The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South president steps down, takes early retirement

By Shelly Williams/editor-in-chief

Ernest Thomas has stepped down as South Campus president effective April 29.

Ernest Thomas

Thomas said he would take the college’s voluntary separation plan, but he will take personal leave from his position until the retirement plan takes effect Aug. 31.

Vice chancellor of student success Joy Gates-Black is serving as interim president until a permanent person is chosen, vice chancellor of administration Bill Lace said.

TCC will post the opening online, and the search for a new president will start within a couple of weeks.

“I chose the option to retire because it will give me many options to explore other interests that I have in regards to my professional development and growth,” Thomas said from his home May 2.

Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley and Gates-Black went to South Campus April 29 to meet with administrators about the change and then with more than 100 faculty and staff, South humanities dean Judith Gallagher said.

“It was well-handled. They were positive and respectful, answering questions as best they could,” she said. “While we were surprised, everyone wishes Dr. Thomas well.”

South faculty president and assistant government/history professor Brian Johnson said he too was surprised about Thomas’ retirement.

“I was a thousand miles away, and I’m getting all these rumors …” he said. “I think everybody was surprised. Some were shocked. I expected him to be here much longer. I’ve worked with Dr. Thomas for a year now, and he’s always been open and willing to listen to faculty. All I can say is we wish him the best wherever he’s off to.”

Gallagher said when a change in leadership occurs, one can only look forward and make sure the students are cared for and business continues as usual.

That’s what Gates-Black hopes to do. She said her position as interim president will take effect immediately and will take on all of Thomas’ graduation responsibilities since he will not be returning to the college.

“As the interim president, I look forward to getting to know all of the faculty and staff and continuing the great work undertaken by Dr. Thomas to continue moving the campus forward,” Gates-Black said.

Gates-Black will step back slightly from her duties with the Achieving the Dream program. Vice chancellor of academic affairs and ATD co-head David Wells will take more of a lead for the program while she serves as president.

Thomas, who has been a part of TCC as well as president since 1998, said he’s enjoyed being president of South Campus.

“I sincerely hope that I have given the college as much as I have received,” he said.

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