John Martin Thomas

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John Martin Thomas
Jno Martin Thomas.jpg
Thomas pictured in La Vie 1922, Penn State yearbook
12th President of Rutgers University
In office
Preceded by William H. S. Demarest
Succeeded by Philip Milledoler Brett
Personal details
Born December 27, 1869
Fort Covington, New York, USA
Died February 26, 1952(1952-02-26) (aged 82)
Rutland, Vermont, USA

John Martin Thomas (December 27, 1869 – February 26, 1952) was the ninth president of Middlebury College, the ninth president of Penn State, and the twelfth president of Rutgers University.


Born at Fort Covington, New York, Thomas was an alumnus of Middlebury College, and the Union Theological Seminary. He served as a pastor at the Arlington Avenue Presbyterian Church in East Orange, New Jersey from 1893 to 1908. In 1908, he was appointed President of Middlebury College. While president of Middlebury, Thomas oversaw the founding of two of its most prestigious institutions, the Middlebury College Language Schools in 1915 and the Bread Loaf School of English in 1920. In addition, he guided a rapid expansion of Middlebury's main campus from four buildings to nine. McCullough Gymnasium (1912) Voter Hall (1913) Mead Chapel (1914), and Hepburn Hall (1917) formed the edges of what is now Middlebury's Main Quadrangle, and Pearson's Hall (1911) became the first building constructed for the women's college. He continued to serve as Middlebury's president until 1921, when he became President of the Pennsylvania State College (now a University). He left Penn State in 1925.

When Thomas was appointed president in 1925, Rutgers was upgraded from a college to a university. During his tenure, enrollment grew steadily, four year courses in Economics and Business Administration were added to the curriculum, the New Jersey College of Pharmacy was incorporated into the University, and the Bureau of Biochemical and Bacteriology Research was established, in addition to the construction of several new buildings. Thomas resigned in 1930 due to indecisiveness between the state of New Jersey and university officials over the half-private, half-public role of Rutgers. Upon his resignation, Thomas assumed a vice-presidency of the National Life Insurance Company in Montpelier, Vermont, became acting president of Norwich University in 1937, and then its president in 1939.[1]

Thomas died in Rutland, Vermont in 1952 at the age of 83.


  • Who Was Who in America. A component volume of Who's Who in American History (Chicago: A.N. Marquis Co.)

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Ezra Brainerd
President of Middlebury College
Succeeded by
Paul Dwight Moody
Preceded by
Edwin Erle Sparks
Pennsylvania State University President
1921 – 1925
Succeeded by
Ralph Dorn Hetzel
Preceded by
William H. S. Demarest
President of Rutgers University
Succeeded by
Philip Milledoler Brett