Professor William Kenneth "Kenny" Jones ’54
July 28, 2009
William Kenneth “Kenny” Jones ’54 was a member of the Columbia Law School faculty for 42 years. He passed away on July 28, 2009.
Jones was the valedictorian of Columbia College’s Class of 1952. At the Law School, he served as editor in chief of the Columbia Law Review before graduating in 1954.
After Law School, Jones clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark and worked in the Office of General Counsel for the Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. He then entered private practice as an associate at Jones, Day, Cockley and Reavis in Cleveland. In 1959, Jones joined the Law School faculty, focusing on antitrust law, contracts, defamation, regulated industries, and torts.
Throughout his tenure at the Law School, Jones remained actively involved in public service. He was an adviser to the Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, and Carter administrations. From 1970 to 1974, he served as the New York state public service commissioner.
In that position, he was responsible for regulating the gas, electric, telephone, and water utilities.
In 1977, Time magazine named Jones one of the top 10 law school professors in the country. He retired from the Columbia Law School faculty in 2001.
“What I remember of Kenny was his extraordinary integrity—a man of unflinching principle who never hesitated to put his strong views before us, often enough in isolation,” said Peter L. Strauss, the Betts Professor of Law. “And yet he was the colleague we invariably trusted to recall faculty history and practice, to count and report our secret ballots, and in so many other ways to represent our highest aspirations for ourselves.”
Barbara Aronstein Black ’55, George Welwood Murray Professor Emerita of Legal History, was a year behind Jones at the Law School and joined the Columbia Law Review when he was editor in chief.
“I was in awe of this brilliant young man,” Black said, “and well remember occasions on which a group of us would be sitting around the outer office, chewing over some knotty problem, unable quite to untangle it all. Then someone would yell, ‘Hey Kenny!’ and he’d come out of his office, listen to us, and give us an instant analysis, by which everything fell into place.”
Jones’ wife, Bunny, passed away in 2004. He is survived by three children
and five grandchildren.