Former WIU President at the center of internal investigations in Ohio

WILBERFORCE, Ohio (WGEM) – Central State University’s legal counsel and secretary of the board of trustees issued two statements Friday related to an internal investigation by President Dr. Jack Thomas off.

Thomas, who was named President of Central State University on July 1, 2020, resigned as President of Western Illinois University at Macomb in June 2019. Thomas was appointed Provost at WIU in January 2008; He took office as President in July 2011.

Dayton, Ohio television station WHIO reported that five women claimed Thomas created a “toxic work culture” that included discrimination, defamation, demotion and fear of retaliation.

“The investigation (at Central State) is ongoing and to protect the integrity of this investigation, all communications regarding this matter are being directed through my office and the university will not be publicly commenting at this time,” Laura Wilson wrote. State Attorney and Secretary to the Board of Trustees.

Wilson shared a statement by email from Central State University Board of Trustees Chairman Mark Hatcher, which read: “The Board of Trustees has every confidence in President Jack Thomas and his vision for the university. His goals are ambitious and we have been pleased with the speed and quality of his progress in achieving those goals. In fact, in many cases he not only achieved his goals, but even exceeded them.

“At a time when enrollment at HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) nationwide was down 11%, Central State was down just 7%. Under the tenure of Dr. Thomas, enrollment is more than 5,300, the highest in decades. This includes online enrollment, which has grown from 28 students in 2020 to more than 3,500 today. And campus enrollment has remained steady at about 1,800 students despite the drop in enrollments at colleges across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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“In addition, Dr. Thomas has made significant strides in raising funds and raising the profile of the university both in Ohio and nationally in just over two years.”

Wilson wrote that the Central State Board “is committed to ensuring the excellence and integrity of Central State University on behalf of its staff and its students and their families.”

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees approved a $900,000 settlement agreement and Thomas’ general release in August 2019.

“On behalf of the Western Illinois University Board of Trustees, I would like to thank Dr. Jack Thomas for his outstanding service to Western Illinois University as President and as Provost and Academic Vice President,” said Greg Aguilar, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “President Thomas was dedicated and committed to serving our students. He has mentored countless students and positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands. Once again, we would like to thank President Thomas for the leadership he has provided.”

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