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LU’s mourns passing of sixth president

With deep sympathy, Lamar University announces the passing of its sixth president, Frank Thomas, Jr. Aug. 6, 2020 at the age of 96.

Dr. Thomas served Lamar University with honor and distinction from 1958 through 1972. 

He began his academic career in 1951 when he joined the staff of Georgia Tech as an instructor. From 1954 to 1958, he was a research associate at Georgia Tech and in 1954 he was named assistant professor.

Thomas joined the staff of Lamar Tech in 1958 as professor and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. In 1961 he was named dean of the School of Engineering and in 1967 he was promoted to vice president of academic affairs. After the death of Dr. Richard Setzer in 1969, Thomas was selected as university president.

When taking the role of president, Thomas told the regents: My ambition is that Lamar, through its service to the community, Texas and the nation will become the pride and joy of every person who lives in our region just as it now is for you, the regents, our faculty, administration and student body.”

Thomas served until 1972, when the Board of Regents distinguished him as the university’s first “Regents’ Professor.”

A native of Atlanta, GA, Thomas completed undergraduate work at Auburn and Duke universities. He received
Frank Thomas Vertical
Dr. Frank Thomas
his bachelor of science degree and his doctorate from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Lamar University President Kenneth Evans said of Frank Thomas: “The status of our great university is due to the many dedicated leaders who paved the way for our current successes.  Frank was certainly among those leaders whose dedication, commitment, and diligence have allowed for Lamar University to play a transformative role in the lives of our students.  We will always be grateful to Frank for his leadership and guidance of Lamar during its early years.”

“We are grateful for Frank Thomas’ 14 years of service to Lamar University, culminating in his presidency,” said Juan Zabala, Vice President for University Advancement. “He was the leader we needed at the time and, to those of us fortunate to know Frank, he will always be remembered as a wonderful man, it was always a pleasure to have him on campus especially in the last few years.”

Visitation for Dr. Thomas will be Tues., Aug. 11, from 6-8 p.m. at Claybar Kelley-Watkins Funeral Home.  A graveside service will be held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery on Wed., Aug. 12, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, Thomas’s family wishes for benevolences in memory of Dr. Thomas can be directed to the General Scholarship Fund at Lamar University online at www.lamar.edu/give or by check to:  Lamar University Foundation , PO Box 11500, Beaumont, TX, 77710.