Dr. Joseph Thomas '54 - 1994 A Award Recipient

Bio from 1994

Dr. Joseph Calvin Thomas brings a distinguished record of achievement in higher education.  Long ago a young Hoosier came to Asbury seeking to be trained as a teacher.  We recognize one whose life’s work gives witness to that dream fulfilled.  Five key areas of life—all beginning with the letter “C”—highlight those accomplishments.    

We start with career, a lifelong journey of four decades in education.  He first caught Dr. Z.T. Johnson’s attention as an honor graduate who, as president, immediately hired him to teach in the science department.  Seven years later—with teaching experience both at Asbury and Jessamine County High School and a doctorate in education from the University of Kentucky—a southern college in Florence, Alabama offered him a classroom and lab as assistant professor of science.  For more than thirty years Dr. Joseph Thomas has demonstrated excellence both as a professor and administrator at that university:

  • Professor of Chemistry, Physical Science and Education
  • Chair, Department of Science
  • Associate Dean and then College Dean of Arts and Science
  • Dean of the Faculty and the Vice President for Academic Affairs and University Provost

Robert Potts, president of the University of North Alabama, tells why this man is his chief academic officer, Dr. Thomas is an “extremely positive role model for anyone aspiring to be a superb teacher and administrator…”  Listen to a brief excerpt from this resume in which is named his leadership positions—the Alabama Academy of Science, American Chemical Society, National Science Teachers Association, Alabama Commission on Higher Education, and on-site visitor for the South Association of Colleges and Schools.

Community—the place where volunteer hours turn into days and months.  Consider these places where leadership or shall we say his witness had been shared:

  • Rotary Club  
  • United Way    
  • American Red Cross     
  • YMCA of Northwest Alabama     
  • Mental Health Association      
  • Chamber of Commerce      
  • Boy Scouts of America       

Dr. Joseph Thomas, reared in a Methodist parsonage, has demonstrated excellence as a servant-leader in the church.  A vision for ministry placed him in almost every leadership position at the Florence First United Methodist Church.  We applaud his service to his alma mater.

The fourth “C”—this College—has not been ignored this man’s whirlwind tour of years.   He is a  second generation Asburian and a son of a Methodist preacher from the class of 1919. He has served as a faculty member, on the Alumni Board of Directors , as a President of the Alumni Association, and as a  parent of a 1984 graduate . His has also been active in the North Alabama alumni region.

This final “C” is found in Family Circle.  His wife, once a college faculty member herself, and his daughter are both Asbury graduates.  How ironic that, as the chief academic officer of a university under pressure to be politically correct, he has struggled with university policy regulating standards for faculty dating their students.  This alum, as a former faculty member, expressed relief that such a policy did not prevail at Asbury when he courted Elizabeth Johnson, a Wilmore “townie” and science student under his tutelage.

It is indeed a privilege to honor Joseph Calvin Thomas, foremost an Asburian and an Olympian of the class of 1954 with this distinguished Alumni Award.

Other 1994 A Award Recipients

Mrs. Janice Fraser '64 Biddulph

Dr. David Brabon '69