Alabama Academy of Honor


Joab Langston Thomas

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1983 and updated in April 2014



Joab Langston Thomas was born February 14, 1933 at Holt, Alabama. He attended Harvard University, earning the B A. degree in 1955; the M.A. degree, 1957 and the Ph.D. degree in 1959.

He was a teaching fellow at Harvard, 1955-1959. He was cytotaxonomist at the Arnold Arboratum of Harvard, 1959-1961. He was appointed Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Alabama in 1961, Associate Professor in 1962 and Professor of Biology in 1966. He was appointed Assistant Dean College of Arts and Sciences in 1964. He was appointed Dean of Student Development in 1969 and Vice President for Student Affairs in 1974.

He was appointed Chancellor, North Carolina State University in 1976 and returned to the University of Alabama as its president in 1981.

He served as director of several organizations: Alabama Association of Colleges and Universities; Alabama State Chamber of Commerce; the University of Alabama Aboratum; Biological Station at Tanglewood; College Football Association; Blount Inc.; and the Gorgas Scholarship Foundation.

He was co-author of four books: Plant Biology Exercises; Wildflowers of Alabama; Adjoining States; and The Rising South. He was either author or co-author of some thirty published papers.

He enjoyed memberships in Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, Alpha Zeta, Alpha Lamda delta, Jasons and Sigma Xi.

He was listed in Who's Who in America.

He married Marly Dukes of Boise, Idaho on December 22, 1954, and they had four children: Catherine, David, Jennifer. and Frances.

Joab Thomas passed away on March 3, 2014