Leslie Thomas has served Kentucky State University for the last quarter century. There are few administrators on the campus who are loved as much as she is, and she considers the students on the campus to be her children. She also happens to be white.
But race is no barrier in Thomas’ fight to improve the leadership culture at Kentucky State University. While both storied and respected in the region, the university has been dogged by student complaints about faulty facilities, inadequate instruction in the classroom and a myriad of other issues that may serve to hold back their potential.
For years, Thomas has been outspoken about the problems at the institution, stating that the university should do a better job of serving its students. This didn’t sit well with the current administration, which suddenly dismissed her in October.
Thomas says that she was dismissed without warning and had no idea what the meeting was all about. She also says that university officials told her that they had no obligation to explain to her why she was being dismissed after 25 years of service. The move shocked both faculty and students, who felt that Thomas was a campus staple that couldn’t be removed.
Thomas and her students didn’t take the dismissal sitting down. After weeks of continuous protest, supporters of Thomas have placed a petition on Moveon.org, asking that the state of Kentucky investigate the current administration on the Kentucky State University campus.
They are accusing the school, namely the president, Dr. Mary Evans Sias, of mismanagement of university funds, attacks on current employees and overpaying her favored colleagues. They believe that a culture of intimidation has been created on the campus, where those who speak up against the administration are likely to be unfairly disciplined.
The petition reads:
We believe current administration is making illogical decisions with our school. We are also concerned about the attacks from administration on current alumni employees, faculty and staff, student regulatory issues, and mismanagement of budgetary funds hiring under qualified employees at inflated salaries for subordinate control.