Calhoun elected president of Chicago State University

Vice President for Enrollment Management Thomas Calhoun speaks at a campus event November 2012. Chicago State University named him its new president Oct. 8. His placement is effective Jan. 1.

The Chicago State University board of trustees named UNA’s Vice President of Enrollment Management Thomas Calhoun the president of the university Oct. 8.

The university sought a new president in hopes of increasing the university’s enrollment, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

“One great chapter is over and another is about to begin,” Calhoun said. “I have many bittersweet feelings about this. I am tremendously excited. However, I will miss UNA and all the wonderful students here.”

He said seeking a presidency had nothing to do with a desire to leave his current position. He said he thinks his time at UNA helped hone the skills he needs to lead a university.

“My time at UNA has been five of the most gratifying years of my entire career,” he said. “The right opportunity just came at this time. I bring what they need at this time and they have what I need to fit there.”

Calhoun said attaining a presidency has been a goal of his for many years, but he never thought he might achieve that position until about 10 years ago.

“I may have at times questioned if it was a feasible goal,” he said. “In the last 10 to 15 years, I became very focused not necessarily in a presidency, but on growth in my career. (When) I was moving into senior administration and thinking more institutionally. It became clear that a presidency was a reachable goal.”

Calhoun has decades of experience in both university administration and K-12 education. He said he believes in his time here, he has become a more strategic thinker and better leader.

While his current position is directly related to enrollment management, he said the positions he’s served in at other universities have all been related to enrollment. However, he never held the vice president for enrollment management title until he came to UNA.

Calhoun’s position as president of Chicago State University begins Jan. 1. He said he will finish the semester at UNA, then move north.

Interim Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Vincent Brewton said he worked with Calhoun for about five years.

“Everyone is excited for a colleague who has an opportunity to be a president,” he said. “It’s the summit of the academic pyramid. This is a tremendous acknowledgment of his experience and ability that he is chosen as a university president.”

While Calhoun is a southern native, he said he spent many years in Chicago when he was younger. He moved to Chicago for graduate school and bought a home there after graduation. He said he decided to keep his home in Chicago after he moved.

“I sort of maintained a life in Chicago,” he said. “Moving there for this presidency is like going on home in some ways.”

His sons and grandsons still live in Chicago, and he said he is excited to be close to them again. With the quick turnaround time from his position at UNA to the presidency in Chicago, Calhoun said he is glad he previously lived there.

“I won’t experience a sort of culture shock like I would if I had lived here my whole life,” he said. “I have an advantage because I know my way around Chicago. It’s exciting. It’s a relief.”