Headshot of Susan L. Thomas

Susan L. Thomas

Truman State University
Award Winner
2021 District VI Chief Executive Leadership Award


Dr. Thomas has successfully led Truman State University since March 1, 2016, after serving as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost since 2014.  During her tenure, the University has adopted a new core curriculum, created an Inclusive Excellence Strategic Plan, completed $26 million in renovations across campus, pushed through a $10 million Guaranteed Energy Savings Project, and exceeded the $40 million goal of the Pursue the Future capital campaign, Truman’s most ambitious advancement effort to date.  In addition, she led the University’s sesquicentennial celebration which incorporated a city-wide commemoration of Kirksville’s 175th anniversary, rebranded the University and the Bulldog Athletic program with the creation of a new logos and a tagline, and most recently spearheaded the development and approval of a new outcomes-based University strategic plan.  All of this and more occurred while President Thomas continued to effectively navigate the major challenges currently facing all colleges and universities throughout the nation, including enrollment, retention, budget,  compensation, and diversity and inclusion.  

As one of Truman’s most loyal Bulldogs, President Thomas leads the University with a caring, can-do-spirit projecting her positivity to campus and the local community.  She is truly devoted to the campus and routinely attends the performances, competitions, and activities of students, faculty, and staff.  She is open and responsive to everyone who contacts her.  President Thomas is a natural conversationalist.  She regularly communicates with donors about Truman’s impact on the local community, the region, state, and nation.  Dr. Thomas prioritizes fundraising and takes significant time to steward various shareholders.  She works to recognize hard work and achievement, and through meetings, emails, and an enormous number of personal notes, Dr. Thomas serves in the role of supporter, problem-solver, and positive messenger for faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, donors, and community members. 

Dr. Thomas’ leadership extends beyond Truman to government, collegiate, and community organizations.  She is on the Board of Directors for Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, working to empower young women to build courage, confidence, and character.  Dr. Thomas is chair of the Council on Public Higher Education in Missouri (COPHE) and is a member of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education Commissioner’s Advisory Group.  She most recently was appointed by Missouri Governor Mike Parson to serve on the Midwestern Higher Education Compact to support the work of enhancing higher education in the Midwest.