Shirley Greenwood Jones

Art Kanehara, SLC, Utah

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Shirley Greenwood Jones recently retired after 25 years as an academic, teaching Communication and Writing in colleges and universities in three states.
She is now experiencing what she calls “Act Three” of her life: her first love—writing.

Acts One and Two were eventful, and exciting (in the extreme), but she saved the best for last. She’s placed academic writing into the background and changed her focus to writing for “real” life and pleasure.

Her first book is finished re. her time in academia—getting a Ph. D. and using it. (Please see Kirkus review—Survival in Postmodern Academia). She’s finishing up a fun project on the art of raising challenging children, based on her experience. Have you ever heard of anyone having to sew her child’s zipper closed each morning to keep her from serial nakedness, wherever and whenever she fancied throughout the day?

Her next project examines five significant, revealing, and fascinating rhetorical events in the life of Mormon Prophet Brigham Young. In a piece of foot-noted, fully referenced, nonfiction, she reveals human qualities ”Brother Brigham” displayed. She did her Ph. D. dissertation on Young’s rhetoric, and always planned to use his life and words to reveal some most-often overlooked aspects of his character. He is one of the most important figures in the history of the American West, and definitely one of the most interesting. In her view, his humanity hasn’t yet come across in what has thus far been written about him.

She was a professional expert “talking head” in a PBS documentary about the life of Brigham Young filmed at the University of Utah. The film was directed by award-winning Ken Verdoia, who told Greenwood Jones that he learned more about Brigham Young from her dissertation than from any historians’ biographies.



BY Shirley Greenwood Jones

In her first book, author Greenwood Jones chronicles her professorial adventures as an unconventional academic.

Greenwood Jones didn’t receive her Ph.D. until she was nearly 50 years old and found herself vying for work in a hypercompetitive environment oversaturated with qualified candidates. After getting married and adopting a child, Greenwood Jones put getting a doctorate on hold and devoted herself to family, high school teaching, and a bottomless enthusiasm for tennis. She finally recommitted herself to academic work and encountered a slew of challenges: age discrimination, sexism (even at her beloved alma mater), and a job market built around the exploitation of adjunct lecturers. She also encountered infinitely picayune intramural disputes fueled by ego—especially at the hands of one of her mentors. Greenwood Jones sharply observes the shifting intellectual environment of higher education—she skewers its political correctness, the increasing insularity of academic research, and its faddishness, as well as its excessive obeisance to programmatic Marxism. The author spent the main of her career working for community colleges, but far from being resentful of professional marginalization, she recognizes some of the intellectual advantages of that fate: “True, I’ve spent most of my career ‘only’ on the community college level, but I’ve loved it; even preferred it; finding satisfaction in preparing students for universities, teaching useful basics rather than Marxist mumbo jumbo.” In fact, one wishes that Greenwood Jones devoted more of the book to these assessments; it doubles as a memoir and a critique of the modern American academy. Greenwood Jones finally found a tenure-track job in California—she spent some years marooned in Pennsylvania, apart from her family—and spent the last 20 years teaching there, in a peculiar state of professional fulfillment and estrangement. Her prose is refreshingly anecdotal, avoiding the turbid vernacular of collegiate communication. The uniqueness of Greenwood Jones’ place in campus culture (she’s a self-professed Mormon Democrat) permits the perch of both the insider and outsider, and the result is a remembrance brimming with common sense, and even wisdom.

A critical, sensible, charming view of modern academic life.

Pub Date:

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2016

Awards, Press & Interests

Favorite author

Ann Tyler

Favorite book

Anna Karinenna

Day job


Favorite word


Unexpected skill or talent

People seem to look to me for leadership. When I decide to lead, everyone in my sphere appears to enjoy following.

Passion in life

Communication across cultures from neighborhoods to nations