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Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Associate Provost James Thomas set to retire at the end of the semester

Associate Provost James Thomas set to retire at the end of the semester

After working at Point Park in various roles since 2008, Associate Provost James Thomas will be retiring on July 1. In his role at Point Park, Thomas has served as a man behind the scenes acting as a bridge for the provost to many different areas like academic affairs and has also served deans where extra help is needed. 

Thomas has been in higher education since 1978 and plans to take up tutoring, travel and play more ping pong when he leaves the university. 

“I am looking forward to retiring,” Thomas said. “But I will miss helping [staff and faculty] in their jobs.” 

Provost Michael Soto said that he is finalizing the search plan for another associate provost to fill the position.  

“I expect to launch a search for an assistant or associate provost (depending on experience) in the next couple of weeks,” Soto said in an email to the Globe. 

Thomas was hired to the university by the current Director of Education Karen Mcintyre. In 2008 she was formerly the dean for the school of arts and sciences.  

“I think the University after a couple of years realized there were a number of different tasks and areas that could be combined and centralized,” Thomas said. “We looked for a more central associate provost model and that’s when I moved into under the provost.” 

Thomas said that he compares himself and his job to the retired Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu. 

“Polamalu was amazing, and he was a defensive player,” Thomas said. “As soon as the ball was snapped, he would back up and look and see where he was needed. Does he need to stay back and maybe intercept the path? Does he need to go up and tackle somebody? But where is he needed? I look at my position [and ask] where am I most needed?” 

Heather Starr Fiedler, chair of community engagement, said that Thomas has been a volunteer for the Pioneer Pantry since it opened. 

“He comes faithfully every week to help fill orders,” Fiedler said. “His dedication to students is genuine and wonderful. He is always willing to help out in any way possible. He is truly one of the kindest people I have had the pleasure of working with.” 

Director for the Center for Media Innovation Andy Conte learned that he went to the same undergraduate school and high school as Thomas. Conte said that when Thomas first joined the university, he made sure to be one of the people who went out of their way to welcome the new faculty member to Point Park. 

“[James] mainly works quietly behind the scenes at Point Park to make things better,” Conte said. “He advocates for students, smooths over rough patches, and pushes the school to be true to its academic roots while living up to its aspirations.” 

Conte said that Thomas goes out of his way to make Point Park a friendly and welcoming place and wishes for the next chapter of his life to be great.

Provost Soto wrote to The Globe about the shared confidence he and his faculty have in Thomas.

“Dr. Thomas has earned the trust of everyone who knows him, something I’ve come to rely on when I need his advice on a tricky question or when I’ve asked him to serve as acting provost in my absence” Soto said. “

The open position is not yet posted on the university website but the search will begin in the coming weeks.

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