While the IUP community awaits the arrival of our new president, Michael Driscoll, it seems an opportune time to check in with Jack Thomas D'90, the newest university president in the IUP alumni ranks.
Thomas is the new president of Western Illinois University and is six months into his term.
"My first year is going quite well in light of a very challenging economy," he told us.
His biggest obstacles, he noted, are those faced by presidents of many public universities: a decreased budget, declining state support, and deferred maintenance.
Thomas became president of WIU after serving as the university's provost, a position he took in 2008. Before joining WIU, Thomas served as senior vice provost for academic affairs and interim dean at Middle Tennessee State University.
His IUP degree is a Ph.D. in Literature and Criticism.
Thomas offered the following advice to the IUP community as Driscoll's arrival draws near:
"Approach his tenure with an open mind and give him all the support necessary for him to be successful as a university president. Give him an opportunity, and help him to learn the culture of IUP. Let him know that you are genuinely available to assist him. The community should champion transparency and openness on all issues that concern the new president."
Photo: Western Illinois University, Dr. Jack Thomas at his investiture as the university's 11th president.