About Dr. Jack Thomas

Dr. Jack Thomas, a highly experienced and esteemed academic professional, proudly calls Calhoun a quaint town nestled in the historic Lowndes County, Alabama, his hometown. This charming locale lies between the iconic cities of Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. He has embarked on a rich and diverse career within the educational sector, where his profound knowledge, unwavering dedication, and unyielding commitment to fostering academic growth have consistently shone through. Rooted in his hard work, professionalism, wisdom, and integrity virtues, he continues to be a driving force for positive change within educational institutions.

Academic Achievements and Roles

His academic journey is a testament to his unwavering emphasis on hard work and professionalism. Holding 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 consummate professional in higher education.

His diverse academic roles are a testament to his versatility and unwavering commitment. Whether serving as an English Professor or assuming the mantle of College President, his leadership consistently reflects an unparalleled commitment. He has harnessed his profound knowledge, tireless work ethic, and an unshakeable dedication to integrity in each role.

Leadership Role at Western Illinois University

One of Dr. Jack Thomas's most distinguished achievements is his tenure as President of Western Illinois University (WIU). His leadership at WIU is a true embodiment of his virtues of wisdom and professional integrity. Confronted with unprecedented state fiscal challenges, he managed a budget nearing $224 million. Despite these formidable obstacles, he presided over remarkable accomplishments, including promoting diversity, establishing new academic programs, and enhancing relationships with corporate, community, and K-12 stakeholders.

His wisdom shone brightly during his tenure, particularly in navigating fiscal and cash flow issues amidst Illinois' financial crisis. During this period, he also witnessed the establishment of a new WIU campus in Moline, Illinois, and attaining multi-million dollar capital campaign goals. Under his visionary leadership, WIU earned prestigious distinctions such as being rated a 'Best in the Midwest College' by the Princeton Review and being recognized as a top-tier Midwest Master's institution by U.S. News and World Report. His exceptional leadership at WIU paints a vivid portrait of a man wholeheartedly committed to professional excellence.

Service on Distinguished Boards and Committees

Beyond his illustrious academic career, Dr. Thomas has rendered invaluable service on several distinguished boards and committees, consistently bringing his extensive experience, profound wisdom, and unyielding integrity to the forefront. His steadfast commitment to service is exemplified through his pivotal roles on the Marguerite Casey Foundation Board of Directors, the Stillman College Board of Trustees, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Board of Directors, and the American Council on Education Council of Fellows. These notable contributions paint him as a dedicated and unwavering professional committed to fostering growth and advancement in higher education.

Recognition for Research and Advocacy

Dr. Jack Thomas's dedication to research and advocacy has garnered him acclaim from both academic circles and beyond. His impactful research on black males in literature has positioned him as a revered scholar. His published work, including the influential "Within These Gates" and his ongoing project, "Leading Through Crisis," underscore his unwavering commitment to promoting academic excellence and diversity.

This commitment to diversity and inclusivity unequivocally aligns with his professional integrity and core values. His recognition from esteemed entities like Minority Access Inc. and others for his transformative mentorship programs benefiting minorities is a testament to his enduring commitment to hard work, wisdom, and integrity.

Awards and Honors

He has received numerous accolades and distinctions for his exceptional academic contributions and unwavering dedication to servant leadership. These include the prestigious 'Distinguished Alumni Award' from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the esteemed title of 'Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2023.' Furthermore, his tireless community service efforts have earned him many 'Community Service Awards,' underscoring the seamless integration of his work with his generous way of life.

In conclusion, the life and achievements of Dr. Jack Thomas epitomize a man of unwavering integrity, relentless work ethic, steadfast professionalism, and profound wisdom. His tireless service to the academic community and his firm commitment to advancing and diversifying higher education make him a luminous beacon in his field.

Dr. Jack Thomas | College President


Dr. Jack Thomas