Dr. Carolyn Thomas
Once a Titan, always a Titan. For Dr. Carolyn Thomas, taking the reins as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs means her career has indeed come full circle. She began her journey in higher education at California State University, Fullerton as an undergraduate who earned her bachelor’s in American Studies and German. She is proud to return “home.”
As Cal State Fullerton’s provost, Dr. Thomas is a member of the President’s Cabinet and leads division engagement in areas of institutional priority. As Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Thomas provides leadership for division student success initiatives and the planning and management of academic, instructional, and financial resources supporting teaching and scholarly activities.
Previously, Dr. Thomas was a professor of American Studies and Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education at the University of California, Davis. She worked across the campus community to improve student learning and graduation outcomes for all. She also served as department chair, director of the UC Davis Humanities Institute, and convener of a UC system-wide humanities consortium.
As a faculty member, Dr. Thomas’ research explored how technological innovation and food production, combined with marketing and advertising, impacted Americans’ definitions of “health.” She has been featured on NPR and the BBC for her award-winning book, Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda (2010). She has written two books, two edited volumes, and over thirty articles on such topics as the origins of weight training, the mechanization of tomatoes in California, the fondness for Krispy Kreme donuts in the South, and the ineffectiveness of “diet” foods as weight-loss tools. Dr. Thomas was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Mentoring at UC Davis. As an administrator, her recent research and professional work focused on enhancing student academic success through inclusive teaching, advising, and mentoring practices.
Dr. Thomas earned her Doctor of Philosophy in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001.