Dr. Norma Thomas : CAL U

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The Cal U campus with a tree blossoming in springtime.The Cal U campus with a tree blossoming in springtime.

Dr. Norma Thomas


  • B.A.: Social Work, Pennsylvania State University
  • M.S.W.: Temple University School of Social Administration
  • D.S.W.: University of Pennsylvania


Dr. Thomas began as the MSW program director and associate professor at California University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2007. From 1994-2004, she worked for the Widener University Center for Social Work Education, where she achieved tenure as an associate professor, also holding positions as assistant director and baccalaureate program director. She worked from 1975-1984 for the Delaware County Office on Services for the Aging and from 1984-1992 for the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging. In addition, she was the co-founder and president of the Center on Ethnic and Minority Aging Inc., which began in 1995.

She is the recipient of many community service awards, including: 2008 Hobart C. Jackson Award for service to ethnic and minority elders in the Philadelphia, Pa., region; 2007 Second Place Outstanding President Award at the North Atlantic Regional Conference of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; 2006 Senior Service Excellence Award presented by the Crozer Keystone Health System, Chester, Pa.; 2005 Social Worker of the Year Award, National Association of Social Workers, Philadelphia; 2004 Second Place Good Citizen Award, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., North Atlantic Regional Conference; 2004 Philip E. Coleman Award for Distinguished Service to Project Prepare, Widener University; 2004 Temple University General Alumni Association Certificate of Honor; 2004 Institute of Geriatric Social Work - Boston University, First Career Achievement Award; 2004 National Association of Black Social Workers Widener University Chapter Founder's Award; 2003 Chester Assembly No. 30 Order of the Golden Circle Community Service Award;  2002 YWCA Chester Community Hero Award; 2000 Who's Who Among America's Teachers recognition; and 2000 Pennsylvania Brandywine Division National Association of Social Workers Social Worker of the Year Award.

In 2007, Dr. Thomas was designated as an honorary lifetime adviser to Senior Community Services, Delaware County, Pa. in recognition of her years of service to that organization. She most recently completed her tenure (2005-2008) as a member of the board of directors of the American Society on Aging, San Francisco, Calif., is the immediate past chair of its Minority Concerns Committee, is on the Leadership Council of the ASA Network on Multicultural Aging, is co-editor of the Diversity Currents newsletter, and has served as a trainer and mentor for the ASA New Ventures in Leadership Program.


  • Social Work Practice with the Aging
  • Social Work Practice in Health Care and Health Planning


  • Thomas, N. (2006) When it happens to your family: One social worker's response. Journal of HIV/AIDS Social Services 5(1) 57-66.
  • Thomas, N. (2005) Generalist practice with older people. In Poulin, John (Ed.). Strengths based generalist practice:  A collaborative approach 2nd edition. Belmont:  Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning, 366-397.
  • Thomas, N. (2005). Social work practice with people of color.  In Poulin, John (Ed.). Strengths based generalist practice:  A collaborative approach. 2nd edition.  Belmont:  Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning, 398-430.
  • Cooper, R., Groce, J., and Thomas, N. (2003). Changing direction: Rites of passage programs for African American older men. Journal of African American Studies. 7(3), 3-13.

Research Interests

  • Ethnic and minority aging
  • Cross-cultural practice
  • Social work administration

Service Learning Projects

  • Memory Walk, Alzheimer's Association
  • Treasurer, board of directors, East End United Community Center
  • Board member, Southwest Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging

Favorite Student Story

"Collectively, I have had the privilege of interacting with many students whose life experiences made the pursuit of undergraduate and graduate degrees both unlikely and remarkable at the same time. Some of them have come from abuse situations, poverty, torture in foreign countries, have writing difficulty, but through it all made it to graduation. Many of these individuals I encountered in undergraduate school who went on to achieve their MSWs. Here at Cal U, one student stands out - a woman who retired and then came back to pursue her MSW degree. She often expressed doubts about completing the course of study, but she graduated May 2009 and achieved many honors in the process. I don't give up on students - even when they sometimes give up on themselves." 

Academic Department(s)

  • Department of Social Work

Academic Program(s)

  • M.S.W. Social Work


"The best part of my position at California University is being part of the successful transformation of students into successful social workers prepared to make a difference in the world."

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