Dr Jack ThomasDr. Jack Thomas, an internationally-recognized scholar and higher education administrator, was named Central State University’s 9th 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 Central State Board of Trustees Chairman Mark Hatcher, Esq.

“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.”

Dr. Thomas, who will succeed Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond in July, comes from Western Illinois University (WIU), 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 Friday’s news conference, Dr. Thomas called on CSU to deliver on its promise.

“As a university, we must be winners in all that we do,” said Dr. 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 Dr. Thomas 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 statement. “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 percent!”

A native of Lowndes County, Alabama, Dr. Thomas career began as an English instructor from 1984-1990 at Johnson C. Smith and South Carolina State universities.

From 1990 until 2004, Dr. Thomas 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. There, Dr. Thomas improved diversity, assisted with the design of new academic programs, coordinated the implementation of a new key assessment instrument, enhanced academic reviews and mentoring.

A published researcher with a focus on black males in literature, Dr. Thomas is scheduled to begin his CSU tenure July 1.


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