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Larry Jones -- 100 Alumni You Should Know


Larry Jones

Larry Jones -- 100 Alumni You Should Know

 

USAO alum Larry Jones had his career choice and life path changed from a chance meeting with USAO President Roy Troutt in the hallway. A meeting that has kept him on the cutting edge of technology and afforded him the opportunity to work with global corporations and the government.

Jones graduated from the university in 1986 with a computer science degree.  Initially, he was an accounting major, but was approached by Troutt, who asked Jones to declare computer science as his major so the university could offer it as degree program.  

“I was told they needed at least six people to declare computer science as their major to officially offer it as a degree program at USAO. I figured why not, I could declare a double major and help the university and who knows, it would be nice to learn about computers since they could be important to an accountant.  They told me that if I didn’t want to earn a computer science degree I could always drop the declaration before graduation and just major in accounting,” Jones said.

“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time I guess and little did I know then how that decision would change my life’s direction.” 

Because of his degree in computer science, Jones has been asked to travel and consult for companies all over the world.  “I was living in Blanchard, Oklahoma when one Saturday the president of ICC and the general manager for Sears of Canada knocked on my door and ask me to travel to Toronto.  It was a strange sight to see the two men in suits getting out of their Jaguar after coming down the dirt road to find me.  Since that time, Jones has been requested by various business and government agencies around the nation to help with a variety of computer solutions.

But while computers have been a hobby for Jones, so was athletics. 

“USAO offers a unique educational opportunity that few universities do.  The general education requirement is large compared to other universities, but because of that requirement, it afforded me the opportunity to be well-grounded in a variety of areas.  This has served me well in all aspects of business and life.

As a result of the education hours Jones took as part of the general education requirement at USAO, he would become the first person in the state of Oklahoma to attain an Oklahoma Alternative Standard Certification and become a high school teacher.  He would teach and coach for several years in Oklahoma at a variety of levels.

“Had I chosen another university I would have been pigeon-holed into a single computer related vocation.  USAO offered me the opportunity to change vocations and teach and coach at the high school level -- a job that I loved.”  Jones continued his coaching after leaving teaching to resume computer work, later becoming a member of the softball 1,000-win club as a softball coach and coaching championship teams in volleyball, basketball and softball. 

In his last year teaching, Jones opened one of the first internet service providers (ISP) and was the first ISP audited by the IRS. 

“It was intimidating to be audited. When I first sat down, the agent told me that I needed to explain the $25,000 in phone bills taken as expense and prove every minute of every phone call was business related. He had settled in for the long haul.  When I responded that it would be impossible as no business calls were made.  I was asked if I knew the penalty for fraud and I responded that there was no fraud, the $25,000 was just the basic monthly charges, no calls.  It was the basic monthly charge for 100 phone land lines at $22 at month each. After reading each of the monthly statements, he sat silenced for a while then apologized.  He told me he had heard about ‘this internet thing’ and he guessed he would need to learn more about it as there were sure to be others in the future.”

In 2010, Jones designed and implemented an IT solution for Collin County, Texas that was recognized by IBM as the best technical solution and implementation in the world earning their coveted Bee Award edging Sogetti of France and Virtechi of Jordan as the world’s best.  The project removed 28 computer racks hosting 179 physical servers down to a half rack of high powered blade servers using virtualization. 

Jones would later be approached by the Department of Justice and Later Homeland Security about creating similar solutions.

While at USAO, Jones became student government president. While president, he created the “Student Discount Card.” He went to businesses throughout Chickasha and put in place contracts that would give students, with their SDC and a valid university ID, a 10 percent discount on food, drinks, and goods.

“I remember Pizza Hut was about to go out of business in Chickasha.  I walked in as the regional manager and store manager planned the store’s closure.  Both of their jobs were in jeopardy and the place was dark and completely empty. 

“I told them about the plan for the SDC and that most stores were giving 10 percent off, some with free drinks.  I told them if they would give 20 percent and free drinks, the students would choose the largest discount, and they did in a big way.  The business not only remained open but expanded to open a new store next to McDonalds in the most prime location in Chickasha at that time within a year,” Jones said.

Jones would also make arrangements with the university for a room in the library to create a typing room for students that would later become a computer room and several other programs to benefit students. 

When asked what advise Jones would give to current students, he said -- “I remember a class with Dr. Feaver (now USAO’s president).  I was presenting how I believed one day computers would be ‘very small and function oriented.’  I went on to say that we would wear them on our wrists, they would monitor our health, they would….  he stopped me only a short time into the planned 15-minute presentation and told me, ‘Larry, your presentation is great; I will give you a perfect score on that part.  Your subject matter however is so fantasyland with tiny watch size computers that I cannot give you a good grade on that, the best I can do there is a D, so an average score of 80.’

“Of course, neither of us could have envisioned Apple watches or what will be coming next, but I would tell current students to have a vision, regardless of how fantastic it may seem. If you can dream it, you can achieve it.  Be confident in your vision and use contrary evidence to solidify and better your vision. When a challenge arises, cherish it!  It is from that forge we do great things!”

Help the USAO Alumni Association celebrate its 100th anniversary by submitting a 100 Alumni You Should Know profile at https://usao.edu/forms/100-alumni