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Update 11:57 p.m. on Feb. 8

Jessica Lozada, a communications officer for the university told the Sagebrush that they are aware of the allegations.

“We take such claims seriously, and it is standard practice for the University to review and investigate, which we are currently in the process of doing,” Lozada said via email.

Original Story:

Dozens of academic research papers from Erick Jones, dean of the College of Engineering, have circulated online that are “so bad, you can’t believe it.”

This comes after a blog post was published by Andrew Gelman, a statistics and political science professor at Columbia University, who commented on the “empty jargon” present in the studies.

The main paper in question by Gelman is titled “Using Science to Minimize Sleep Deprivation that may reduce Train Accidents,” listing Jones as one of the four authors and was published in the International Supply Chain Technology Journal in 2022. Many red flags were raised by Gelman and subsequently the academic community on X, formerly known as Twitter: the paper consisted of only one page, two paragraphs and no citations and the peer review process took only 15 days.

Jones was hired as dean of the College of Engineering in 2022 and previously served as the senior science advisor in the Office of the Chief Economist at the U.S. State Department and was a former professor and the associate dean for Graduate Studies at the College of Engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington.

Upon the publication of Gelman’s article, many took to X to further investigate the claims, calling Jones an “academic fraud”. Internet sleuths pointed out ISCTJ has two websites: one of which lists him as Editor-in-Chief, while the other lists his son Erick Jones Jr. as a board member. 

In a response to The Nevada Sagebrush, Gelman stated he denies Jones is a fraud or is involved in anything fraudulent, he is just “baffled” at the situation.

“I have no idea what is going on. This is one of the most bizarre academic stories I’ve ever hear[d],” said Gelman in a response to the Sagebrush. “Just to be clear, I’m not saying there is any fraud here.”

Gelman is unaware of what requirements a dean’s position at the University of Nevada, Reno or the College of Engineering’s research qualifications are, if any.  

“What disturbed me is that some of his papers are so bad that it’s incomprehensible to me how they could be associated with a dean of engineering at a flagship state university, or a dean of engineering anywhere,” Gelman told The Sagebrush. “I was not saying that Dr. Jones’s research has not been sufficient for his job.”

Additionally, the majority of Jones’s publications per his Google Scholar have been through ISCTJ and the content raises the same alarms as the original article in question: little substance in the paper and a short turnaround time. Even further investigation pointed out Jones publishing almost identical articles in two separate issues of ISCTJ with the same authors, but separate review and publication dates. 

Allegations of plagiarism have also surfaced, one X user saying Jones “took an existing published paper, added his name to it, and proceeded to republish the exact same article 3 more times.” 

In another example, a commenter on the blog post cited an article titled “Working Towards Sustainable Net Neutral Critical Mineral Supply Chains” with seven sentences that was authored by five people, including Jones.

“What’s amazing is that any of the five listed authors of this paper must have had the ability to write something at least half coherent on the topic … But they couldn’t even be bothered to do that, ” Gelman commented in reply to this user. “The whole thing is just so damn weird.” 

Screenshot from the ISCTJ website

Jones replied to the allegations in the comment section of Gelman’s blog post claiming Gelman’s assessment of the work was “unjust”; he said he “gave up” being editor of the journal a “few years back,” but is still the initial founder and editor of the publication, as well as an investor.

“The journal is peer reviewed and it was designed initially for more American supply chain practitioners, researchers and undergraduate students in applied application labs to publish with faculty, from internships and class papers on applied engineering activities that are related to supply chain technologies,” said Jones. 

Furthermore, Jones admonished Gelman for his “crucifixion” and “hatchet job”, stating he does not use the work published in ISCTJ on his resume and has several textbooks and articles “more accepted” in the field.

Gelman further stood his ground in a comment back to Jones, his criticism directed towards UNR administration and not UNR faculty, or the university as a whole. 

“It is a criticism of some aspect of the UNR administration in which the dean of engineering is running a journal that is publishing junk papers by himself and others,” said Gelman in his response. “If I were a student I would not be happy that this is where my tuition is going.”

Jones responded to The Sagebrush with a revised version of his original comment he posted in response to the blog. 

UNR officials were reached out to for comment, but The Sagebrush did not receive an immediate response.

Correction as of Feb. 7 at 11:30 p.m.: Erick Jones was not listed as an editorial board member, but rather his son Erick Jones Jr.

This is a developing story please check back for updates.

Emerson Drewes and Jaedyn Young can be reached via email at or or on X @NevadaSagebrush. 


  • notgonnatellya says:

    I’m friends with someone who used to work in that college. Apparently he has turned the engineering college into one of the most toxic workplaces on campus with more than a dozen admin staff leaving the past year. He burned through 5 assistants already. As usual the president and provost are ignoring any complaints made to HR which means they’re ok with people getting hurt.

  • flybutter says:

    Please sign the petition:
    We have more than a 100 votes already.

  • Henry says:

    The Sagebrush’s February 8, 2024 article entitled “UNR Dean of Engineering’s Questionable Research Papers Arise,” is shocking but not particularly surprising given the overall failures of this president’s administration. The president and the provost’s quotes in the February 6th article from Columbia University entitled “It’s bezzle time: The Dean of Engineering at the University of Nevada gets paid $372,127 a year and wrote a paper that’s so bad, you can’t believe it,” are especially damning and show a real lack of competent leadership on North Virginia Street. Dean Jones was a reach by the administration who could not or would not hire top candidates. In turn, the Jones was brought to the campus in the Summer of 2022 and a deal was reached without proper oversight and vetting. Although Dean Jones’ actions, if true, are reprehensible, the administration ultimately bears responsibility and should be held equally accountable.

    Jones is just another sad chapter for this administration. Given that the president was grossly unqualified to guide an institution of higher education and has approached his role much like his prior political positions – more concerned about his quasi-celebrity image and standing. In turn, he has surrounded himself with cronies rather substantive and qualified individuals, included, among the inner circle, is Andrew Clinger. An individual chased out of his role with the City of Reno for numerous sexual harassment claims that cost the city significantly to settle. Of course, the president raced into to hire him to work in his administration as Governor and, thereafter, used his influence to have the regents hire him. Now, Clinger replaces longtime controller, Vic Redding. Standard operating procedure by the administration that values loyalists rather than individuals who are qualified and of good character.

    To this end, The Sagebrush should be commended for having the editorial integrity to publish an un-sanitized and transparent look at the realities of the campus at Lake Tahoe in its November 1, 2023 article entitled “UNR at Lake Tahoe Campus See Zero Enroll During Fall ’23 Semester.” Not being able to comprehend the administration’s infatuation with Sierra Nevada University (SNU), I followed this acquisition out of morbid curiosity for a lack of better description.

    The recent courtship SNU is not the first time UNR flirted with acquiring this campus. Years ago, a prior administration spent months analyzing a potential acquisition and ultimately determined it was not economically practical. What changed for this administration to become so enamored with having a footprint in Incline Village? With the advantage of having 20 months of hindsight, it will be difficult, if not, impossible to defend this transaction.

    In the summer of 2021, with a newly minted administration in place, the UNR Foundation (UNRF) appears to have been approached about an offer to own the assets comprising SNU at Incline Village. UNRF, according to its website, is a separate and distinct 501(c)(3) charitable entity that accepts cash and non-cash gifts for the benefit of the university. The latter presumably is held for some finite period of time, sold, expenses paid and the balance of the proceeds applied toward the donor’s wishes; if one is stated.

    SNU’s donors (which I am guessing are its board of directors, although that is not entirely clear) demanded that the assets comprising SNU be held or owned by the UNRF indefinitely, rather than by NSHE. Per my research, this appears to be the first time any building or real estate in the NSHE system has been owned by an institutional foundation. In turn, UNRF was also placed in the position of being a long-term landlord by leasing these assets back to NSHE for a nominal fee of $1.00/year for the benefit of UNR, which is not a separate legal entity but rather a dba by which NSHE does business like the other state institutions of higher education in Nevada.

    Upon reviewing the UNRF’s minutes and public meeting recordings from the summer of 2021 through the summer of 2022, one can easily see that the president was the moving force behind this transaction believing it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” Specifically, UNRF was told that the transaction would be transformative for UNR and without liability to UNRF, that Lake Tahoe was critical for the university’s growth and the Lake Tahoe campus would continue to be a standalone four-year institution that compliments the Reno campus (although, this business model now appears to have shifted toward some sort of study abroad for UNR students). Moreover, if UNRF failed to act, SNU donors threatened, albeit probably a veiled threat at best, to transfer the assets to UC Davis, which currently occupies approximately 50% of the science building at SNU for its marine biology program. In reality, if UC Davis wanted to acquire the entire SNU campus, it had ample opportunity to do so over the years. Evidently, such an operation is not appealing to it.

    Interestingly enough, UNRF was advised, without explanation, that the donors would not allow NSHE to own the assets. The donors would only consummate the transaction if the assets were transferred to UNRF. However, if UC Davis was the acquiring party, the donors had no similar requirement and would allow the UC Regents, rather than the UC Davis Foundation to own the assets. In the end, UNRF approved the acquisition and subsequent lease agreement by what appears to be a majority vote.

    Now, comes the economics. SNU was a private institution charging $40,000/year in tuition. It had approximately 150 students and those that remain, as you note, are referred to as the “legacy students.” Once the legacy students are gone and with no UNR students enrolling, then what? SNU was only a viable business entity due to the generosity of its donors, who provided the necessary ongoing funding.

    As an extension of UNR, the Lake Tahoe campus charges the same fees as UNR. Out-of-state residents paying $20,000 annually while in-state students pay the per credit rate. Stated more concisely, if SNU was not a self-sustaining entity or one whose revenues did not exceed its expenses, then its public incarnation is in dire financial crisis with substantially less revenues with more expenses. Among these costs are various insurance policies put in place and paid by UNR to try and mitigate liability to UNRF, which appears to be an area of some concern during UNRF’s due diligence. Additionally, SNU had more than $5 million in deferred maintenance and ADA non-compliance issues; including no central air conditioning. In the summertime, the school simply opens its windows, which is not an option during wildfire season. The library is an extension of the Washoe County Library system (i.e., open to the public). SNU was marketed (as set forth on its website and in its materials) to the residents of Incline Village like a community college to take advantage of, most notably, its art facilities. As a Lake Tahoe resident, I took advantage of these opportunities without being a student per se.

    The earlier dalliance with Lake Tahoe was prudently declined by a prior administration. The Lake Tahoe campus is an unnecessary fiscal encumbrance on UNR. Nevertheless, this administration felt the acquisition was strategically important for the university. Obviously, a feeling not shared by the UNR student body who you correctly pointed out are not interested in incurring the additional costs of doing a semester at Lake Tahoe.

    When the administration openly states that it has sizeable headwinds with COLA mandated by the legislature, as well as budget reductions, where will the funding come from to keep the Lake Tahoe campus functioning? Why was this transaction executed? Financially it makes no sense and the enrollment figures bear this out…I understand that less than 25 legacy students remain and no UNR students have enrolled.

    Lake Tahoe is without question the gem of the Sierras. That’s why I live here. UNR is attractive to many students and faculty, in part, due to its location. Lake Tahoe will always be a short drive away for students interested in skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, or being on the lake. SNU’s acquisition had no bearing on this. The lake, not the campus is the draw. Absent a donor or donors coming to the rescue with a substantial infusion of cash (which would undoubtedly provide only a temporary reprieve), exponentially increasing enrollment and/or leasing the facilities out for conferences and other events, will be a costly mistake for the administration. One that I can say as a former CEO of a public company would never have been tolerated in the private sector and certainly not without significant consequences. Given that the donors were clearly looking to unload the economic burdens of keeping SNU afloat, it would have been more prudent to donate the venue to Incline Village for use as a library and community center or other civic-based functions. Unfortunately, I would guess that the administration will stubbornly defend the acquisition for no other reason than politics to save face for the president. Any potential resolution or consideration of divesting of these assets will probably not occur until there is a change in the administration or regents, who should hold the administration accountable. In the interim, the limited resources of UNR and UNRF will be adversely impacted when those funds could be redirected to more pressing needs to improve the quality of the education and student life in Reno. Unfortunately, SNU and the damage caused by Dean Jones will have repercussions for the school. As a donor, I am not interested in continuing my support until there is a change in the administration.

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