TACOMA – After a distinguished career in higher education spanning 34 years, University of Puget Sound President Ron Thomas announced today that he plans to complete his tenure as president of the independent, national liberal arts college at the conclusion of the 2015–16 academic year.
Widely recognized as an insightful scholar, masterful writer, and skilled administrator, Thomas assumed his responsibilities as Puget Sound’s 13th president on July 16, 2003. He will leave Puget Sound following the successful implementation of a decade-long strategic plan and conclusion of the single most successful fundraising campaign in the university’s history, raising more than $127 million for endowment, capital projects, and annual operating funds to support students and faculty.
An inspirational and indefatigable leader, Thomas has brought Puget Sound to the fore as a leading national liberal arts college and is known both for national leadership (in governing roles for the American Council on Education, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Annapolis Group, and National Collegiate Athletic Association, among others) and building strong ties between the college and Tacoma, including the recently introduced Tacoma Public Schools Commitment, which meets the full demonstrated financial need of graduates of Tacoma public high schools.
“Puget Sound has achieved new heights in admission, academic achievement, retention, and fundraising in every year of Ron’s presidency,” said Richard M. Brooks, a Class of 1982 alumnus and chair of the Puget Sound board of trustees in a message to students, faculty, and staff. “By every measure, Ron is among the most dynamic, successful, and beloved presidents in Puget Sound’s history.”
Key achievements during Thomas’s tenure to date include leading the university in development of a master plan that has strengthened the cohesiveness of the campus and facilitated tremendous growth in the sciences; positioning the university as a national leader in liberal arts education and developing a stronger partnership between the college and Tacoma/Pierce County; and overseeing a soon-to-be completed fundraising campaign exceeding $125 million that has increased endowment for financial aid and supported the development of a state-of-the-art science center, a new center for health sciences, a new academic residential learning center, and an athletics and aquatics center scheduled for completion in 2016. President Thomas is first and foremost passionate about Puget Sound’s students, who fondly refer to him as “Ron Thom.”
In a message earlier today to students, faculty, and staff, Thomas said it is “a right and natural time for a leadership transition,” adding “I love this university, and I love this job. I deeply value working with and on behalf of all of you every day. I can honestly say the last 12 years have been the most meaningful and fulfilling of my life. I am so very proud of all that we have accomplished together to advance this extraordinary institution and to build this amazing community of people.”
Thomas and his wife, Mary Thomas, have developed deep ties in Tacoma, where Mary has served on boards for the local YWCA, Northwest Sinfonietta, Museum of Glass, and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.
A national search for University of Puget Sound’s 14th president will commence this summer under the leadership of Robert C. Pohlad, parent of 2007 Puget Sound graduate Chris Pohlad and chair-elect of the Puget Sound board of trustees.