Central State University—a historically Black institution in Wilberforce, Ohio—will announce its next permanent president Friday.
The person will replace Dr. Alex Johnson, President Emeritus of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), who has been serving as interim president since July 2023, after Dr. Jack Thomas announced that he would not seek a renewal of his contract.
But eight months after Thomas’ departure, some Central State students, faculty, administrators, and community and political leaders are still demanding answers from the school’s board of trustees about the circumstances surrounding what appears to be a forced ouster of Thomas, who by most accounts, dramatically turned the public Land-grant university around in just three short years.
They cite a flawed “investigation” that forced Thomas—a seasoned college administrator—to spend the final months of his presidency defending himself against baseless and unsubstantiated allegations that he harassed and intimidated five current and former Central State female employees. An outside law firm hired by the university’s board of trustees ultimately concluded that there was “no evidence to support a finding of discrimination, including but not limited to, terminations and/or demotions; and use of FMLA.”
Thomas has denied harassing, belittling, and bullying anyone.
In a letter sent to the campus community in May 2023, Thomas—who served as president of Western Illinois University and held leadership posts at Middle Tennessee State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and South Carolina State University—said that he would take an educational sabbatical and return to the university next year as a tenured professor.