Thomas Krise, Dean of the College of the Pacific, the arts and sciences college of the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California since 2008, will assume the presidency of Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) in Tacoma, Washington in June. He succeeds Loren J. Anderson who will leave PLU in May, after 20 years at the university.
An army brat, Thomas was born in Texas, lived in Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and Germany, and attended high school in the Virgin Islands. When asked three words to describe himself, Thomas explained that at the University of Pacific, students, staff, and faculty pick one word to describe themselves. The word that Thomas picked with the help of others was “collaborate.” Thomas also described himself as cheerful and energetic.
Thomas earned a B.S. in history from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983, an M.S.A. in management from Central Michigan University in 1986, an M.A. in English from the University of Minnesota in1989, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago in 1995. Thomas is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Currently, Thomas resides in Stockton, California with his wife Patricia Love Krise, a Fortune-50 manager and executive currently with the Ford Motor Company. “My wife and I like outdoor kinds of things: hiking and water sports, including swimming. I do some scuba diving and sailing. We also like to cook and entertain.” Thomas lived on a sailboat when he was a teenager with his parents when he was 13 and 14 years of age. Thomas’ adventure began when he sailed the Atlantic Coast, from Maine down to Trinidad. “That’s how I got interested in early Caribbean literature,” Thomas commented.
When asked how long he has worked in his current career, Thomas replied, “It’s sort of blended. I spent 22 years in the Air Force. I was in the English department at the Air Force Academy, and was a senior military fellow of the Institute for National Strategic Studies from 1995 to 1997. I was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of West Indies in Jamaica in 1999. After I retired from the Air Force, I was chair of the Department of English at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.” What led Thomas to his current career path is his interest in working with students, such as teaching and the whole academic environment. Thomas commented, “I love the community of experts and helping to make good things happen, the blend of all of that. I love working with people who care about other people.”
Thomas shared what many people may not know about his career, “I started by Air Force career as a missileer in Minot, North Dakota for four years. In this role, he was responsible for intercontinental ballistic missiles and the people who maintain them.
Thomas feels his greatest accomplishment was being a positive influence on students and people he has worked with. For example, he had advised a student who was very good in one of his classes yet, was struggling in other classes. The student was majoring in engineering and Thomas advised the student to study humanities instead of engineering, even though the student was under pressure from his family and friends to stick with engineering. Ultimately, the student was successful and is now an F-22 fighter pilot in the Air Force. When asked what his long-term and short-term career goals were, Thomas replied, “This is really my dream job. This was exactly the place I winded up and I’m delighted to be a part of PLU.” As for his goals with PLU, Thomas commented, “Initially, I will listen and pay attention to the institution rather than make plans. PLU has a strong focus on international programming, which includes: study abroad, and international exchanges. PLU also has a strong sense of mission. They have been helping students realize what they are really meant to do while making a difference. PLU also has a very strong focus on undergraduate research. PLU’s faculty members work very closely with students on research projects. PLU’s very strong on that and I’m very much attracted to those things; those would be the things I’d like to strengthen. I would like to help the university to be better known; it’s doing great work. Overall, I would be making sure the University is well known and appreciated, which is an important role for the president.”
When asked what motivates him, Thomas commented that he loves the acceptance speech given by Reese Witherspoon when she won the Oscar for playing June Carter Cash in “Walk the Line.” Witherspoon said that Cash always said that she was “Just trying to matter.” That’s what Thomas says about himself. For more information about Pacific Lutheran University and Thomas, please visit: http://www.plu.edu/presidential-search/ “A great thing about PLU is the way it engages the community, what a partner it is with Tacoma and the surrounding region. I’m very much attracted to how PLU engages with the community and look forward to being part of the community,” Thomas concluded.
By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com