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Chancellor Gary Thomas Announces Plans to Retire as UM-Rolla Chancellor in 2005

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John Fougere

Chief Communications Officer

University Relations

Sep 01, 2004

Chancellor Gary Thomas Announces Plans to Retire as UM-Rolla Chancellor in 2005

ROLLA, Mo. – Dr. Gary Thomas announced today that he will retire as chancellor of the University of Missouri-Rolla in September 2005.

“When I arrived at UMR in the fall of 2000, I planned to devote five years to help the campus improve its standing among the nation’s best technological universities,” Thomas said. “I believe much has been accomplished over the past four years and more progress needs to take place in the future to assure that UMR takes its rightful place as one of the best technological universities in the nation.”

“Chancellor Thomas’ experienced leadership and expertise have served Missouri’s technological university extremely well,” University of Missouri President Elson S. Floyd said.

Floyd noted that under Thomas’s leadership, UMR has experienced strong enrollment growth, increased graduation rates by 15 percent during the past four years, doubled externally funded research expenditures, increased donations to the campus, broadened academic offerings, and increased the number of African-Americans to earn engineering degrees from UMR. Thomas also helped secure the two largest private gifts in UMR’s history and initiated construction of two new buildings scheduled to open later this year, all during a time of unprecedented state budget cuts to higher education.

“The University of Missouri-Rolla is a stronger institution as a result of the improvements Gary has made,” Floyd said. “I will continue to value Gary’s wise counsel during his last year as chancellor.”

“Gary Thomas was the right leader at the right time for UMR,” said Zebulun Nash of Houston, Texas, president of the MSM-UMR Alumni Association and site manager for ExxonMobil’s Baytown ( Texas) Chemical Plant. ““From the alumni association’s standpoint, Chancellor Thomas has done yeoman’s work to strengthen relations between alumni and the university. He has done a tremendous job of changing the culture and the environment on campus, all for the better, and is to be commended for addressing systemic issues that have needed to be addressed for a long time.”

Ron Miller of Sapphire, N.C., president of the UMR Board of Trustees, said, “Gary Thomas has been an outstanding leader for the University of Missouri-Rolla. He and his leadership team have initiated many necessary changes to help get the university on track toward becoming one of the nation’s leading technological universities. It’s regrettable that Gary has decided to leave UMR at the end of his five-year commitment, but I respect his decision and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Thomas was appointed chancellor of the UM-Rolla campus in July 2000 by then University of Missouri President Manuel T. Pacheco. Thomas, 67, came to the University of Missouri from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, where he had served as provost and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Before working at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Thomas served in several academic and administrative posts at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Thomas also served on several prestigious boards in such capacities as chair for the Public Service Electric & Gas Research Advisory Committee, chair of the Board of Directors of the Transportation Research Consortium, and chair of the Board of Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research & Education Corp, among many others.

Floyd announced that he would consult with faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of UM-Rolla before appointing a search committee in the coming weeks to begin a nationwide search for Thomas’ successor.

Chancellor Thomas’ biography and a photo can be found at the following Web address: http://www.umsystem.edu/ums/news/releases/thomasbio.shtml