Dr. Jack Thomas Takes the Helm as 9th President of Central State University

WILBERFORCE, OH – Dr. Jack Thomas, an accomplished scholar and administrator, has taken office as the 9th president of Central State University (CSU) today.

His arrival was praised by Mark Hatcher, chairman of the Central State Board of Trustees, which named Dr. Thomas president Feb. 7, following a comprehensive nationwide executive search.

“We are looking forward to working with you and your vision and leadership at this fine institution,” Hatcher said.

A native of Lowndes County, Ala., Dr. Thomas holds a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master’s of English Education from Virginia State University, and a bachelor’s of English from Alabama A&M University.

Dr. Thomas served as the president of Western Illinois University (WIU) for nearly a decade and comes to Central State with a track record that underscores his ability to implement a comprehensive vision and strategy.

Prior to WIU, Dr. Thomas had a 20-year career where he emerged as a nationally and internationally recognized leader in higher education administration with extensive senior-level management experience from department chair, dean, provost to the presidency.

Dr. Thomas’ influence on the academic community extends to his service on several local and national boards, and he currently serves on the Marguerite Casey Foundation Board of Directors.

“Rest assured, I am committed to maintaining the high-quality education and the family environment for which Central State University is known,” he said in a video posted today on the university website and on social media.

Dr. Thomas also pledged to immediately host a series of dialogues with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community stakeholders.

“My goal in the sessions will be to meet many of you, gain valuable insight and share our initial plans,” he said.

When introduced as Central State’s new president in February, Dr. Thomas identified nine presidential priorities that will guide his tenure. They are to:

1. Continue to meet and enhance the 1890 Land Grant mission
2. Increase enrollment (globally and in diversity)
3. Improve retention and graduation rates
4. Develop marketing and rebranding campaign
5. Launch a multimillion-dollar capital campaign
6. Develop an Honors College to recruit high-achieving students
7. Increase degree offerings, graduate studies, and flexibility in course delivery
8. Build a new learning and living environment
9. Update university strategic and master plans

Dr. Thomas succeeds Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, who finished her tenure yesterday after leading the university for eight years.

Dr. Thomas looks forward to building on the great tradition and legacy of CSU.

“My wife Dr. Linda Thomas and I are eager to get to know all of the wonderful people in the CSU family as we begin this new journey,” he said.


Central State University, located in Wilberforce, Ohio, is a regionally accredited 1890 Land-Grant University with a 133-year tradition of preparing students from diverse backgrounds and experiences for leadership, research and service. The university, which was named 2017 HBCU of the Year by HBCU Digest, fosters academic excellence within a nurturing environment and provides a strong liberal arts foundation and STEM-Ag curriculum leading to professional careers and advanced studies globally.

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