Kimberly Thomas, She/Her
Dean of Students
I am Kimberly Cooper Thomas. I am southern born and southern raised by Lola and Charles. My parents were first generation college students who retired from teaching after decades of work in public school predominately located in rural Alabama. They made it clear that attending college was not optional and they surrounded me with a supportive village of family and friends to speak encouragement and affirmation into my life.
I attended the University of Alabama where I earned a bachelors degree in English with a minor in math in 1988. I earned my juris doctorate at the University of Alabama School of Law in 1991. I passed the Alabama State Bar in 1991 and the Florida State Bar in 1999. I thought that I would be a sports attorney and speech writer for lobbyist or politicians because I loved sports and I had been a passionate student in high school and college. To my surprise, I married a football coach and never lived in Alabama or described any other state as “home.” I never imagined that I would live in Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida twice, Indiana, or Nevada. I also never imagined that my work as a prosecutor, stay-at-home mom, and community volunteer would allow me to rediscover the student services work I performed in my youth in student government, residential life, and as a part of the orientation team.
- Juris Doctor, The University of Alabama School of Law – Tuscaloosa, AL
- Bachelor of Arts, English, The University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa, AL
- Dean of Students, University of Nevada Reno, June 2018 to present
- Assistant Dean, University of Nevada Reno, April 2016 – June 2018
- Interim Assistant Dean, University of Nevada Reno, March 2015 – April 2016
- Program Specialist, University of Nevada Reno, January 2015 – March 2015
- Sanctions Coordinator, University of Nevada Reno, August 2014 – December 2014
- Assistant City Attorney/Special Agent to the State Attorney, City of Tampa, October 1999 – October 2000
- Paralegal/Assistant State Attorney, State Attorneys Office, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (FL), October 1997 – October 1999
Awards & Activities
- Author of blog and publication, Sister In The Shadow
- Student Services Division Blog submission
- Student Services Division Research Group, Spring 2016 to present
- Student Services Division Book Writing Group, since Spring 2016 to present
- Keynote Speaker, Black Graduation Celebration, May 2016
- Student Services Briefing Team, Spring 2015 to present
- Student Intervention Team, Spring 2015 to present
- Interim chair Fall 2016, Spring 2017 and Summer 2017
- Title IX Coalition, Spring 2015 to present
- Deputy Title IX Administrator, Spring 2015 to present
- Athletics Department Drug Testing Program Resource Group Member, Spring 2015 to present. Directs Safe Harbor Program, when needed, for student athletes.
- Faculty Senate Academic Standards Committee, Spring 2015 to present
- Violence Against Women’s Act Campus Coalition Member, Fall 2016 to present
- NevadaFit Skills Sessions Presenter, Fall 2015, 2016, and 2017
- Food Services Committee, Fall 2017
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by opportunities to connect people and ideas. I am most excited when the connections and collaborations meet needs, fulfill visions, or implement programming for the benefit of the community. I love it when people who may not know each other or have familiarity about the giftedness of the other can collaborate to accomplish outcomes that overshoot their initial expectations.
What characteristic do you most admire in others?
If you could host a talk show, who would be your first guest?
If I could host a talk show, my first guest would be Oprah.
What was your crossroads moment?
The decision to leave the workforce and become a stay-at-home mom was a major crossroads moment for me. I passed the Alabama State Bar in 1991 and decided to take the Florida Bar in 1999 so that I could return to the practice of law and live the life of working lawyer mom. Soon after becoming licensed and sworn in as an assistant state attorney, I realized the strain of working long hours without the support of family or trusted childcare after the day care and school closed. I resigned from my job and went home to face the feelings of loss, disappointment, confusion, and aggravation with what felt like a forced withdrawal from the career I loved. Now, years later, I own that decision and count it one of the greatest blessings in my life. My children (and many of the children in the communities in which I lived) became my greatest work product.
What’s the greatest bit of advice a mentor has given you?
I have had some amazing mentors in my life. One of my mentors, Mike Segawa, told me that, “Heroics have limits!” I think his statement was the cousin of the mentor statement from Phyliss Craig Taylor that I would be fine as an assistant dean in the conduct office as long as I “was ok with never being caught up and never being ahead.”
What would you most regret not having done by the end of your life?
I will be most regretful if my mom’s side of the family does not have another family reunion before I die.
What is the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
The coolest thing I am working on right now is a social media campaign that will involve community members from all demographics of our campus.
This interview is part of a series entitled Our Division. Our Stories. that seeks to highlight some of the outstanding members of the Division of Student Services at the University of Nevada, Reno. For more information, please contact the Student Services Development and Engagement Committee.