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A Historic Day for North Central College

President Anita Thomas is inaugurated.

Dr. Herman B. White Jr., President Anita Thomas, Dr. Holly Humphrey, '79, MD, and Dr. Kathy Birkett.

A Historic Day for North Central College

Dr. Anita Jones Thomas was installed as the 11th president of North Central College on Saturday, November 11, 2023. Students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, community members, and friends of the College attended the historic ceremony at Wentz Concert Hall on the North Central campus. Thomas is the first woman and first person of color to serve as North Central’s president.

Dr. Kathy Birkett and Dr. Herman White, both North Central College Trustees and co-chairs of the Inauguration Committee, provided remarks. Birkett welcomed guests and acknowledged that it was Veterans Day as well as the College’s Founders Day. White provided historical context around November 11, 1861—when the College first opened its doors to both men and women. At the time, it was unusual for men and women to attend college together — reflecting how North Central, from its founding, was forward-thinking and welcoming in that regard.

The installation ceremony was presided over by the College’s first female board chair, Holly Humphrey ’79, MD. She introduced President Thomas stating: “Dr. Thomas, your credentials and experience, together with your character and demeanor, are the ingredients that make you the right person at this time in our 162-year history to lead North Central College forward. 

Humphrey pledged her support for Thomas and encouraged all members of the Cardinal community to do the same. “I invite all of us to bolster Dr. Thomas and North Central College with our own disposition and demeanor, our service, and our prayers,” she said.

During the ceremony, Thomas pledged to guard and guide the institution by accepting the “Symbols of the College,” including the College charter, presented by representatives from College faculty and staff; the symbols of Lux Veritas—light and truth—presented by representatives from the student body; and the chain office, presented by Humphrey.

“I am so grateful to accept the symbols of office and to stand here as your leader,” Thomas said during her inaugural address. “Since its founding, North Central College opened its doors wide to educate both men and women for service, to move for what is right and for the importance of social justice. Given that history, it is fitting and appropriate that the College has selected a woman of color to lead.” 

Anita Thomas addresses the audience.

Speaking directly to students, Thomas added: “This institution is you, and this institution is for you. My doors are always open. I want to hear from you and learn with you. My leadership will only be as strong as we are when we live out our mission together—to be a diverse community of learners.”  

Anita Thomas with North Central College students.

Watch the full ceremony:

Photo Gallery

Worship Service

President Thomas is prayed over by the North Central community.

Before the Investiture Ceremony, a worship service at Koten Chapel provided an opportunity to pray and bless President Thomas as she began the day.

Reverend Eric Doolittle
Reverend D'ana Downing
Bishop Michael Dantley
President Anita Thomas singing and dancing.
Voices of Praise singing at the worship service.

President's Roundtable on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

Panelists at the President's Roundtable.
President Thomas at her roundtable.
Moderator Stephen Caliendo.


President Thomas with students at her festival.
Students at the president's festival.

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