Karen Thomas Named Meadows Diversity Officer

Journalism professor is one of 15 new diversity officers at SMU

Karen Thomas - Inaugural Meadows Chief Diversity Officer
Professor of Practice in Journalism Inaugural Diversity Officer Meadows School of the Arts

Karen Thomas, professor of practice in the Division of Journalism, has been named the inaugural diversity officer for the Meadows School of the Arts and special adviser to the dean. She is one of 15 new diversity officers named in schools and departments across campus who will work with SMU Chief Diversity Officer Maria Dixon Hall as part of the new University Diversity Council.

In announcing the new officers on November 24, Dr. Hall, an associate professor in the Meadows Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs, said, “I am thankful for the opportunity to work with this dedicated group of men and women to begin a new chapter on the Hilltop.”

The school diversity officers will serve as counsel to the deans and administrators leading their respective areas, and will serve as a resource during the search and hiring process of new faculty and staff. Additionally, each officer will serve as the lead trainer for the CIQ@SMU curriculum for their appointed school and unit.

“I am honored and thrilled to help the Meadows School of the Arts, as well as the broader SMU community, work toward creating a more diverse and inclusive campus,” said Thomas.

“It’s a privilege to welcome Karen Thomas into this vital role,” said Meadows Dean Samuel Holland. “Her experience runs both broad and deep. As we seek to build a Meadows community that is ever more inclusive, her commitment to diversity will be matched by a sustained commitment to excellence and the values of the University.”

About Karen Thomas

Karen Thomas is a professor of practice in the Division of Journalism at Southern Methodist University, where she teaches classes that range from beginning reporting to literary journalism.

She has spent more than 25 years in the trenches of daily journalism. She worked as a feature writer for 13 years at The Dallas Morning News, specializing in family issues, narrative writing and column writing. Prior to joining the Morning News, Thomas was a national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and also covered education on a national, state and city level.

Now a freelance writer, Thomas is currently working on a book about her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Her writing awards include the Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons’ Media Award for Excellence, the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism’s Let’s Do It Better! Award and the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ Benjamin Fine Award.

Thomas has been selected a fellow in several programs, including the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the Kaiser Family Foundation Media Fellowship in Health. 

She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in narrative writing from the University of Georgia, a Master of Science degree in journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism/English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.