By Jeff Murphy, May 21, 2020
WARRENSBURG, MO – After an internal search, the College of Education is pleased to announce that Dr. Matt Thomas will become the new chair for the School of Teaching and Learning. Thomas brings a wealth of experience to the role of school chair with more than 20 years of experience in the College of Education and nearly a decade of experience in K-12 teaching, administration, and consulting prior to joining UCM in 2000.
As a former department chair of Educational Foundations and Leadership in COE, Thomas currently serves as a program coordinator for two graduate programs. He is a full professor who continues to enjoy teaching, and engages in robust research and scholarship.
“In his presentation, Dr. Thomas spoke of a renewed sense of excitement, particularly with the College’s strategic plan, VISION 2020. Having worked closely with him during the 18-month planning process, I know that he also has a wealth of historical knowledge, is thoughtfully engaging, and in the truest sense is a servant leader that supports student learning and growth as well as faculty mentorship. We are fortunate to have Dr. Thomas in our college and leading the School of Teaching and Learning as we start this new decade,” said, Dr. Robert Lee, dean of the College of Education.
“I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to work with the outstanding students, faculty, programs, and partnerships associated with the School of Teaching and Learning. While these are unusual times, and we have ensuing challenges to work through, I am confident that we can and will do so together. Our fundamentals are strong, particularly considering that we are all about the noble purpose of helping to prepare great teachers for the next generation of students. In this regard, the future is bright, and it truly is an honor to get to help with this” Thomas noted as he discussed his transition to the school chair position.
“Dr. Thomas refers to our school with the word ‘we’ rather than the word ‘I’ – he made it clear that as chair, he was not coming in to take over, but to support us. His vision is not just about ‘surviving’ – it is about thriving,” said Dr. Dawna Lisa Butterfield, chair of the search committee.
Other colleagues noted, Thomas is “…principled and ethical in both thought and deed” and that “he is proactive, scheduling three semesters in advance and adjusting schedules closer to the start dates based on collaborations with the chair and faculty, and data based on student needs.” These qualities demonstrate mature judgment, balancing priorities, and retaining a student-focused approach.
Thomas graduated from The Master’s College in Santa Clarita, California with a Bachelor of Arts in English; Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology with an Master of Arts in Education; and from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with an Interdisciplinary Ph.D., with Education as coordinating discipline and Urban Leadership and Policy Studies as a co-discipline.
He officially begins his appointment on July 1, 2020.