by Chuck Luce
Puget Sound's new president likes Tacoma.
Ron Thomas, his wife, Mary, and their cat, Firenze, (our only child, Thomas laughs) moved into the president's house at the corner of North 18th and Union in early July. The couple immediately felt at home.
"We're accustomed to living on a college campus," says Thomas, who lived in campus housing at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., for nearly all of his 13 years there. "But being in residence on the Puget Sound campus will be particularly satisfying—both a privilege and an opportunity. A privilege because of the beautiful surroundings and the enthusiastic people we meet every day, and an opportunity because the boundary between campus and town is blended. I come as a person with a strong commitment to the concept of the college as citizen."
Thomas took office July 16. Much of his time in the next several months will be spent learning about the university and its people.
"The best institutions are built on relationships," he says. "So a primary goal for me is to get out and meet as many people as I can and hear their goals and dreams, expectations and disappointments. I especially want to reach out to alumni and share with them how proud I am to be associated with this college. I want to communicate to them what an amazing asset they have with a degree from this institution."
University administrators are in the process of setting up a series of listening sessions with alumni and community leaders.
"These are meant to be a tutorial for me," Thomas says. "I'm delighted to be here, and I know I have a lot to learn."
The meetings will at first take place mostly in the Northwest, where most Puget Sound alumni reside. Later, Thomas will be introduced at alumni clubs nationally. Locations, dates, and times will be announced in the Alumni Calendar section of Arches.
Meanwhile, the Thomases are meeting their North End neighbors ("We were in the Metropolitan Market eight times during our first seven days," says Thomas) and enjoying a Northwest summer, something, as a Seattle native, Mary Thomas has experienced before. Mary is a classics scholar and former dean of students at Trinity, and says she is looking forward to returning to translating classical poetry. To learn more about the Thomases, see the winter edition of Arches, due out in early December, for a feature-length article profiling them.
--from Arches alumni magazine, Autumn 2003