Dr. Jack Thomas brings experience and great insight from just about every aspect of academia. From his position of English professor and department chair to dean of students and his current role of President of Central State University in Ohio, Dr. Thomas has spent his entire career in HBCUs and institutions of higher learning.
The son of farmworkers in Alabama, Dr. Thomas has followed his mother’s dream of him pursuing a great education. He also mentors other Black students and teaches them to go after their dreams. Dr. Thomas spoke to us about his position at CSU, the pandemic, and more in our recent interview.
Tell us a little about yourself and your position at Central State University.
Education played an important part early in my life. My parents worked on the farms in Alabama and my mother always impressed up me to strive for a better academic life and making a difference. I earned a Ph.D. in English and have held the title of presidency at Western Illinois University for nearly a decade. Today I am proud to say that I am now the 9th President of Central State University.
How has the pandemic impacted Central State University?
Well, I began my career at Central State University in the midst of a global pandemic and I have tried to lead through innovation, as my team and I are committed to excel in this “new normal.” We have worked hard to establish nine strategic priorities with the overarching themes of increasing the quality of academic excellence, strengthening, and developing regional and national corporate partnerships, and focusing on the students’ centric engagement. We have committed to setting the tone as to how we are going to think, operate, and lead because Higher Education is at a critical point in this era as we define the new normal. There is no place like Central State, and the University, and CSU Family is persevering through the pandemic. We have evolved the teaching and learning techniques to enhance the learning experience for the students. The institution has effectively transmitted the classroom settings and has integrated hybrid and online courses in its curriculum.
How has your engagement been with the student body?
We have launched a campus-wide mentoring program with my cabinet for incoming freshmen. I have been recognized as one of the top educators using social media to communicate, and I do it via my account, @studentpres, to regularly connect with the student body through encouragement and real talk. We also have virtual tutoring and mentoring services, which has increased student engagement.
What else would like to share about Central State University?
Central State University is Ohio’s only public HBCU and is focused on student success with an amazing 13:1 student to teacher ratio. We take pride in graduating students who become leaders and servants at home and abroad. We have increased our focus on strengthening corporate partnerships by establishing an HBCU Center of Excellence under the Division of Institutional Advancement that focuses on outreach, research and development for student placement and talent pipeline development. Partners include Nationwide, Proctor and Gamble, Dominion Energy, and JP Morgan Chase.
To get involved with Central State University online, receive the latest news and updates at the school’s website. You can also engage via their social media channels including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Featured Image provided by Central University