Baby on Campus

Young Owen, strapped onto his daddy’s or mommy’s chest, has been a happy, frequent sight on campus.Not many people can say that they started out in college before they graduated from high school—or even grade school—but one-year-old Owen Jones can, because he has lived at Saint Mary’s since birth.

Owen is the first child of Math Professor Chris Jones and his wife, Mary Volmer ’01 MFA ’05, a novelist, SMC instructor and former director of the Honors Program.

Since 2005, Jones has also been the resident director of Assumption Hall, the freshman honors and science dorm. He and Volmer have setup house in Assumption since 2007, and they never considered having it any other way. “The thought entered my head, ‘Are we crazy?’” said Jones, “but not in any serious way.”

Owen, who was born last October, has fit right into dorm life, attending soccer games, campus barbeques and math department events. “Strap him on and go,” laughed Volmer.

“Pretty much all the girls were excited about him,” Jones recalled. “If we came out and he was crying a little, all these little lemmings would appear; their heads would pop out of the door.”

During his tenure at Assumption, “Jonesy,” as he is affectionately known, has changed the residence hall into a distinct SMC subculture. Residents refer to themselves as “Assumptionites,” and members of the dorm speak fondly of their experience.

Former resident Jessica Hitchens ’10 said  Jones and the resident assistants “were really involved in our academics, and our lives, and our growth. It was just like being in a family, with Jonesy at the helm.”

The addition of Owen has only increased the sense of community. If residents “don’t feel comfortable talking to me as the random wife and professor, they might be able to speak to me as the mom of Owen,” said Volmer.

And the students can’t resist the lure of a baby in the dorm. “He would always be out in the hallway with Mary, playing, and all the students would come say ‘hi,’” recalled Sasha Worth ’15, who has known Owen since birth.

Over the years, residents have recognized both Jones and Volmer in ways that underscore their affection and admiration. When the couple announced their engagement in 2006, Assumptionites hosted a surprise party, and last year, Meagan Haliski ’11 and Cristin Seppa ’11 planned a surprise baby shower. They invited current and former Assumptionites through Facebook, and more than 70 people returned to honor the newest addition to the Assumption family.

“We wanted to celebrate that they are going to be such awesome parents, just as they were mentors to us,” Haliski said. “We wanted to congratulate them both for the next stage in their lives.” —Caitlin Graveson ’11, former Assumptionite