Dr. Thomas W. Cole Jr.


Former West Virginia State University President Dr. Thomas W. Cole Jr. Passes Away

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
April 15, 2022
Former West Virginia State University President Dr. Thomas W. Cole Jr. Passes Away

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – Former West Virginia State University (WVSU) President Dr. Thomas W. Cole Jr., who led the institution from 1982-1986, passed away on April 14.

“Dr. Cole was a true leader in higher education and left a lasting legacy at a number of institutions, including West Virginia State University that has impacted generations of students,” said WVSU President Ericke Cage. “The thoughts and prayers of the entire Yellow Jacket family go out to his wife, Judge Brenda Cole, and the entire Cole family at this difficult time.”

Cole served as the eighth president of WVSU. During his administration he made several organizational changes in the institution creating new academic divisions and establishing a planning and advancement unit. Cole left West Virginia State in 1986 to become Chancellor of the former West Virginia Board of Regents. The Cole Complex on WVSU’s campus is named for him.

Cole was born the second of four children to Eva and Thomas W. Cole, Sr. on January 11, 1941, in Vernon, Texas. The Cole family moved to Marshall, Texas, where his father was appointed President of Wiley College from 1958 to 1971. During his childhood, Cole attended public school and was an active Eagle Scout.

Cole graduated from high school in 1958 and attended Wiley College where he was active in the Kappa Chi and Alpha Kappa Mu Honor societies. Graduating summa cum laude from Wiley College in 1961, Cole received his bachelor’s degree and the Southern Regional Fellowship. Cole attended the University of Chicago and earned his doctorate degree in organic chemistry in 1966.

Cole began his professional career in 1966 as an assistant professor at the Atlanta University Center, in Atlanta, Georgia. During his tenure, Cole would serve as chairman of the department of chemistry between 1970 and 1979; the Fuller E. Calloway Professor of Chemistry between 1969 and 1979; Chair of the Atlanta University Center chemistry department; and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs between 1979 and 1982.

Cole returned to Atlanta to accept a position as president of Clark College in 1988, and led the oversight and planning for the consolidation of Clark College and Atlanta University. Cole served simultaneously as president of both institutions during the 1988-1989 academic years until his appointment as President of Clark Atlanta University in 1989. Cole continued to serve as president until 2002.

After retirement, Cole lived in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Judge Brenda Cole.

Follow West Virginia State University on Facebook, Instagram @wvsu_official, and Twitter @WVStateU.
West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
- WVSU –
Scroll to Top