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Meet the Dean

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David A. Thomas is Dean and William R. Berkley Chair of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

A recognized thought leader in organizational behavior and strategic human resource management, David A. Thomas’ research expertise focuses on issues related to executive development, cultural diversity in organizations, leadership, and organizational change.

Thomas, who joined Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business as Dean and William R. Berkley Chair in August 2011, has enhanced academic and professional opportunities for the school’s 1,300 undergraduates and 1,000 graduate students to ensure that they acquire a global business mindset and become nimble innovative thinkers and principled leaders in service to both business and society. Such efforts include a major redesign of the MBA curriculum, expansion of the MBA career management activities, and enhancement of academic and professional opportunities for undergraduate students, such as the addition of the Global Business Experience for juniors and the growth of the popular First Year Seminar for freshmen as a permanent set of courses. In addition, Thomas formed a task force associated with the Aspen Institute to infuse and integrate liberal learning into the undergraduate curriculum and established a Professional Development Center through the Office of Undergraduate Programs.

During his administration, Thomas also has increased the diversity of the school’s faculty to the extent that 55 percent of its faculty now are women, under-represented minorities, or international. He has launched new research initiatives, grown the Executive Education program revenues by 400 percent, and increased giving to the school. In the last three years, Thomas has revised the school’s $100 million capital campaign goal up to $125 million, of which the school currently has raised over $110 million.

Partnering with the Washington, D.C., community, Thomas is a member of the Federal City Council and has served as co-chair of the District of Columbia Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy Initiative. In 2014, the Washington Business Journal recognized him as one of the top Minority Business Leaders.
Thomas has co-authored two books — Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America (Harvard Business Press, 1999) and Leading For Equity: The Pursuit of Excellence in Montgomery County (Harvard Education Press, 2009) — and more than 60 case studies and articles for leading academic journals and practitioner publications.

In addition to being widely published, Thomas has earned a number of awards, including the Executive Development Roundtable’s Marion Gislason Award for Contributions to the Theory and Practice of Executive Development. He also received the Administrative Science Quarterly Scholarly Contribution Award for the article that had the most impact on the field in the last five years. He also earned the George R. Terry Award from the Academy of Management for the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of management knowledge for his book, Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America.

Thomas came to Georgetown McDonough following a two-decade career at Harvard Business School where he was the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration and directed the school’s Organizational Behavior Unit. He also served as senior associate dean and director of faculty recruitment at Harvard; led its business school’s required first-year MBA course, Leadership and Organizational Behavior; and held the position of faculty chair for several executive education programs. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard in 1990, Thomas was an assistant professor of management at the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thomas received a Bachelor of Arts in Administrative Sciences and Master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Organizational Behavior from Yale University. He also holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. He currently is a member of the Board of Directors of DTE Energy and the Estoril Conferences Advisory Board.

I love teaching. I love the process of discovery in the classroom. What we want to do here at McDonough, is to have our students come through and leave feeling as if they were transformed.

David A. Thomas, Dean and William R. Berkley Chair of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business