Professor of African American Studies, Emeritus
Professor of Education, Emeritus
1931 – 2005
After a long illness, Reginald Lanier Jones died on September 24, 2005 in Oakland, California. Professor Jones was an internationally known psychologist who made significant contributions to scholarship, to public service and to his profession. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
Reg or Reggie, as many would call him, was born on January 21, 1931 to Naomi and E. Moses Cobb-Jones in Clearwater, Florida. While growing up in an era of legalized segregation, he enjoyed the warm support of family, friends, neighbors and especially his grandmother, Margaret Henry. Reading, the events of the day and accomplishments and activities of “Negroes” were standard topics of conversation at the family dinner table, and Reggie believed they played a significant role in his life and his later interest in psychology.
His father, E. Moses, was a musician who lived in Chester, Pennsylvania. He introduced Reggie to the “ways of the world” and a great variety of people from all walks of life. Reggie’s formal education saw him graduate in 1948 from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, where he participated in track and basketball as well as the drama, math and science clubs. After graduating third in a class of 165, he won a scholarship to Morehouse College. At Morehouse he pledged Omega Psi Phi fraternity and graduated with a B.A. in psychology in 1952.
After completing an M.A. in clinical psychology from Wayne State University in 1954, Reggie was drafted into the U.S. Army as a clinical psychologist. Following his stint in the army, Reggie entered the doctoral program at Ohio State University where he met and married a classmate, Johnette, who became the mother of his three daughters. Reggie graduated from Ohio State University with a Ph.D. in psychology in 1959.
Dr. Jones began his academic career at Miami University in 1959 and then moved to Fisk University in 1963. He worked briefly at Indiana University and the University of California, Los Angeles before moving back to Ohio State University, where he was a professor and vice chair of the psychology department, in 1969.
In 1969, Reggie accepted a position at the University of California, Riverside, where he was a professor and chair of the Department of Education. In 1972 the family moved to Africa, where Reggie was a professor and director of the University Testing Center at Haile Sellassie I University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Returning to California in 1974, Reggie joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where he held a variety of positions for the next 17 years. In addition to his role as a professor he was chair of the Department of African American Studies, director of the joint Ph.D. program in special education, and faculty assistant to the vice chancellor for academic affirmative action. In the early 1980s, he started his own publishing company and in 1988 he married Michele Woods.
On retiring from Berkeley in 1991, Reggie moved to Hampton, Virginia, where he assumed the position of Distinguished Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Hampton University. At Hampton he also chaired the department of psychology, directed the Center for Minority Special Education, and directed the Career Opportunities in Research program that provided mentoring and research training to undergraduates preparing for careers in mental health research.
Throughout his nearly 50-year career in psychology, Jones has engaged in research and writing in two primary areas: research on the psychology and education of exceptional children and writing and research on issues of race and psychology. He was instrumental in the development of black psychology as an area of academic scholarship. He promoted the work of more than three decades of prominent black psychologists through anthologies and collected works. Over the course of his distinguished career, Reggie produced 28 instructional videotapes in psychology; wrote over 200 papers, articles and reviews; and edited 22 books, including the widely adopted Black Psychology, New Directions in Special Education, Mainstreaming and the Minority Child, Problems and Issues in the Education of Exceptional Children, African American Children, Youth and Parenting, Black Adolescents, Black Adult Development and Aging, African American Mental Health, Advances in African American Psychology, and Handbook of Tests and Measurements for Black Populations (two volumes). He has been the associate editor of the American Journal of Mental Deficiency and editor of Mental Retardation, both journals of the American Association on Mental Retardation. His public service included appointments to President–elect Clinton’s Council of Advisors to the Education Transition Team, President Richard Nixon’s Task Force on Mental Health and a variety of other commissions and task forces at all levels of government.
Among Reggie’s many honors and awards were the Citation for Distinguished Achievement from Ohio State University, the J. E. Wallace Wallin Award from the Council for Exceptional Children, the Education Award from the American Association on Mental Retardation, the Distinguished Psychologist Award from the Association of Black Psychologists and the Berkeley Citation. In 2003 the American Psychological Association gave him its Distinguished Career Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology Award and its Lifetime Achievement Award for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues. He was a Fellow of the American Psychological Association for more than 30 years. Reggie’s insightful work and his impact on the lives of those who studied with him or knew him leave a legacy that will certainly live on.
It is with his family that his presence will be most keenly missed. He leaves behind three daughters and two sons-in-law, Kai and Habin Biscette of St. Lucia, Angela and Daniel Bateman of Reno, Nevada, and Cynthia Jones of Oakland, California; three grandchildren, Tony, Christopher and Gabrielle Bateman; a brother, Kenneth Johnson; a sister and brother-in-law, Sheryl and Victor Ogu.