Mississippi Valley State University has set its Martin Luther King Jr./Black History Month Convocation for Thursday, February 13 at 11 a.m. in the H.G. Carpenter Auditorium. This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Arthur E. Thomas, President Emeritus of Central State University (CSU).
The convocation's theme, “The Movement Forward” was adopted from the Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference.
Thomas, a native Philadelphian, has dedicated his entire adult life and career toward championing the cause of the poor, the oppressed, and the denied. He has, at great personal sacrifice, fought all forms of injustices at the local, state, and federal levels. A 1962 graduate of Central State University, Dr. Thomas is the first alumnus who returned to his alma mater to serve as its president. He was appointed as the university’s sixth president by CSU’s Board of Trustees and served from 1985 through 1995. He is now President Emeritus of the University.
As an undergraduate at CSU, Thomas majored in history and earned his Bachelor of Science in Education. He later earned his Master’s in Education from Miami University in Oxford, OH, and Doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Both graduate degrees focused on Education Administration.
Thomas served as a military policeman in the U.S. Army. After completing his military obligation, he was honorably discharged in 1962. He began his career in the Dayton, Ohio, public schools as a teacher, administrator and coach.
During his tenure as president of CSU, the University had a record enrollment of more than 3,200 students, developed a four-year undergraduate International Water Resources Management Program; solidified a four-year fully accredited Manufacturing Engineering Program; and established a Master’s in Education, an African Studies Program, a model Linguistics Program, an internationally renowned convocation series, an outstanding marching band and university choir, two football National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championships, eight women's NAIA track championships, two men's national track championship teams, and a gold medalist in the Olympics in the 400-meter hurdles. CSU's women's basketball team also won eight district basketball championships and participated in the national playoffs eight times. Even more notable is the $35 million that was received for new construction, renovations, and infrastructure improvements.
He received the Carter G. Woodson Award from the National Education Association as well as awards from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Drum Major for Freedom Award from SCLC/WOMEN (the women’s organization of SCLC), The Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the National Council of Negro Women and the C.J. McLin Jr. Award from the Black Elected Democrats of Ohio. He was honored by the Johnson Publishing Company as the recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Black Public Education Award, which was presented at the 13th Annual American Black Achievement Awards Program.