Thurmond was nominated and approved by the board of trustees as a full board member in spring 2013, and will be confirmed as a member by the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church in mid-June, the university said in a release.
In 1998, Thurmond was elected Georgia Labor Commissioner, becoming the first non-incumbent African-American to be elected to statewide office in Georgia.
During his three terms as commissioner, the Georgia Labor Department underwent a major transformation in customer service and efficiency, according to his office.
In the 1980s, Thurmond was the first African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction.
During his time in the state legislature, Thurmond authored major legislation that has provided more than $250 million in tax relief to Georgia’s senior citizens and working families, according to the release.
Following his legislative service, Thurmond was called upon to lead the 9,000-employee state Division of Family and Children’s Services. He created the Work First program, which helped more than 90,000 welfare-dependent Georgia families move from dependence to independence.
Thurmond, an attorney, is now practicing law with Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer LLP.
Thurmond graduated with honors from Paine College with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion and later earned a juris doctorate from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law. He also completed the Political Executives program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
In 1997, Thurmond became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
The son of Georgia sharecroppers, Thurmond said he is an enthusiastic advocate for public education.
He is a motivational speaker and adviser to state school board association executives in nine Southern states on issues regarding leadership, diversity and public education advocacy in the 21st century.
Thurmond’s latest book, “Freedom: Georgia’s Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865,” was awarded the Georgia Historical Society’s Lilla Hawes Award and the Georgia Center for the Book listed “Freedom as one of The 25 Books All Georgians Should Read.”
He serves on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society.