Today@Sam Article

Alumni To Address More Than 1,700 Fall Graduates

Nov. 19, 2015
SHSU Media Contact: Tammy Parrett

Two Sam Houston State University alumni who have achieved success in their respective fields will share their thoughts and secrets to success with approximately 1,763 graduating students during commencement exercises on Dec. 11-12.

SunTrust executive Charles Jones will address Friday candidates, at 9:30 a.m. for the Colleges of Criminal Justice and Health Sciences and at 2:30 p.m. for the College of Business Administration.

Former chair of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Rissie Owens will speak at Saturday’s exercises, at 9:30 a.m. for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and at 2:30 p.m. for the Colleges of Education and Fine Arts and Mass Communication.

All four ceremonies will take place in the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.

To see the full commencement schedule, click here.

Charles JonesJones graduated from SHSU with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance in 1981, after which he began working as a collections specialist at American Bank in Huntsville.

He was able to perfect his skills and began moving up the ranks, working as assistant vice president and vice president at a number of banks across the country.

In 2002, Jones joined Wells Fargo Dealer Services as senior vice president and division manager, a position he held until 2007. With Wells Fargo, he received the West Corp Leadership Award, the highest individual award for leadership within the company.

He also was responsible for leading the southeast division–which is now the second largest division in the corporation–to profitability for the first time ever.

He was promoted to senior vice president and indirect product manager for dealer services in 2007, a position that made him the national co-head for the combined field operations of Wells Fargo Dealer Services, where he oversaw $2 billion in monthly auto loan originations, the most of any auto finance organization in the nation.

Jones left Wells Fargo in 2013 and founded Strategic Automotive Consultants, a consulting firm dedicated to helping auto finance or consumer lending organizations of all sizes increase revenues and profitability and improve operational efficiency.

He joined SunTrust in 2014 as head of dealer financial services and national indirect lending.

Jones currently lives in Smyrna, Georgia, with his wife Debbie. They have a 29-year-old daughter and focus their time, energy, and resources on helping first-generation students achieve their educational goals.

Rissie OwensBorn and raised in Bryan, Owens is a 1980 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a member of the SHSU President’s Circle. 

During her more than 25 years in the educational and criminal justice fields, Owens has served as a case manager for the Brazos County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority, probation officer in Galveston County, a grievance and field coordinator with the Texas Department of Corrections, and a court coordinator with the Brazos County 272nd District Court.

In 1997, Gov. George W. Bush appointed her to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and in 2003 he appointed her as the first woman chairman of the board. She was reappointed as chairman in 2009 by Gov. Rick Perry, a position she held until her 2015 retirement.

Owens had many accomplishments during her time on the board, such as being recognized both nationally and internationally as a model for releasing authorities.

She was instrumental in working to develop practices that have increased parole approval rates and reduced the revocation rate of offenders. Her collaboration with legislators, other criminal justice agencies and stakeholders also has been invaluable in establishing open lines of communication.

Owens lives in Huntsville with her husband Ed, who also is an SHSU alumnus. They have one son, Edward “Trey” Owens III.

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