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From Factory to Faculty: Dr. Benton Jones’s Journey from Manufacturing to Education

January 17, 2024 | Payton Potter | Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Benton Jones

CHATTANOOGA, TN -- From working in manufacturing in Marion County to teaching business and management at Bryan College, Dr. Benton Jones’s story is one of taking advantage of opportunities as they arise and building a hopeful future despite unexpected changes. 

Jones’s story was unique from its beginning, he said. When he enrolled at Chattanooga State Community College after high school, he was already married and working full-time. 

“I went one semester but decided to go to work in manufacturing,” he said. “About 8 years later, I came back and finished my associate degree at ChattState.” 

For Jones, ChattState was advantageous because the college allowed him to take classes in a variety of settings: Online, in-person in both Chattanooga and Kimball, and even by taped lectures he could watch from home on VHS tapes. 

After finishing his associate degree at ChattState, Jones went on to complete both bachelor's and master's degrees at Bryan College. He then taught as an adjunct instructor at ChattState and Bryan College while he continued his full-time career in manufacturing. 

He then took a full-time job in administration at Bryan College and later became an assistant professor. 

Jones went on to complete a doctorate and now works at Bryan College as its Assistant Professor of Business and the Director of the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program. Reflecting on his unconventional educational journey, Jones said he believes it has uniquely prepared him to teach and mentor students in all stages of learning. 

"One of my areas of expertise as a professor is active learning,” he said. “Because I came from industry, where learning is more about training, I created active learning exercises where students are using Legos to learn the principles of project management or scissors to cut out shapes and create a supply chain in the classroom.” 

While advanced degrees can prepare students for more specified careers, Jones said any amount of higher education helps open doors for students aiming for better careers. 

“I couldn't be a professor without the degrees that I have,” he said. “But, being an employee, I think the bachelor’s or the associate degree makes you a more well-rounded person. It makes you able to speak outside of your technical expertise and better prepares you for management.” 

Jones said he and his wife both credit ChattState with helping them start their careers. 

“The general and business-specific education I received at Chattanooga State prepared me for my future degrees,” he said. “Experiencing faculty who care for their students prepared me for a career as an educator myself. And, Chattanooga State helped my wife, who was already a wonderful person, become a great nurse.”