(WHTM) — John Jones was 19 years into a lifetime appointment as a federal judge when he decided on a different path: presidency at Dickinson College from which he graduated in 1977.

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“When do you have an opportunity to go back to your alma mater and serve as president of the place? It seemed like a great challenge and unparalleled opportunity,” Jones said.

Dickinson’s has 2,000 students and a $600 million endowment. Tuition is between $75,000 to $80,000. Money well spent says the new president.

“A Dickinson education will pay off. our alums get great jobs,” Jones said. “We produce leaders so there is a value to that education.”

If there is a perception that Dickinson is a school for the rich, white kids, Jones wants to change it. The school gives $60 million a year in scholarships, but he wants it to be $75 million. “That leads to greater diversity. I think we’re doing fine. Can we do better? Of course, we can,” added Jones.

Jones is no stranger to challenges. He failed a Republican candidate for Congress but was appointed by George W Bush to the bench. His two most significant rulings angered the GOP. He went against the Dover School District for treating Creationism under the label intelligent design.

“I don’t think it’s your right to make kids stupid and to teach them bad science and that’s really what it came down to in addition to the constitutional violation which was the overarching issue,” Jones said.

Jones also affirmed same-sex marriage. Conservative talk show hosts blasted him, but he insists it passes constitutional muster.

“I saw people queuing up in city hall in Philadelphia for same-sex marriage licenses and thought to myself ‘With a stroke of a pen I was able to accomplish that and for me, it was very satisfying,” Jones added.

Federal Judges make more than $200,000 but to leave a lifetime appointment must have taken a lot more. Jones won’t talk salary, but did say, “I’m appropriately compensated.”

It’s a two-year interim presidency, after which it will be reevaluated.

“If Dickinson remains the progressive robust world-class liberal arts institution that is has been throughout its 238-year history,” Jones said.