Professor Emeritus Michael P. Thomas, Jr., a former associate dean in the College of Education and chair of the Department of Educational Administration, died Thursday, Nov. 13, from cancer-related complications. He was 76.
Thomas received his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University and his master’s and doctor’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He joined The University of Texas at Austin in 1962 and in his more than four decades of service assumed a number of roles, including academic adviser, professor, associate dean of the College of Education and chair of the Department of Educational Administration. As part of the nationally top-ranked Department of Educational Administration, Thomas taught classes in the award-winning programs for the preparation of school principals, superintendents and higher education administrators.
In addition to his leadership positions on campus, Thomas also was executive secretary of the National Council for Educational Administration, a member of the planning committee for UNESCO’s Congress On Information and Education, and commissioner and president of the Texas Private School Accreditation Commission.
Known as a pioneer in the area of organizational theory in education, Thomas’s research interests included educational administration, professionalism and ethics, school accreditation and continuing education. His studies of the organizational design of major school districts in Texas and beyond resulted in significant and improved restructuring of those districts.
He retired from the university in August 2007.
“Mike Thomas was a cherished colleague and friend to faculty, staff and students throughout our college and the university,” said Dr. Jay Scribner, the Ken McIntyre Professor of Educational Administration and long-time friend of Thomas. “He treasured his work with the many graduate students with whom he came in contact over the years. His intellect, quick wit, compassion and consideration for all with whom he came in contact will be sorely missed.”
Thomas is survived by his wife of 52 years, Jeanne, daughters Susan, Judith and Laura, sons Michael, Mark and 15 grandchildren.
Services are scheduled for 12:30 p.m., Nov. 17, at St. Theresa Catholic Church, 4311 Small Drive in Austin. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Michael P. Thomas Jr., Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Educational Administration. You may make checks payable to The University of Texas at Austin College of Education (place “Michael P. Thomas” in the memo section) and send them to the College of Education, 1 University Station D5000, Austin, Texas 78712-0374