ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH & DIRECTOR OF THE HONORS PROGRAM
Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program is an individual of many interests and activities. The "pop culture" side of modern television isn't one of them.
"I wouldn't watch American Idol if you held a gun to my head," says the pleasantly mannered professor when asked about her TV viewing tastes. She says she's more the History Channel/Discovery Channel type.
That's not to say she doesn't enjoy other modern entertainment fare. She is a fan of the most recent version of "Casino Royale," the James Bond classic, found "Wedding Crashers" to be very funny, and enjoyed the cleverness of "Stranger Than Fiction." She calls herself a "serious movie buff."
Most of all, though, she loves books and her field of study: English. She describes herself as a "generalist" in English, with interest in composition, literature and the humanities.
At Tusculum College she has revised the women's literature course and worked in development of humanities courses.
Growing up in Indiana, daughter of an IRS agent who enjoyed reading Zane Grey and a mother who read romantic novels, she began reading as a small child and hasn't stopped since.
She credits her teachers from elementary school through college for strengthening and focusing her interests and leading her into the academic world. "I owe all I am today to my teachers from grade school on," she says.
She was particularly influenced in her college experience by George Klinger, a professor emeritus at the University of Evansville and a man she considers a mentor. After learning from him and others as she earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees at Evansville, she went on to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale to earn a Ph.D.
At Tusculum she tries to maintain a focus on her students as individual personalities, and stresses mental health as she teaches. Traditional college students are at an age particularly vulnerable to anxiety, stress and other pressures, she says.
She has been known to host meals and movie nights at her home for her classes.
She presents frequently at professional conferences, having done so four times last year. She particularly enjoys the annual ACA Summit, where she meets people from colleges similar to Tusculum. She is a discipline leader for the 2007 ACA Summit, held in Abingdon, Va.
She has two grown children and "the world's most wonderful daughter-in-law."
QUOTE: One of her favorites comes from Neitzsche: "Without music, life would be a mistake."
MUSIC: Dr. Thomas' musical tastes are varied. She loves the musical styles presented in the movie "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" (another favorite movie) and also is a devotee of classical music.
BOOKS: Two favorite books are "The Professor and the Madman," a story of the authors of the Oxford English Dictionary, and "Out of the Flames," a biography of Michael Servetus, who was burned at the stake for his religious beliefs in 1553, his last words being: "Jesus, Son of the Eternal God, have mercy on me."
For recreational reading, Dr. Thomas enjoys suspense novels and works by Thomas Harris and Greg Iles. She also enjoys reading Shakespeare.