By Robert Vickers
Central State University
WILBERFORCE, OHIO – Dr. Jack Thomas, an internationally recognized scholar and higher education administrator, has been named Central State University’s ninth president.
Dr. Thomas said he was drawn to Central State because of its history and potential.
“As I learned about Central State University, I felt that this was a very special institution and one where I could contribute the most to its future success,” he said. “This has been a long, yet rewarding process, and I thank you for selecting me as your next president.”
His appointment was praised by Mark Hatcher, Esq., chairman of the Central State board of trustees.
“Dr. Thomas was selected after the completion of a rigorous national search that included members of our faculty, students, alumni, donors and community and corporate leaders,” Hatcher said. “Dr. Thomas was selected based on his proven ability to lead and grow institutions of higher learning with a focus on improving academics, student-oriented career preparation and institutional fundraising.”
Thomas, who will succeed Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond in July, comes from Western Illinois University, a public university where he served as president for nearly a decade. At WIU, he successfully managed a budget of nearly $224 million during a period of unprecedented fiscal challenges.
Additionally he increased diversity, created new academic programs, managed fiscal and cash flow issues brought on by the state’s financial crisis, invested in STEM programs, increased funding for scholarships, and established a presidential institute to foster and improve corporate, community and K-12 relations.
Under Dr. Thomas’ leadership, WIU was recognized as a “Best in the Midwest College” by the Princeton Review and as a top tier Midwest Universities Master’s institution by U.S. News and World Report.
During a new conference last week, Thomas called on CSU to deliver on its promise.
“As a university, we must be winners in all that we do,” said Thomas, who holds degrees from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Virginia State and Alabama A&M universities. “We must win in the region. We must win in the state. We must win nationally and internationally. We must think big, dream big and achieve our goals as a university.”
Dr. Jackson-Hammond praised Thomas on his ability to build on CSU’s momentum.
“Central State University continues to progress and is among the region’s best institutions of higher education,” she said. “The University offers more than academic quality assurances. It supports families and communities that want to achieve an enhanced quality of life. Dr. Thomas will ensure that Central State University’s trajectory is focused and ambitious. We welcome Dr. Thomas and his family and will support his vision 100%!”
A native of Lowndes County, Alabama, Thomas began his career as an English instructor from 1984 to 1990 at Johnson C. Smith and South Carolina State universities.
From 1990 until 2004, he served in several roles at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, including interim president, executive vice president and associate vice president for academic and student affairs. During his time in Maryland, he enhanced fundraising, implemented new academic programs and drove increased enrollment.
From 2004 until 2008, he served as senior vice provost for academic affairs and interim dean at Middle Tennessee State University.
A published researcher with a focus on Black males in literature, Thomas is scheduled to begin his CSU tenure July 1.
Central State University was named 2017 HBCU of the Year by HBCU Digest.