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Lowndes County native named WIU president

Western Illinois University President Emeritus Al Goldfarb (left) and WIU Board of Trustees Chair Michael Houston (right) present Dr. Jack Thomas with the official WIU presidential hood, medallion and cap during the Sept. 23 investiture ceremony. Thomas hails from Lowndes County, Ala. (COURTESY WIU VISUAL PRODUCTION CENTER)

Special to the Signal

MACOMB, IL — “Today, we observe the inauguration and founding of Western Illinois University. It is a day of celebration, a day of hope, and a day where we observe the past, the present and the future.”

Those are the words of new invested Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas of Lowndes County, as he addressed members of the board of trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, the University community and others at the 2011 Founders’ Day/Inaugural Celebration held Sept. 23 on the WIU-Macomb campus.

Thomas was invested as Western Illinois University’s 11th president during the annual Founders’ Day celebration. He was named president in January 2011 and began his duties July 1.

“I especially want to thank my wife, Linda, and our sons, Patrick and Darius I am very excited that my father is here today, Mr. Clinton Thomas Sr., and my sister, the Honorable Mayor Helenor Thomas Bell (of Hayneville) and all of my other family members and friends who have traveled a great distance to be here today,” said Thomas.

He continued, “I want to dedicate this address in honor of my mother, who is the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and could not be with us today. I also want to acknowledge my dear brother, Mr. Marshall Clifford Thomas, who is not here because he had to stay home to be by my mother’s bedside. I want to dedicate this address in honor of my oldest living relative, Ms. Susie Jones, who was born in 1899, the same year as the founding of Western Illinois University. She is noted as the oldest woman living in the state of New York and has recently turned 112 years old.

“This is a very humbling experience, and I am honored to have been chosen as the 11th president of Western Illinois University,” he said.

Thomas earned his Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, his master’s degree from Virginia State University and his bachelor’s degree from Alabama A & M University.