Dear RIC Community,
It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the news of Professor David Thomas’s passing. David served the college with great distinction for over 36 years, having held multiple leadership positions including chair of the Department of History, contributor to the college’s general education programs, coordinator and founder of the new program in Global Studies, early adopter of technology and online teaching, inspirational mentor, and longtime member of the Dialogue on Diversity Committee. His work will forever be imprinted on the academics of the institution through the faculty colleagues he mentored as well as the many students who benefited from his teaching. As one of his friends shared, “he loved teaching, and his students loved him.” On behalf of Rhode Island College, our deepest condolences are extended to David’s wife, RIC Professor Ellen Bigler, and their entire family. Should you wish to offer your personal thoughts, I am including information regarding upcoming memorial services in David’s memory organized by his colleagues and family members.
Frank D. Sánchez
On Friday, September 30, 11:30 a.m., RIC faculty, staff, and students are invited to a memorial gathering in Alger 110, Rhode Island College, with reception to follow.
On Saturday October 1, 2:00 p.m., there will be a service at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 840 Sandwich Road, Falmouth MA 02536. The service will be followed by a reception at 62 Crowell Road, Falmouth MA. Friends and family are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, people may contribute to a new Cap and Gown Award being established with his blessing by his RIC colleagues. The David S. Thomas Islamic Studies Award will recognize a Rhode Island College undergraduate student for their work in fostering a greater understanding of and appreciation of Islam. Please send checks to Rhode Island Foundation in the name of this award. Alternatively, people may choose to donate to the Katherine Murray Prize, which recognizes education graduates whose work promotes social justice teaching and an appreciation for diversity.
The Department of History supports the mission of Rhode Island College and the College of Arts and Sciences through its commitment to academic excellence and integrity and its emphasis on the central mission of teaching in a comprehensive, liberal arts college. The Department imparts a fundamental understanding of the formative role of the past to undergraduates across the College through its role in the Core Curriculum of the General Education Program, through elective courses it offers to support other programs and majors, and in its core History / Liberal Arts, History/Secondary Education and History/Elementary Education majors. In every case, History faculty promote critical thinking, historical interpretation and analytical writing.
In support of this mission, the Department recruits and maintains a diverse, research-active faculty. It is a collective of teachers and scholars whose research serves a variety of local, national and international audiences, communicated through both traditional print venues and in numerous public forums and conferences. This professional commitment brings originality and creativity to the classroom, challenges students with innovative, demanding ideas and stimulates historical curiosity and intellectual engagement.