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Thomas University announces new president

Thomas University announced today that Dr. James A. Sheppard will be its new president.

“The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that James A. Sheppard, provost at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, has accepted the position as president of Thomas University effective July 1, 2016,” said John L. Glenn, Jr., Chair of the TU Board of Trustees. “Dr. Sheppard was interviewed by the presidential search committee and members of the Thomasville community as well as Thomas University faculty, staff and students.”

As provost at Southwestern College, Sheppard has led major changes in educational offerings, including securing accreditation for its first doctoral program, instituting an English as a Second Language program for international students and reforming general education to follow the Association of American Colleges & Universities’ best practices. He also led the establishment of international partnerships in Singapore, Scotland and China in addition to creating a Center for Belarusian Studies, which has received funding from the Orsa-Romano Foundation and the German Marshall Fund. In his role as provost at Southwestern College, Sheppard has overseen both the traditional age student population and the professional studies programs. Under his leadership, graduation rates increased by 40 percent.

“I am absolutely thrilled and deeply honored,” Sheppard said. “I think President Bonvillian, the Board of Trustees, the community, the faculty, staff and students have built an amazing community, and I’m just so honored to be a part of it.”

For Sheppard, the work already in progress at Thomas University interested him.

“There are many good things at TU that attracted me,” Sheppard said. “TU’s desire to reach and build a traditional campus environment is really exciting. The international work that’s happening is also very exciting. These are areas that are very much in my wheelhouse.”

Sheppard holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas; a master’s degree in Historical Theology from Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado; and a doctorate in the History of Philosophy from the University of Sheffield in England.

Glenn said, “As chairman of the Board of Trustees, I want to thank Perry Mustian, CEO of Archbold Medical Center, and the entire search committee for their dedicated effort. We received over 60 applications for the position and are delighted that Dr. Sheppard will be joining us.”

Sheppard will replace Dr. Gary Bonvillian, who will retire June 30 after a decade as president of Thomas University.

“Thomas University has benefitted tremendously from the 10 years that Dr. Bonvillian has been our president, and we look forward to the continued growth under Dr. Sheppard’s leadership,” Glenn said.

Sheppard will be joined by his spouse, Dr. Beth Sheppard, who has been serving as the Director of the Duke University Divinity School Library.

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