Joab Thomas, a former president of Penn State University, died Monday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He was 81.
Thomas was president of the school from 1990 to 1995, Penn State said in a statement.
"Joab Thomas was a brilliant scholar, a visionary leader and a true gentleman," said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. "His commitment to students was legendary, and he played a critical role in building Penn State into an internationally ranked university.”
Plans for the university’s Bryce Jordan Center began during Thomas’ tenure, the university said. The BJC opened in 1996, just after Thomas’ retirement.
Thomas also oversaw Penn State’s entry into the Big Ten.
The Thomas Building, on the University Park campus at the corner of Pollock and Shortlidge, is named for Thomas.
Thomas is survived by his wife, Marly; four children, and 13 grandchildren.