This section sets the context for the approval review. It should clearly state the mission of the institution/agency. It should also describe the characteristics of the unit and identify and describe any branch campuses, off-campus sites, and distance learning programs for professional school personnel.
A. Thomas University/Division of Education
A.1. Describe the historical context of the institution or agency.
Thomas University is an independent, nonsectarian, regionally-accredited, comprehensive university, serving the post-secondary educational needs of Southwest Georgia and North Florida. For over fifty years, the college has successfully provided capable students the opportunity to pursue a rigorous post-secondary education.
The Primitive Baptist Church founded Thomas University as Birdwood Junior College in 1950 on the winter home property of Cameron Forbes, U.S. Ambassador to Japan. The first classes began in 1954 with seven students. In 1977, the college officials decided to convert the institution to Thomas County Community College. In 1979 the school became completely nonsectarian, private, and independent. In 1984, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) granted the college accreditation as a two-year Level I institution. In 1986, the college changed its name to Thomas College, and in 1990, SACS granted the college accreditation as a four-year, Level II College. In 1995 SACS reaffirmed Thomas College’s accreditation for the next ten years. In January 2000, the official name of the college was changed to Thomas University and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools approved Thomas University as a Level III institution to offer university level graduate degrees. The first graduate degree offered during the 1999-2000 academic year was the Master of Business Administration degree. The University now offers five master’s degrees, twenty bachelor degree programs, and two associate degrees. The University has three satellite campuses offering the RN-BSN program at regional hospitals, four satellite campuses offering the Master of Education programs, and one satellite campus offering all teacher preparation initial certification programs. In addition, we offer two bachelor’s programs at university partner locations in China. The University has partnerships with Southwest Georgia Technical College, Darton College, Tallahassee Community College, Bainbridge College, and the Boards of Education of Thomas, Decatur, and Grady counties in Georgia.
A.2. Describe the mission of the institution or agency.
Thomas University is the school of choice for students in undergraduate and graduate programs to prepare for successful careers and responsible leadership in a rapidly changing and complex world. The faculty and staff value a student’s individual strengths, capabilities, and will to succeed, provide the means by which he or she will achieve personal and professional transformation.
Thomas University will be a national leader in innovative teaching and interactive technology that engages students in creative problem solving for the Information Age.
Education that Engages…Empowers…TRANSFORMS
Thomas University values:
dynamic learning environments that engage students in their intellectual and personal
rigorous intellectual studies that require creativity, discipline, and personal
diversity and its use as a learning tool to teach that the world is a better place when
respect for the individual is central to our relationship with others;
community involvement, including cultural and artistic experiences, that enrich the
lives of our students, as well as their fellow citizens;
individual attention to all students;
a lifetime connection with our students.
A.3. Describe the characteristics of the institution or agency. [e.g., control (e.g., public or private) and type of institution/agency such as private, land grant, or HBI; location (e.g., urban, rural, or suburban area)]
Thomas University is a private four-year co-educational university that serves the post-secondary educational needs of south Georgia and north Florida. The university is located in Thomasville, Georgia, a relatively small town of just over 20,000 people in rural southwest Georgia. The town is 35 miles north of Tallahassee, Florida, 55 miles south of Albany, Georgia, and 45 miles west of Valdosta, Georgia. Thomas University, as an employer and educational provider, is vital to the educational, economic, cultural, and societal strength of the Thomasville community and Georgia’s rural southwestern region. Since its founding in 1950, the university has grown to an enrollment of 1150 undergraduate and graduate students.
Thomas University provides quality education through a dynamic learning environment. Innovative models for reaching learners by our caring faculty and staff change the lives of students in our local, regional, and global communities. Offering Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's degrees, our highest goal is to provide an educational experience that explores and develops each student's full potential. Most of our students are commuting adults who eventually become employed in the surrounding local area.
A.4. Describe the institution’s/agency’s service area to include regions/counties served and the demographics of the general population.
The majority of Education students at Thomas University commute from communities within the 14-county service area in Southwestern Georgia (Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Crisp, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole, Terrell, Thomas, and Worth). Southwest Georgia is the least populated region in Georgia and has historically been the poorest region of the state. Thomas University’s 14 county service area is comprised of many economically distressed and disadvantaged counties that is reflective of the high number of public schools classified as Title 1 schools (72 of 90).