Central State University in Wilberforce has installed Jack Thomas, Ph.D., as its ninth president. His selection was announced in February following a nationwide search and his tenure begins July 1.
Thomas, originally from Alabama, comes to CSU from Western Illinois University where he served as president for almost a decade. He holds a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master's from Virginia State, and a bachelor's from Alabama A&M.
He takes over from Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, Ed.D., who held the position for eight years. During her tenure, CSU in 2017 was named HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) of the Year by HBCU Digest. In May, she was named president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a position she begins in August.
"I am committed to maintaining the high-quality education and the family environment for which Central State University is known," he says in an online video posted.
Thomas is jumping right in by holding sessions with students, faculty, staff, stakeholders and alumni.
"My goal in the sessions will be to meet many of you, gain valuable insight and share our initial plans," he says.
He identified nine priorities in February he says will guide his tenure:
- Continue to meet and enhance the 1890 Land Grant mission
- Increase enrollment (globally and in diversity)
- Improve retention and graduation rates
- Develop a marketing and rebranding campaign
- Launch a multimillion-dollar capital campaign
- Develop an Honors College to recruit high-achieving students
- Increase degree offerings, graduate studies, and flexibility in course delivery
- Build a new learning and living environment
- Update university strategic and master plans