Larry P. Thomas, Inaugural Director
Larry P. Thomas is the inaugural director of the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars (FDDS) program.
Thomas established the FDDS program on a mission to elevate the intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and success of enterprising students for post-baccalaureate education, impactful citizenship, and lifelong achievement.
For over 15 years, hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students have relied on Thomas for guidance, encouragement, and mentorship. Among the most respected specialists in American higher education, he is known for his extraordinary success with high-achieving students. Before coming to American University, Thomas managed the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) at Syracuse University for nearly a decade. Under his exceptional leadership, the program enjoyed record levels of enrollment, raised the cumulative grade point average of its students from 2.3 to 3.2, and achieved the highest graduation rates in 22 years. Thomas’ high standards, common sense, and fresh approach to student development resulted in unprecedented progress for CSTEP, including the lowest student attrition rates and the highest undergraduate-to-graduate school enrollment rates in program history.
Thomas’ accomplishments in higher education include being awarded an honorary membership in the Golden Key International Honour Society at the University of Pennsylvania; being the first graduate student and African American to receive a Senior Vice President for Student Affairs “Students First” Award at Syracuse University; receiving the Faculty and Staff Inspiration Award at the 2005 Chancellor’s Awards for Public Service at Syracuse University; and receiving the inaugural Distinguished Gentleman Award at the 2007 Dimensions Awards at Syracuse University.
Other accomplishments include:
- liaising with the White House to facilitate Florida State University’s participation in President Clinton’s One America Initiative
- guiding the establishment of the Orange Seeds First-Year Student Leadership Empowerment Program at Syracuse University
- chairing the 2003 Sponsored Programs Committee for the American College Personnel Association’s Standing Committee for Multicultural Affairs
- completing the 2003 Institute for Social Justice Education and the 2004 Institute for Multicultural Organizational Development at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity
- establishing Syracuse University’s weeklong celebration of the life and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. — “I Have a Dream” Week
- founding the African American Male Congress, the nation’s first undergraduate honor society for African American males
Thomas previously served as associate director of the Office of Graduate Preparation Programs at Syracuse University, adjunct professor of sociology and psychology at Drexel University, area coordinator for College House and Conference Services at the University of Pennsylvania, residence coordinator at Florida State University, assistant area coordinator at Syracuse University, and administrative assistant at Rowan University. He has also written about higher education for the Huffington Post, the Post Standard, and Syracuse University Press.
Born and raised in a blue-collar suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thomas was the first member of his family to attend college. While working his way through Rowan University, he joined Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, studied sociology for a semester at the University of Portsmouth–United Kingdom, and successfully completed the selective National Black Student Leadership Institute at the College of William and Mary. After receiving a bachelor of arts degree in psychology at Rowan, Thomas earned a master of science in higher education administration and a master of business administration in entrepreneurship from Syracuse University. Thomas also completed the Management Development Program at Harvard University in 2007.
In addition to FDDS, Thomas is the founder of the LPT Foundation and proud supporter of the Salvation Army, Syracuse University, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, United Nations Children’s Fund, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater Foundation, Movember Foundation, Robin Hood Foundation, Humanity First, Partners in Health, Voto Latino, Aspen Institute, Fight for Children, and the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.