Thomas not typical

Michael Thomas, assistant professor of art, helps Steve Wasson, senior graphic arts design major, with a typography task.

Michael Thomas, assistant professor of art, helps Steve Wasson, senior graphic arts design major, with a typography task.

Hannah Hamill

Typical male professors at Missouri Southern generally wear slacks, a button up shirt and a tie.

Mark Thomas, assistant professor of art, with his tattoos, earrings, shorts and a T-shirt is not typical.

Having recently joined the MSSU faculty, Thomas is excited about the graphic design program on campus.

“It’s more up to date, the students are great,” he said. “It reminds me more of my home.”

Home, for Thomas, is Frewsburg, N.Y.

He and his wife, Tacie, have three children; Liam, 19 months old; Soren, 4; and Daniel, 16. Daniel is one of many foster children that Thomas and Tacie have taken in over the last six years.

After teaching for seven years at Edinboro (Penn.) University in graphic design, Thomas decided it was time to make a new move in his life and career. He chose to head south to be closer to his wife’s family, but was eventually led him to MSSU instead.

One reason he wanted to come to Southern was to be somewhere greener.

“I got tired of shoveling snow,” he said.

He also had academic reasons for coming.

“I wanted to work with smaller schools,” he said. “To build the graphic design area and make it better.

“I love working and interacting with the students. I learn just as much from them as they do from me.”

Thomas doesn’t believe students should focus on getting good grades as much as exploring their own ideas and talent.

“That’s where you get your knowledge and experience,” he said. “Think outside the box.

“Don’t be afraid to fail.”