CCSU played a starring role in the lives of Charles “C.J.” Jones, ’69, ’72 and his wife Linda (Coggshall) Jones ’70, ’80, ’86.
The Terryville residents were both the first members of their families to go to college. They met and fell in love while C.J. was still an undergraduate and Linda was teaching in the South Windsor Public Schools. In 1974, they were married in the courtyard at CCSU.
Shortly after he graduated, C.J. joined the CCSU staff as assistant director of the Educational Opportunity Program, which prepares students in need of academic support for their freshman year at CCSU. In the fall of 1970, he became the program’s director and went on to helm the program for 25 years. Early in his tenure, the former CCSU basketball player also started coaching basketball — first as an assistant and then as head coach — and continued for 19 years. In 1995, C.J. was named athletic director.
Linda held various teaching and administrative roles in the New Britain public schools for 30 years and helped C.J. with EOP trips, athletic events, and fundraising.
Now both retired — Linda in 2003 and C.J. in 2009 — the Joneses have remained “true blue” to the University. C.J. serves on the CCSU Foundation board, the Homecoming Committee, and the Alumni Association Sports Committee, and they’re both helping coordinate the 50th anniversary celebration of EOP, slated for June 29 and 30, 2018.
In the 1990s, C.J. and Linda created their own scholarship fund, earmarked specifically for the programs dearest to their hearts: EOP, the athletic department, and, in Linda’s tradition, students from New Britain going into careers in education.
For C.J., support of the EOP program pays off again and again.
“Students who went through the EOP program consequently went to college, and their kids and grandkids went to college — it affected generations of students,” he says. “I’m amazed every year at someone’s kid who’s going to Yale, Harvard, all started with their parent going to the EOP program — it has been a major part of our lives.”
To show their continuous support for EOP, athletics, and their scholarship funds, the couple recently bequeathed a majority of their estate to CCSU.
“Central has been very good to us and gave us opportunities we only dreamed about,” says C.J. “If we hadn’t come to Central, we probably wouldn’t have met and been able to enjoy such good, professional careers. We’re in a position now to give back to the University that gave so much to us.”
C.J. urges alumni to take a moment to realize how they got to where they are today and find the way to leave a legacy for the next generation.
“If you can commit to an annual gift based on a wonderful experience with a specific program, then when you’re in a position to make a bequest, the transition becomes that much easier,” he says.