Clayton Jones (’71)

Category: Awards | Distinguished Alumnus/Alumna

2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award Winner

Clayton Jones retired in 2013 after eleven years as chairman and CEO of Rockwell Collins Inc., an aviation electronics and communications-equipment company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Jones, a UT Torchbearer, graduated in 1971 with a degree in political science. He served for eight years as a fighter pilot in the US Air Force, and then began his thirty-four-year career with Rockwell International. Before becoming chairman and CEO, he had leadership roles that included vice president and general manager of Collins Air Transport Division; corporate senior vice president of Government Operations and International in Washington DC; senior vice president of Rockwell International; and president of Rockwell Collins.

In 1982, he served a fellowship in the White House Executive Exchange program, where he was assigned to the Environmental Protection Agency. He earned an MBA from George Washington University in 1986.

He currently serves on the board of directors for Cardinal Health, Deere and Company, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. He also serves on the board of governors of the Aerospace Industries Association and is a member of the Business Roundtable, the Business Council, and the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. He is an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Jones returned to campus in 2009 to participate in the Accomplished Alumni program, allowing UT students to benefit from his experiences in the community and the business world.

He and his wife, Debbie, are active supporters of the Center for Leadership and Service. They established the Leadership Programming Endowment, which is used to expand leadership opportunities across campus and encourage students to have more experiences in leadership roles in campus organizations. This program helps expand several of UT’s key student programs, such as the Ignite Summit and the Emerging Leaders Program. He and Debbie also helped establish the Torchbearer 2000 Endowment, which supports students involved in activities and community service at the university. Clay currently serves on the UT Knoxville Alumni Board of Directors.