayside.

One of those things she hopes to pick up again is a blog she began a year or two ago. She lost track of it, however, and laughingly says, “I have to find it.” She began the blog to pursue her more creative side. “It dawned on me,” said Jones, “that I didn’t know what I would say. I could hear the president’s voice in my head and I knew what he’d say, but I didn’t know what I would say.” Once she locates the blog, she plans to begin writing in it regularly again. In this next stage of her life, Dr. Jones says, “I am looking forward to finding out what Rosie’s voice is.”