Not long before Robert Mizell departed this life, another great Emory alumnus came fortunately to the attention of Robert Woodruff. He was Boisfeuillet Jones. A 1934 graduate of Emory College and 1937 graduate of Emory Law, Bo, as he was called (for BO-fuh-lay), became the assistant to Emory president Goodrich White in 1946 and quickly rose to become vice president of the University.
In 1952, as Woodruff grew increasingly troubled by the continuing budget deficits in the Emory School of Medicine — deficits that he had pledged to cover, often for more than a quarter million dollars annually — he invited President White to develop a sound business plan for the school. White turned to Boisefuillet Jones. The plan Jones developed called for bringing the schools of medicine, nursing, and dentistry, as well as the hospitals, under the umbrella of a medical center. He also suggested establishing the Emory Clinic as a way for faculty-physicians to earn their living while helping to fund the medical school.
Woodruff bought into the plan, and the Emily and Ernest Woodruff Foundation gave $5 million toward its development, including $4 million for endowment and $1 million for construction. The subsequent growth of the clinical, research, and teaching enterprise of the health sciences center is a direct result of the synergy that came from this arrangement.
The success of the plan also captured the attention of the incoming administration of President Kennedy, and in 1961 Jones took leave from Emory to serve as special assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.
Jones later told of being introduced at a press conference by Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law to President Kennedy and later director of the Peace Corps. Fluent in French, Shriver pronounced Bo’s first name in French — BWAH-fooh-yay. A reporter covering the announcement misheard the name and printed it the next morning as “Waffle A. Jones”–maybe all right for a guy from the state where Waffle House was born.
Expecting to be gone only two years, Jones stayed on after Kennedy’s assassination to help smooth the transition for President Johnson, but in 1964 Jones returned to Atlanta as president of the Emily and Ernest Woodruff Foundation.
Like Robert Mizell, Boisfeuillet Jones developed a warm relationship with Woodruff that flourished in part through humor but depended also on frankness, integrity, and trust. When the president of the Coca-Cola Company, Paul Austin, appointed Jones as a consultant to the company, Jones sent a handwritten note to Woodruff: “I’m sure the Chairman of the Finance Committee [Woodruff] has no influence in these matters. Nevertheless, my appreciation to him is just as real and deep as if he did.”
It was during Boisfeuillet Jones’s presidency of the Emily and Ernest Woodruff Fund that George and Robert Woodruff decided to donate the corpus of that fund to Emory – all $105 million. In 1984, when Emory needed space for admissions, financial aid, and other student services, Woodruff agreed to pay for the new building and expressed an interest in having it named for Jones.
Next up — the third wise man.