College of Arts and Sciences

President Thomas Addresses Sigma Tau Delta

Written by Arielle Henry, Public Relations Officer, Sigma Tau Delta, Phi Delta Chapter

STD President Thomas

What better motivation is there for an English major than a pep talk from the University President himself?

On the evening of Tuesday, October 25, 2016, approximately 30 members of Sigma Tau Delta and English faculty had the honor of a special address by Western Illinois University President Jack Thomas in the Knoblauch Dining Room.

Audience members learned that not only did President Thomas earn three degrees in English, but he is also a proud member of Sigma Tau Delta. It was very inspiring to hear his compelling story about how he overcame the voices of those who doubted him and his desire to study English. President Thomas was a first-generation college student whose childhood consisted of working on his parents’ farm in a small town in Alabama. After his positive experience in High School learning from his favorite English teacher, he was set and determined to become an English High School teacher as well. President Thomas went on to earn a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. in English, and before coming to Western, he served in many academic positions such as a full professor of English, a Director of a University Writing Center, and a Chair of an English Department.

As President Thomas reflected on his past, he credited many of his accomplishments to his love for the field of English, and he singled out Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and William Faulkner as three authors he enjoyed studying in graduate school. President Thomas took questions from the crowd, and inspired undergraduate and graduate English students alike to do their best and make the most of their opportunities at Western!