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Get to Know Dr. Anita Thomas, The First Black Woman President of North Central College in its 162-Year History

| How Africa News


Dr. Anita Thomas is the first woman and the first black person in North Central College’s 162-year history to serve as President. She will be a professor of psychology in the institution’s College of Arts and Sciences as a result of her election.

Her appointment follows a months-long nationwide search in which she was overwhelmingly chosen by North Central College’s Board of Trustees, students, alumni, faculty, and staff. In July, she will become the 11th President of the college.

“Having the opportunity to become part of this extraordinary institution is truly a great joy and honor. North Central is preparing our next generation of leaders and – in partnership with faculty, students, staff, the board, alumni, and the Naperville community – I am honored, humbled, and ready to lead the College in the next phase of its storied history,” said Dr. Thomas, according to Because of Them We Can.

Prior to her election, she was the executive vice president and provost of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the country’s major private women’s universities.

She is recognized with carrying out St. Catherine’s academic master plan and establishing the Office of Intercultural Engagement and Social Justice in order to improve cultural fluency and global awareness. She was in charge of student relations and professional development in addition to her duties as Vice President and Provost.

Thomas was the founding dean of the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences at the University of Indianapolis before transferring to St. Catherine in 2019. She was in charge of academic programs in psychology, social work, mental health counseling, and art therapy. She also advocated for racial inclusiveness and social justice on campus.

“A college campus is the best place to address diversity and equity issues, a place to ‘unify diversity.’ As educators and lifelong learners, we have an opportunity to encourage diverse voices and leadership that will enhance the campus and serve as a model for students as they advance beyond college, bringing about more diverse perspectives around the table,” Thomas explained.

She also worked for Loyola University in Chicago for ten years in a variety of roles, including graduate program director for counseling psychology and later associate dean for academic affairs and research in the School of Education. She previously worked at Northeastern Illinois University as an associate professor and department chair for counselor education.

Thomas grew raised in a household of educators, where the value and importance of education were valued above all else. The native of Louisville holds a doctorate in counseling psychology from Loyola University in Chicago. She has a master’s degree in community counseling from Loyola and a bachelor’s degree in education and social policy from Northwestern University.

According to Because of Them We Can, she is recognized for her scholarly work on racial socialization in Black families, stereotypes in roles surrounding Black women and girls, and the development of critical consciousness and resilience education.

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