WIUM Tristates Public Radio

New Job for Former WIU President Jack Thomas

Feb 7, 2020

Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio announced it hired Dr. Jack Thomas to serve as the ninth president in school history. Central State is a public, historically black university with an enrollment of 2,100.

Thomas stepped down as Western’s president at the end of June, 2019, ending an eight-year presidency marred by employee layoffs, declining student enrollment, and increasing tensions between the administration and faculty.

Under terms of his negotiated departure with WIU, Thomas agreed to spend one year on paid administrative leave and one year on sabbatical.  Western agreed to pay his full $270,528 salary in each of those years.

He then had the option of returning to the classroom as a professor of English.

A university spokesperson told TSPR that Western’s legal counsel is reviewing the terms of the deal to determine the school’s future obligations to Thomas now that he has accepted another job.

Thomas came to Western in January 2008 to serve as provost.  His previous job was at Middle Tennessee State University – Murfreesboro, where he served as senior vice provost for academic affairs, interim dean of the College of Continuing Education and Distance Learning, and professor of English.

WIU Presidency Still Vacant

Western hired Dr. Martin Abraham of Youngstown State University to serve as provost beginning July 1, 2019. But Abraham was appointed acting president when Thomas stepped down.

Dr. Martin Abraham (right) speaking with reporters in January, 2020.
Credit Rich Egger

The Board of Trustees voted in early October to name Abraham interim president.

But in December the BoT declined to remove the word “interim” from Abraham’s title. The board deadlocked 4-4 on a motion to name Abraham president.

Trustees then voted 8-0 to form a 23 member committee to conduct a national search for Western’s next president. The committee will include members from both the Macomb and Quad Cities campuses. It will be allowed to spend up to $250,000.

The search could take 12 to 18 months.

Trustees encouraged Abraham to apply.