The University Record, January 21, 1997


Betty Jean Jones

Betty Jean Jones, associate dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and professor of theatre, died Jan. 9 in the crash of Comair Flight 3272 in southeast Michigan. She was 47.

Jones, returning from a conference in Las Vegas by way of Cincinnati when the crash occurred, had taught in the U-M Department of Theatre and Drama since September 1994. She was named associate dean for fellowships, recruitment and student support at the Graduate School in January 1996.

“Betty Jean had a remarkable and wide-ranging presence in the Graduate School and in the many places she touched in the University,” said Rackham Dean Nancy Cantor. “She was a model and a leader for her students, faculty colleagues, and for all of us at Rackham, who loved her dearly.”

Erik Fredricksen, chair of the theatre department, said that when he met Jones at a conference four years ago, he knew that he had to try to find a place for her on the U-M faculty.

“She has been a remarkable, energetic and passionate teacher, director and friend of students,” he said. “She has been a most rare, honest and valued colleague. Her passing is a great loss to all of us.”

Jones, the first associate dean at the Graduate School to serve as liaison with University departments in the arts and humanities, was an expert in classic contemporary American theater and African American theater and cinema.

She directed more than two dozen stage productions and originated and directed American Theatre and Drama Projects, a collaborative process in which the entire theatrical production team studies the script together before casting the production.

Prior to joining the U-M, Jones taught for 12 years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she also received a master’s degree in 1978. She earned a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in 1983 and received a bachelor’s degree from Bennett College in 1971.

She is survived by her father, Silas Jones of Albany, Ga., and two sisters, Anita Jones of San Rafael, Calif., and Mildred Spovall of Margate, Fla. She was preceded in death by her mother, Irene.

A memorial service is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thurs. (Jan. 23) at Rackham Amphitheatre, followed by a celebratory reception at Trueblood Theatre in the Frieze Building. A family service was held Jan. 15 in Albany, Ga.

Contributions to a scholarship fund in her name can be sent to the Department of Theatre and Drama, 2550 Frieze Bldg., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1285, or by calling 764-5350.

R. Clay Porter

R. Clay Porter, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering, died Dec. 14 in San Jose, Calif. He was 94.

A pioneer in air-pollution studies for power plant and industrial smoke stack emissions, Porter’s work influenced stack design and plant siting throughout the United States and Canada.

Porter spent 36 years at the U-M, first as a graduate student in mechanical engineering and then as a member of the faculty. He began teaching as an instructor in 1937 and was promoted to assistant professor in 1940, to associate professor in 1943 and to professor in 1949. He retired from the faculty in 1973.

Porter was a registered professional engineer in Michigan and served the State Board of Registration as an examiner for 20 years. He was a regular and active participant at the American Power Conference in 1950-70. In 1968, Porter was elected as a Fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He also was a member and faculty adviser to Tau Beta Pi, the leading Engineering Honorary Society, for 12 years. At his retirement, the R. Clay Porter Award was created by the society and has since been awarded to eight faculty and staff members.

Porter received his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from the University of Kentucky in 1925 and his master’s degree in 1935. He received a master of science degree from the U-M in 1938.

He is survived by his wife, Isabel, of San Jose, Calif.; two sons, Stephen and Richard, and one granddaughter, Jessica. Memorial services have already taken place.


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