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About Dr. Thomas

Dr. Jack Thomas is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in higher education administration with extensive senior-level management experience. He has held senior executive positions with various institutions across the United States including, Department Chair, Dean, Executive Vice President, Provost, and President. Dr. Thomas’ expertise includes comprehensive budgeting, managerial, marketing, and fundraising activities. Currently, Dr. Thomas is a Senior Fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and serves as a University Administrator at Western Illinois University. Dr. Thomas served as President of Western Illinois University (WIU) for nearly a decade. As President, he successfully managed a budget of nearly $224 million during unprecedented state fiscal challenges for public higher education. He led approximately 2,100 employees and nearly 9,000 students and served as the primary spokesperson for the Institution. Additionally, he provided leadership by serving on various boards and worked to cultivate relationships and partnerships with government officials, stakeholders, donors, and corporations.


Under Dr. Thomas’ leadership at Western Illinois University, the Institution constructed a new campus in Moline, Illinois and exceeded a $60 million capital campaign goal. Previously, Dr. Thomas served as WIU’s Provost and Academic Vice President. Prior to his tenure at WIU, he served as Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Interim Dean at Middle Tennessee State University. He has also served in various capacities at other universities including Interim President, Executive Vice President, Associate Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Executive Assistant to the President, and Chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages.


Dr. Thomas serves or has served on several distinguished boards including the Marguerite Casey Foundation Board of Directors; the Illinois Board of Higher Education; the Stillman College Board of Trustees; the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education Board; the American Council on Education Council of Fellows; the NCAA Presidential Forum; the Illinois Campus Compact Board; the Macomb Area Economic Development Corporation Executive Board; the Heart of Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross Board; and the Rutherford County YMCA Board. Nationally, Dr. Thomas graduated from the Harvard Leadership Program, served as an American Council on Education Fellow was a Kellogg-NAFEO Fellow, participated in the Salzburg Seminar in Salzburg, Austria, and participated in Leadership Middle Tennessee. He has also served as the chair of the NCAA Accelerating Academic Success Program (AASP) Selection Committee. He served as the Chairperson of the (AASCU) Christa McAuliffe Award Presidential Selection, and as a committee member of the Middle States Visitation Team. Dr. Thomas earned a Ph.D. in English (Literature and Criticism) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Master of English Education from Virginia State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Alabama A & M University. He is a noted scholar and lecturer appearing as a keynote speaker presenting his research and inspirational messages locally, nationally, and internationally. He has numerous publications and professional presentations including "Seize The Moment"  his popular spiritual morning devotions.


Dr. Thomas' current body of work includes research on public institutions that have had to make difficult programmatic and personnel decisions due to decreased state financial support and decreases in enrollment. His most recent publication is a book titled, Within These Gates: Academic Work, Academic Leadership, University Life, and the Presidency.

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