Julius B. Thomas, a long-time professor of counseling at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, California, died on July 9. He was 61 years old.
A native of Chicago and the son of an elementary school teacher, Thomas joined the U.S. Air Force before enrolling at Riverside City College. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Riverside, where he majored in psychology and sociology and played basketball.
After earning a master’s degree in educational counseling and guidance from California State University, San Bernardino, Thomas joined the counseling staff at Rio Hondo College in 2001. Pver more than two decades, Thomas counseled thousands of students.
In 2021, Thomas was awarded the prestigious Higher Educator of the Year Award from the National Education Association for championing faculty and student rights. He also received the James Davenport Memorial Award from the National Council for Higher Education for his dedication to the higher education community. He was the first African American to win both of these prestigious awards.