W. Stewart Thomas, Ph.D., CPA, CGMA has been promoted to vice chancellor for Finance and Administration at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings announced.
The university’s Board of Trustees approved Cummings’ recommendation on Monday, August 7.
Thomas has spent the majority of his 17-year career at UNCP in the School of Business, working his way up from lecturer to associate professor, to associate dean. In recent years, Thomas has stepped in to fill several top-level positions, including interim associate provost, interim associate vice chancellor for Enrollment and interim dean of the School of Business. This past year, Thomas also served as Faculty Athletic Representative.
“It is an extreme honor to be selected for this position,” Thomas said. “For the past 17 years, UNCP has been an integral part of my life. I have been very fortunate to be able to serve in several positions, work my way up and contribute at a higher level.
“The first 18 years of my career was in accounting, manufacturing, and finance. Combined with the past 17 years in academia, I feel I have a unique synergistic opportunity in the new position,” he said. “I am extremely excited about combining both careers to hopefully add greater value at UNCP.
“Since I have been here, I have had a passion for helping students, now I have a chance to help the university at large in another capacity,” Thomas said.
“Dr. Stewart Thomas has developed an invaluable combination of skills and experiences that uniquely prepares him for success as vice chancellor for Finance and Administration,” Dr. Cummings said.
“As a faculty member, he has a deep understanding of the university’s life-changing mission. And having served in leadership roles at UNCP and in the corporate sector, he has demonstrated a keen ability to inspire others to achieve desired results. Importantly, as a native of southeastern North Carolina, Dr. Thomas is passionate about harnessing the power of the university to serve our region,” Cummings said.
Before joining UNCP, Thomas worked 10 years for Eaton Corporation in Laurinburg. He served as controller for the Golf Grip Division, for the North American and UK operations. A certified public accountant, he previously served as chief financial officer for ZF Meritor.
Encouraging words from his former boss, Dave Bartek, sparked Thomas’ career move to academia.
“He would always tell me, ‘you need to teach because you have an uncanny way of explaining things to others,’” Thomas said. “So, when an opportunity afforded itself a couple of years later, I accepted a lecturer position at UNCP.”
Thomas, a Maxton native, has always had a strong personal connection to the university. His late mother, Betty Jean Thomas, graduated from what was then Pembroke State University. She earned her master’s degree immediately after from Pembroke State University as well.
“I live in Laurinburg, but my birth place is Robeson County,” he said. “I have a strong passion for the well-being and economic growth of Robeson County, Scotland County, and the economic well-being of the entire region.”
Thomas begins his new role on August 21.
His new responsibilities will range from finance, management, and budgeting to facilities, strategic planning, purchasing, business services, human resources and the Division of Information Technology. Thomas adds, “There are many great employees in these departments at UNCP. I look forward to working with each of them.”
Thomas will serve as the chief financial officer of UNC Pembroke and treasurer of the UNCP Foundation Board.
While at UNCP, Thomas has served on several committees, including the SACS Quality Enhancement Plan Committee, Online Quality Committee and the Provost Search Committees in 2011 and 2017. He is the recipient of the Adolph Dial Endowed Award in the area of Community Service, Changing Lives Through Education award, and School of Business Professor of the Year.
His community service awards include, the Scotland County Chamber of Commerce Dunbar/McCoy Community Service Award, and two-time recipient of the North Carolina Governor's Award for Volunteerism.
Thomas’ civic involvement includes serving the past 11 years on the Scotland Health Care System’s finance committee. He has also dedicated many years as a member of the Scotland Regional Hospice Board of Directors.
Thomas and his wife, Carol, have co-chaired the Scotland County Relay for Life, since its inception in 1997.
“It has been an honor to chair Relay along with my wife and an amazing team of volunteers for the past 21 years. I am passionate about service and giving back to the community and serving the less fortunate.
“I tell my students to find a place that is special to them and contribute their time and talents. It doesn’t have to always be monetarily.”
Thomas earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his master’s at Campbell University, and his doctorate at Capella University in Minnesota.
He and his wife, Carol, reside in Laurinburg. Thomas has one son, Chris, and two step-children, Andrew and Amanda.