"The opportunity to come back and make a difference at a university that's made a difference in my own life is simply remarkable," said Jones.
Jones graduated from HSU before getting a master's and law degree. Trustees say his role as vice chancellor and provost at Arkansas State University and experience with university budgets set him apart from the others.
Plus, he has vested interest in seeing the university succeed.
"It's very rare that a university gets to choose its own as president and we feel honored we did that today," said Bill Wright, chairman of the Board of Trustees.
A number of candidates traveled to Henderson State to interview and interact with faculty, staff, and students. Senior Tiffany Baker said Jones topped her list.
"Dr. Jones had phenomenal charisma. I loved how he was keen on keeping the administration accountable. He wants to hold everyone accountable," Baker said.
While he looks forward to moving the university to a new level, Jones said he can't do anything without listening.
"I want to listen to everyone from the groundskeeper to the faculty because I think all play in the life of this institution," said Jones.Jones will take over on July 1. He takes over for Bobby Jones, who's serving as interim president since the departure of Charles Welch last year.
Jones is the university's first black president.