The dean emeritus of the College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University was recently honored with one of North Carolina’s most prestigious civilian awards for his outstanding service to the state in the area of health equity.
Dr. Stephen Thomas, who retired in October, was presented the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award Feb. 6 during the 11th annual Jean Mills Symposium, an event aimed at generating awareness and solutions for health problems that plague North Carolinians and especially minorities. Thomas has been instrumental in organizing the event over the past decade.
Although the honor was conferred by the governor, the surprise presentation was made by Dr. Johnny Williams, president of the Old North State Medical Society; Amos T. Mills, founder of the Mills Symposium; Dr. Don Ensley, professor emeritus of health services and information management; and Dr. Julius Mallette, president of the Andrew A. Best Medical Society.
Thomas served the university for 34 years. He joined ECU in 1980 as a faculty member in the rehabilitation studies department, tasked to start and direct the vocational evaluation master’s degree program. He was named chair of the department in 1998 and interim dean of the former School of Allied Health Sciences in April 2001.
After his promotion to dean in 2003, Thomas led the school through several new endeavors including a move from its former location in the Belk Building to the new Health Sciences Building in 2006, and a name change from the School of Allied Health Sciences to the College of Allied Health Sciences in 2007.