Meet Dr. Anita Thomas, 11th president of North Central College

North Central College is proud to welcome Dr. Thomas, our 11th president as well as the first woman and the first person of color to lead the College as president.

If you would like to contact Dr. Thomas to send congratulations or have a request, please email

Dr. Anita Thomas, president of North Central College.


Anita Thomas, Ph.D., has been selected as the 11th president of North Central College. She will assume her official role at the College on July 1, 2023. 

A mission-driven leader, researcher, educator, and psychologist, Thomas is a champion of liberal arts and sciences education, particularly as a foundation for developing curiosity and civic engagement. Over more than 25 years in higher education, she has gained deep experience in shaping strategic vision and the direction of student intellectual life.

Thomas was unanimously elected by North Central College’s Board of Trustees following a months-long national search that engaged trustees, students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Her appointment is historic. In North Central’s 162-year history, Thomas is the first woman and the first person of color chosen to become the president. In addition to leading the College, she will hold the faculty rank of professor of psychology in North Central’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Thomas is currently the executive vice president and provost at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., one of the largest private women’s universities in the country. In her role as chief academic officer, she has provided strategic leadership for the university’s academic programs. Among her achievements, she spearheaded implementation of the institution’s academic master plan, including the launch of the Office of Intercultural Engagement and Social Justice to increase cultural fluency and global awareness. In addition to academic affairs at St. Catherine, Thomas has been responsible for student affairs and career development.

Prior to arriving at St. Catherine in 2019, Thomas was the founding dean of the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, where she provided oversight for academic programs in psychology, social work, mental health counseling, and art therapy. Like North Central College, the University of Indianapolis is affiliated with the United Methodist Church (UMC).

Thomas served for 10 years at Loyola University Chicago, where she was a faculty member in the counseling psychology and school counseling department. She also became the graduate program director for counseling psychology and later associate dean for academic affairs and research in the School of Education, a role that included responsibility for community engagement. In 2010, Thomas received the Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year Award from Loyola’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. Prior to Loyola, she was associate professor and department chair for counselor education at Northeastern Illinois University.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Thomas was raised in a family of educators who taught her the importance and value of education, both as a process and an outcome. She holds a doctorate degree in counseling psychology from Loyola University Chicago, specializing in family therapy and multicultural counseling. She also earned a master’s degree in community counseling from Loyola. Her bachelor’s degree in education and social policy is from Northwestern University.

Thomas’ leadership extends to her involvement with the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; the Council of Independent Colleges; the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education; and the American Psychological Association (APA). With the APA, she has served as chair of the Women’s Program Office; chair of the Committee for Children, Youth, and Families; and a member of the Task Force on Resilience and Strength in Black Children and Adolescents. Also with the APA, she has conducted Congressional Hill visits and served as a legislative liaison.

Thomas is known nationally for her research on racial socialization in African American families, stereotypical roles of African American women and girls, and the development of critical consciousness and resilience. She has conducted training, seminars, and workshops on multicultural issues for state and national professional organizations in counseling and psychology, as well as for hospitals, corporations, and human service organizations. She received the Association of Black Psychologists Research Award in 2013, and she has co-authored two books: Culture and Identity: Stories for Therapists and Counselors (2016) and Dimensions of Multicultural Counseling: A Life Story Approach (2008). 

Find Out More

Dr. Kathryn Birkett, Dr. Anita Thomas and Holly Humphrey, MD.

Making History

During Women's History Month, Holly Humphrey, MD '79, the first woman ever to serve as chair of the North Central Board of Trustees, introduced President-elect Dr. Anita Thomas, the first woman to lead the College as president, who was recruited by Dr. Kathryn Birkett, chair of the presidential search committee.


Get to know Dr. Anita Thomas as she shares her thoughts about why she came to North Central and what she hopes to bring as the 11th president of the College.


Re-live the introduction of Dr. Anita Thomas live in the Wentz Concert Hall.

Dr. Anita Thomas, president of North Central College, taking a selfie with a faculty member.


Read the announcement from the chair of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Holly Humphrey '79.

Dr. Anita Thomas, president of North Central College, talking with students.

Press Release

Read the press release about the appointment of the College's 11th president.

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