This archived article was written by: Kris Kohler
College of Eastern Utah’s Ryan Thomas will hang up his hat for good this spring after a seven-year stretch as president.
In an interview with Rick Shaw, Thomas said the idea to retire this year has been part of his family’s plans for some time now.
“When we came here my wife and I discussed the fact that when I turned 55, I would go back into teaching, so we decided to stick with the original plan,” said Thomas, “But even though we had committed to that as a family sometime ago, this was a hard decision for us.”
According to Thomas, his main goal when he first began as president was to strengthen the ties between the community and the college.
“There was a sense of uneasiness between the community and the school. And I have worked over the last seven years to help that situation,” said Thomas. “That has been an important focus for our entire administration in that time. We wanted both Price and Blanding to feel a part of the college.”
Along with the uneasy relationship between the college and the community, when he came to the school, it was $1.9 million in the red. Thomas feels that the part he played in getting the college out of debt was one of his greatest accomplishments while president.
“We are completely out of debt now and I feel very good about that,” Thomas said.
Thomas stated that the main reason behind his decision to retire is for the good of his growing family.
“Both Ann and I have aging parents in the Ogden area and some of our kids are there too,” he said. “We want to live in close proximity to them if we can.”
Thomas is deeply rooted in Carbon County and commented that he will truly feel that he is leaving what he has always considered home.
“My grandfather was a coal miner and my father was born in Sunnyside,” he stated. “My father was a foreman at the Castle Gate mine when the big disaster occurred there and that left a real imprint on him. While not all my kids grew up here, we spent enough time with relatives in the area that many of them also consider this home.”
One of the things that Thomas loved about Price when he first came here was the kind nature of the residents.
“A week after we arrived here I was walking through the bakery in a local grocery store and one of the men working there told me how glad he was that we were here,” he said. “That was a good feeling. I felt I was in the midst of friends. There is a warmth here that is remarkable.”
The board of regents had high praise for Thomas, when they discussed the issue in a meeting last month.
“President Thomas has made tremendous contributions to CEU as well as to the Utah system of higher education,” said Jed. H. Pitcher, regents chairman. “We are grateful for his dedication, sacrifice, and committed service to the students, the college and this state. He will be missed.”