Dr. David A. Thomas: Purveyor of Black Consciousness

By Andre LaFontant

Atlanta, GA — Since he was a young man, Dr. David A. Thomas knew that he wanted to lead a legacy that would impact the world. This singular notion acts as a perpetually renewable resource, fueling him to succeed in excess throughout his career in education. “As I matured in my career, I realized my ability to guide people towards achieving their potential. That’s what really pulled me towards leadership,” he says.

That passion for cultivating leaders expanded from roles carried out as a faculty member at Harvard Business School, acting as Dean of Georgetown Business School, and most recently, as Morehouse College’s 12th President. Dr. Thomas states, “at Morehouse…I have the capacity to influence other people’s development and in particular perpetuate the distinctive mission of the college, which is to develop black men with disciplined lives, leading lives of leadership and service.”

As the leader of this storied community of black learners, Dr. Thomas emphasizes “balancing the paradigm of empowerment and accountability.” In order to communicate this effectively to his faculty, staff, and student body, he understands that communication must be three-fold: equal parts verbal, nonverbal, and symbolic. He goes further to say, “People read how the U.S. President spends his time and will conclude what is important to the leader by those choices…I want to empower those who work for me to chart their best course toward achievement and excellence.”

He believes that empowerment deserves accountability on a global stage, with a strong ambition to raise resources that enable every student to have an international experience. This is with the hopes of exposing them to a different cultural context in order to be better global citizens.

An intentional determination is writ large through Dr. Thomas’ words. His vision will undoubtedly lead him to cement a legacy of growth. “Morehouse is a place where the narrative of black men simply living to survive has no place. The narrative here, the expectation, is about black men thriving, irrespective of the challenges that society places in their way. Our best-known president is often quoted for starting New Student Orientation by telling the new freshmen, ‘At Morehouse, there is an air of expectancy. It is expected that you will do well.’” One can expect the tradition of Morehouse, an undeniable linchpin in black history, to continue to thrive under Dr. Thomas’ direction.

He states, “an ambition of mine is to raise the resources that would allow us to require every Morehouse student to have a global experience…immerse themselves and relate to a different cultural context. Less than 5 percent of our student body are international students. I would love to have the resources to expand that to be 20 percent of our student body.”