The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


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Associate provost of Saginaw Valley State University interviews for provost position

Alexis Moore-Jones
Brian Thomas talking to Kelly Best before his interview as a candidate for the provost position. Doudna Fine Arts Center, Thursday Feb 1, 2024
Brian Thomas during his interview as a candidate for provost position, Thu Feb 1, 2024 (Alexis Moore-Jones)

The search for a new provost at Eastern continues as Associate Provost at Saginaw Valley State University Brian Thomas takes the stage for his open campus interview. 

Thomas is the third of four candidates interviewing for the position. 

The interview took place at 10:15 a.m. on Thursday in the Recital Hall of the Doudna Fine Arts Center. 

One main point Thomas touched on was that even though he won’t be able to interact with students like he used to, he will have more of an impact on them by falling back and working from the background as provost. 

“I could have more of an impact, I’ll say it this way, by handing the ball to somebody else. Rather than taking the shot, you are handing the ball to somebody else to take,” Thomas said. 

Although Thomas did not speak statistically about what changes or improvements he would make at Eastern if he got the provost position, he did speak on the background, values and experience he has that he can use to benefit the university. 

During his 19 years at Saginaw Valley, Thomas held positions like associate provost, associate vice president for academic affairs, director of strategic partnerships, sociology department chair, college transitions program coordinator and professor of sociology, to name a few.  

Regarding his core values, he focused on his adaptive leadership style while emphasizing the importance of context. 

“I think that if you’re not going to pay attention to what the situation is and adapt your leadership style to that, you’re at least, at the very least, limiting yourself,” said Thomas. 

He touched on other values such as respect, commitment, transparency, inclusivity and dedication to student success, which emerged as key aspects of his leadership approach.  

With full transparency, Thomas did not mention any problems with the university that he would focus on because he said he simply didn’t have enough information. 

However, turning the floor to the audience, he began offering solutions and ideas to the issues and problems brought up by audience members. 

Regarding the topic of attracting and retaining a diverse faculty, Thomas mentioned a leadership development program he orchestrated at Saginaw Valley that catered to training faculty members for specific opportunities that they would be best for. 

“If people want to move into higher-level positions, they need to understand that there needs to be some understanding of how a university operates and some training on interpersonal managements,” he said. 

“So, we wanted to train people, train diverse populations specifically, so that when opportunities arose, we have people that could move up,” Thomas said. 

The director of the Tarble Art Center Jennifer Seas asked Thomas to speak on the role of the arts at the university and in the community. 

He responded by articulating the cultural advantage Eastern gives to the city of Charleston through the arts. 

Director of Trio Student Support Services Maggie Burkhead asked what could be implemented at Eastern that would aid in student success. 

Thomas shared examples of efforts to improve student experiences, including mentoring programs, a multicultural student center, student success tracking software, internal and international partnerships, a first-year transition program and college transition initiatives. 

The next provost open interview will be for Denise Seabert on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 10:15 a.m. at Doudna Fine Arts Center in the Recital Hall. 


Alexis Moore-Jones can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 

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About the Contributor
Alexis Moore-Jones, Feature Reporter
Alexis Moore-Jones is a senior broadcast journalism major. This is her first year at The News.

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