Magazine On-line [summer 2007]
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Advice to Travelers


Family and friends watched from the bright spring lawn as Transylvania awarded 238 bachelor of arts degrees on the steps of Old Morrison on May 26.

David A. Jones, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Humana Inc. and a member of the Transylvania Board of Trustees, delivered the commencement address to the joyous crowd. Drawing on his life story, Jones spoke about the characteristics necessary for success: “Integrity, teamwork, clarity of purpose, high expectations, and clear communication.” He added that optimism is vital to these traits, and reminded the graduates that even when things look bleak, “The sun will shine tomorrow.”

A well-known Louisville entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader, Jones told the graduates, “You’re going to expand and put to exciting uses the base of knowledge and understanding developed here. You will undertake the necessary and often difficult tasks required of you and earn the joy of accomplishment.”

Jones read from the Walker Gibson poem Advice to Travelers and urged the graduates to consider, “Who are you and where are you going?,” a question this class had already begun to answer.

Sixty-five percent of this graduating class studied abroad while at Transy, including Mark A. Rouse, a history major from Lexington, who spoke on behalf of the students.

Rouse asked his classmates to look to the future rather than cling to the past. “We can build on our experiences from the past, but if we dwell on them we will not be able to experience life to the fullest,” he said.

Before leaving his class with congratulations, he offered this advice: “Whatever you do in your life, love it.”

During the commencement ceremony, Jones was presented with the President’s Award in recognition of extraordinary contributions of service and financial support to Transylvania.

Jones is a founding member of the Bingham Board of Trust, which oversees the University’s Bingham Awards for Excellence in Teaching Program. With his wife, Betty, he created the David and Betty Jones Fund for Faculty Development. He and his family have supported virtually every major Transylvania initiative over the years, including the William T. Young Scholars program and the William T. Young Campus Center.

In 1981, Jones was awarded an honorary degree by Transylvania, and he received the Transylvania Medal in 1994 for his friendship and outstanding service in promoting the interests of the University.

Jones joined with friend and law firm colleague Wendell Cherry and four other investors to open Heritage House, a Louisville nursing home, in 1962. Over the next three decades, Jones and Cherry moved the company, which took the name Humana in 1974, from the nursing home business to become the nation’s largest hospital company, then one of its major health insurance providers. Jones stepped down from the CEO role in 1997 and retired as chairman in 2005.

Jones is one of Louisville’s most active philanthropists and civic leaders. The Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theater of Louisville is a premiere national event for showcasing new theatrical talent, and Jones has been a board member of such organizations as the Greater Louisville Fund for the Arts and the Kentucky Center for the Arts. In 2004, he received the Milner Award from the Governor’s Awards in the Arts program for his commitment to the arts in Kentucky. He and his family recently made a major commitment of time and resources to the City of Parks, a long-term project to expand and connect Louisville’s extensive parks system.

Three members of the graduating class share their plans for life after Transy.


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