After a comprehensive search process, Southern Arkansas University proudly announces the appointment of Dr. Jerry W. Thomas as the new Southern Arkansas University Tech chancellor. With a proven track record of leadership and dedication to higher education for the past 29 years, Thomas assumes this pivotal role effective January 10, 2024.
Bringing with him a rich background in academia and administration, Thomas steps into the role poised to lead SAU Tech into the future. His extensive experience in various areas of higher education promises to invigorate the SAU Tech mission of academic excellence and student success.
“We are extremely pleased that Dr. Thomas will be our new chancellor at SAU Tech,” said Dr. David Rankin, SAU president emeritus. “His impressive accomplishments and background have prepared him well for this outstanding leadership opportunity.”
Thomas is currently the vice president for academic affairs at National Park College in Hot Springs. Before beginning this academic role this past April, Thomas served as the vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at NPC since 2016. Under his leadership, NPC transitioned to a residential campus, experienced increased enrollment, and implemented an athletic program.
Thomas also served as the assistant vice president for student affairs at Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, New Jersey. During this time, he led the college’s learner support center, a one-stop enrollment service center, to national recognition for exemplary student service. Thomas’ higher education career was launched at Southern Arkansas University, where he served from 1993 to 2013 in various student affairs positions and as an adjunct history professor.
During his time at SAU, specific positions of notable interest for Thomas included serving as a peer counselor, peer tutor coordinator and later director of the TRIO Upward Bound program. This federally funded program provides fundamental support to participants in preparation for college entrance. The target population for the program is students who are primarily first-generation college-bound or from low-income families. Thomas has often highlighted that his participation in this program significantly contributed to his current success.
Along with his passion for engaging in student success initiatives and educational leadership experiences, Thomas has been active in civic and community engagement activities. He has served on non-profit boards in his community, including the Hot Springs Metro Partnership board, the YMCA, and the United Way of the Ouachitas. He is a trustee of the Roanoke Baptist Church in Hot Springs and past president of the Hot Springs, Arkadelphia, and Malvern alumni chapter of Kappa Psi Fraternity. Thomas is also a proud veteran of the U.S. Army.
“I’m incredibly excited to assume the role of chancellor at SAU Tech. I look forward to becoming a part of the SAU Tech community and building upon the ongoing success of expanding access and opportunities for students,” expressed Thomas. “My goal is to support them every step of the way as they pursue their educational journey. Education transformed my own life, and I’m deeply committed to ensuring that these opportunities are available to students who aspire to create better lives for themselves.”
Thomas’ extensive experience in higher education positions him to steer SAU Tech towards future achievements and advancements. The appointment of Thomas as chancellor marks an exciting new chapter for SAU Tech, reinforcing the institution’s commitment to academic distinction and student-centered growth.