Ivy League educator selected by board
SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
ATLANTA – The Morehouse College Board of Trustees voted Oct. 15 to name Dr. David A. Thomas as the 12th president of Morehouse College, ushering in a new era of leadership for the 150-year-old historically Black institution.
Thomas’ appointment ends a six-month period of leadership transition at Morehouse that began in April when the board announced its national search for a new Morehouse president to replace Dr. John Wilson, whose employment contract was not renewed.
Wilson was temporarily replaced by college Chief Operating Officer William Taggart, who unexpectedly died in June 2017 shortly after assuming the interim position. Taggart was replaced by Board of Trustees member Harold Martin, Jr., who will serve until Thomas takes over next year.
The only one
Morehouse is the world’s only HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) for men. It has produced four Rhodes Scholars, several college presidents, and leaders in many other fields.
According to the National Science Foundation, Morehouse is the nation’s top producer of Black males who continue their education and receive doctorates.
The National Science Foundation also ranked Morehouse as the No. 1 producer of Black men who receive doctorates in education, life and physical sciences, math and computer sciences, psychology and social sciences, as well as humanities and the arts.
Morehouse currently has more than 17,000 alumni representing more than 40 states and 14 countries. U.S. News & World Report also consistently ranks Morehouse as one of the nation’s top five HBCUs.
The school’s Presidential Search Committee, assisted by Issacson Miller recruiters, reviewed the profiles of more than 100 executives for the role, including several sitting college presidents.
Women also considered
“We were searching for the right leader to set the stage for another 150 years of success at Morehouse,” said Presidential Search Committee Chair Dale Jones.
“We vetted many candidates, including outstanding women. What we found in Dr. Thomas was a commitment to excellence and invaluable experience. He’s an exceptional leader and the right individual to lead Morehouse into the future.”
Currently, Thomas is the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the former Dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
According to a press release from the college, Thomas was chosen as the top candidate because of “his visionary leadership as a business school administrator and his proven track record in fundraising,” which includes a capital campaign that raised more than $130 million in five years for Georgetown McDonough.
Thomas has 30 years of higher education experience. He holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior Studies and a Master of Philosophy in Organizational Behavior degree, both from Yale University. He also has a Master of Organizational Psychology degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Administrative Sciences degree from Yale College.
“Dr. Thomas is a nationally respected business educator and visionary leader with a support network that will bring transformative change to Morehouse College,” said Willie Woods, chairman of the Board of Trustees.
“Having David at Morehouse will raise the profile of our world-class institution and lead to partnerships that will allow Morehouse to be more competitive for top students, expand our academic programs, improve our facilities, and provide more signature opportunities for leadership that make Morehouse Men among the most sought-after graduates in the country.”
No financial aid
According to Thomas, “Morehouse was actually where I wanted to go to college from the time I was 10. I got into Morehouse, but I didn’t receive any financial aid. My second-choice school did offer a scholarship, so I enrolled there, but always with a yearning to be at Morehouse.
“As the son of working-class parents who did not attend college, I understand the transformative power of higher education for people of color. I also understand what it means to be a Black male in America, and the determination and strength of character that it takes to be successful. I will work tirelessly to help raise the scholarship funds necessary so that no deserving student who wants a Morehouse education is left behind.”
Thomas is planning to launch a major capital campaign to increase funds for student scholarships, among other needs. He will also focus on making Morehouse a premier institution for research on the Black experience, and will work to expand Morehouse’s international outreach, including in its student recruitment and hiring practices.
Thomas will be the first Morehouse president in 50 years who did not graduate from the college. The last president who was not an alumnus was Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, Morehouse’s revered sixth president who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King graduated with Morehouse’s Class of 1948.
“I think the entire Morehouse family will be very excited about the appointment of President-Elect Thomas,” said Dr. Robert M. Franklin, President-Emeritus.
“David is deeply committed to educating African-American men and to innovative approaches to higher education. He has spent his entire career from Yale to Harvard Business School to Georgetown University preparing for this opportunity.
“He appreciates the signal honor of being selected as the first non-alumnus Morehouse president since Dr. Benjamin Mays, and we stand ready to support and serve with him.”