Brent Thomas is new dean of College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

April 23, 2014

The new dean of Emporia State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is excited to explore new opportunities to collaborate for the benefit of the entire university.

Dr. Brent ThomasDr. R. Brent Thomas was named as the new dean today by Dr. David Cordle, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is truly the heart of the university, and the dean position in LA&S is one of ESU’s most important leadership roles,” said Cordle. “It’s gratifying that after a thorough national search, the best choice for the dean appointment turns out to be someone we already know and admire. Brent Thomas has demonstrated great leadership as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. He is now ready and fully prepared to build upon Marie Miller’s work as Emporia State’s arts & sciences dean.”

Said Thomas: “Our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has both a distinguished history and a very bright future. I look forward to working collaboratively to build upon our unique strengths and exploring new opportunities.”

Thomas, who will become dean on June 8, already has identified his first order of business — finding a new chair for the Department of Biological Sciences, the position Thomas has filled since December 2008, two years after he began teaching at Emporia State University.

During Thomas’ tenure as department chair, several notable accomplishments happened:

  • The department collaborated with the Emporia Recreation Center to create a summer biology/science camp for youths age 7 to 11;
  • A human cadaver laboratory was created; and
  • A new master’s degree in forensic science was established. Department faculty and university officials worked closely with the directors of all the major forensic crime labs in Kansas and the Kansas City metropolitan area to develop the curriculum and program requirements. The program gained approval from the Kansas Board of Regents last week.

For Thomas, these achievements for the Department of Biological Sciences are a model of great things that can happen throughout the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which includes 11 academic departments.

“The College’s strong reputation of providing students with opportunities to work side by side with outstanding faculty members both in and beyond the classroom is one of the characteristics that attracted me to Emporia State University,” Thomas said. “I believe that the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will play a critical role in the fulfillment of both the mission and the strategic vision of the larger university.

Thomas grew up in Denning, Ark. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology at University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark.; his master’s degree in biology from Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield; and his Ph.D. in biological sciences from Mississippi State University in Starkville. He taught for seven years at the University of South Carolina Upstate before joining the Emporia State faculty in 2006.

At Emporia State, Thomas serves on the Retention Action Team and is a faculty champion for the Biological Sciences Departmental Enhancement Fund and the men’s and women’s track and cross-county teams.

Thomas and his wife, Stephanie, live in Emporia with their two children, Allie and Nicholas.  Thomas has served on the site council of Village Elementary School and provided presentations on reptiles and amphibians to youth and civic groups. His hobbies include running slowly, camping and anything outdoors that involves wildlife.

Concluded Cordle: “Many thanks to Dr. Miller for her years of distinguished service, to Dr. Kathy Ermler and the search committee for conducting a highly effective recruitment and of course to Dr. Thomas himself for his willingness to take on this critically important role in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.”

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