Dr. Anita Thomas is the first woman and the first black person to serve as President of North Central College in its 162-year history. As a result of her election, she will hold the faculty rank of professor of psychology in the institution’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Her selection comes after a months-long national search, where she was unanimously elected by the North Central College’s Board of Trustees, students, alumni, faculty, and staff. She will assume office as the 11th President of the college in July.
“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 served as the executive vice president and provost at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the largest private women’s universities in the United States.
She is credited with implementing St. Catherine’s master plan on academics and the opening of the Office of Intercultural Engagement and Social Justice in a bid to increase cultural fluency and global awareness. Aside from her duties as Vice President and Provost, she was also in charge of student affairs and career development.
Before moving to St. Catherine in 2019, Thomas worked at the University of Indianapolis as the founding dean of the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences. In her role, she provided oversight for academic programs in psychology, social work, mental health counseling, and art therapy. She also used her time on campus to champion racial inclusion and social justice.
“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 served for 10 years at Loyola University, Chicago, in various positions, including the graduate program director for counseling psychology, and later associate dean for academic affairs and research in the School of Education. Before Loyola, she was associate professor and department chair for counselor education at Northeastern Illinois University.
Thomas grew up in a family of educators where the value and importance of education superseded literally everything. The Louisville native has a doctorate degree in counseling psychology from Loyola University, Chicago. She specialized in family therapy and multicultural counseling, and also has a master’s degree in community counseling from Loyola, and a bachelor’s degree in education and social policy from Northwestern University.
She is renowned for her scholarly work on racial socialization in Black families, stereotypes in roles surrounding Black women and girls, and the creation of critical consciousness and resilience pedagogy, according to Because of Them We Can.