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Black History Month: R.W.E. Jones — the first man known as Grambling’s ‘Prez’

Grambling State University is currently in great hands under President Rick Gallot, but how much do you know about the contributions of the original “Prez?”


The college now known as GSU  has seen so much change since it was founded in 1901. One man that helped lay the foundation for what would become Grambling State University is Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones. 


The legend that is President RWE Jones tells the story of an ever-growing university in North Louisiana. With more than 50 years of service in multiple areas throughout the City of Grambling and the university, Jones represents everything that is Grambling. 


Grambling has many legends that have stood the test of time. Jones arrived at the university in 1926 and became president in 1936. When Jones first arrived in Grambling, the university was called Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institution.


While teaching multiple courses at the university, Jones launched the baseball team, and the Grambling Marching Band. During Jones’ time as a professor,  he worked under the leadership of the school’s first president, Charles P. Adams. 


In 1926 the Grambling Band was formed when Jones took it upon himself to purchase instruments out of a Sears catalog to kickstart the band. 


By 1964 Jones was providing transportation to San Diego for the band to perform halftime of the American Football League Championship. 


Jones led the Tigers baseball team to the NAIA tournament in 1961, ’63, ’64, and ’67.  


Grambling amassed major athletic successes during Prez’s tenure. One of the biggest moves Jones made was hiring Eddie Robinson as the college’s  head football coach in 1941.  


During his tenure at the university, Jones connected with many other great people including his assistant baseball coach Wilbert Ellis to create a legendary athletic program.  


Ellis went on to succeed Jones as Grambling’s baseball coach, earning 715 coaching wins,  while Robinson would win a once-college record 408 games as head football coach. 


Named in Jones’ honor are the university’s Baseball Stadium and R.W.E Jones Drive in the city of Grambling – the main entrance to the university off of Interstate 20.


 In 2011 Jones was posthumously inducted into the National College Hall of Fame. 


Jones is also credited with coining the university slogan, “Where Everybody is Somebody.”