James B. "J.B." Jones of Blacksburg is the recipient of the 2008 William H. Ruffner Medal, Virginia Tech's most prestigious honor.
The Ruffner Medal is awarded at commencement to recognize individuals who have performed notable and distinguished service to the university.
Jones, a 1944 graduate in mechanical engineering, was a student leader while studying at the university and an outstanding teacher and mentor after returning here as a professor in 1964. He and his wife, Jane, a Virginia Tech alumna, have consistently provided philanthropic support to university programs and initiatives, including the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, the College of Engineering, and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. They are members of the Ut Prosim Society, the university’s most prestigious donor society.
While an undergraduate, Jones was active in the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Regimental Band -- commonly known as the Highty-Tighties -- and the German Club. He was Honor Court judge, was editor of the student newspaper The Virginia Tech, and had other social and honor society affiliations.
After working with the U.S. Department of War, Jones earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Purdue University. He taught at Purdue from 1945 to 1964 and was a Best Teacher Award winner there.
In 1964, Jones returned to Blacksburg to teach and mentor Virginia Tech engineering students. He headed the Department of Mechanical Engineering for 19 years and was named the Lingan S. Randolph Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
Jones has received numerous awards and honors in his field. He served on the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology, as well as its board of directors and executive committee. He was vice president for education for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and co-chaired The National Research Council Committee on Engineering Design Theory and Methodology. In 1991, three years after his retirement, Jones earned national recognition when the American Society of Mechanical Engineers presented him the James Harry Potter Gold Medal for contributions in thermodynamics.
Jones grew up in West Orange, N.J. His father, Alonzo L. Jones, graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in 1918.