October 2, 2020

BCC’s Thomas to present Lovell Leadership event from MaPSAC

Renee Thomas Renee Thomas

Renee Thomas, director of Purdue’s Black Cultural Center, will provide leadership insights Oct. 21 in the Lovell Leadership Series, presented by the Management and Professional Staff Advisory Committee (MaPSAC).

The event will be at noon-1 p.m. via Zoom. All University staff are welcome to attend with supervisor approval. Registration is required. Registrants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. Live captioning of this event will be available to all attendees as part of the lecture discussion.

Those who would like to submit questions to Thomas for this discussion should email them to APSAC-PD@purdue.edu. This discussion will be moderated to minimize interruptions during the event. 

Thomas has 30 years of experience in higher education administration with expertise in program development, student services, community engagement and fundraising. Thomas is committed to promoting a campus climate that ensures the inclusion of diverse students, faculty and staff in all aspects of the University. During her tenure, Thomas has been known for her ability to nurture, support and mentor students. She plays an active role in enhancing student success and retention. Thomas is service-oriented and encourages global citizenship and academic achievement. She recently completed a three-year appointment as Provost Fellow for diversity and inclusion.

Under her direction, BCC has positioned itself to be nationally recognized as one of the best centers in the country. The center received the National Council for Black Studies 2006 Sankore Institutional Award and the National Association of Black Culture Centers 2007 Kemet Award. The center provides purposeful, holistic, scholarly and co-curricular programming designed to strengthen understanding of African American heritage. The center enhances the academic, cultural and social development of the entire community.

In 1999, the BCC moved into a new multimillion-dollar freestanding facility. Thomas was instrumental in providing visionary leadership to make the dream of a new facility become a reality. She was responsible for identification, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship of major donations and contributions to the center. Throughout her tenure, Thomas has been responsible for development of the annual Cultural Arts Series, which features prominent scholars who have contributed extensively to human rights, business and education.  Thomas has hosted Maya Angelou, Spike Lee, Harry Belafonte, Benjamin Jealous and others.  She was the driving force behind the development of a curriculum-based programming model for the Black Cultural Center performing arts ensemble program, which includes an educational research tour. Research tours have included visits to Harlem, New York; Detroit; Philadelphia; Birmingham, Alabama; and other locations.

Thomas was a 2000 recipient of the YWCA Salute to Women Award, which honors women for outstanding and inspirational achievement, community involvement and distinguished service as a role model. Other notable honors include the 2007 Dreamer Award at Purdue, Trenton State College Distinguished Alumni Award, 2013 Purdue Black Graduate Association Staff Leadership Award, and the Tippecanoe County Minority Health Coalition Award for Community Service. She is a graduate of the College of New Jersey and completed her master’s degree in college student personnel at Ohio University.

In addition to her professional duties, Thomas is engaged in the local community. She has held leadership positions on numerous civic, cultural, professional and volunteer organizations. She served on the board of directors for Leadership Lafayette, YWCA, Eli Lilly Community Advisory Panel, Tippecanoe Arts Federation Director Roundtable, College Mentors for Kids and the Advisory Council for Hanna Community Center. She is actively involved in church activities.  

A love for travel and interest in global affairs has taken her to Africa, Australia, South America, Europe and more than 30 states in North America. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, fishing and spending time with her husband, Joseph, and their daughter, Lauren.

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