He currently is the Chairperson of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).
Prof. Tom is the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare (UFH), a position he held from 2008 to 2016 having been a Deputy Vice- Chancellor in the same University from 2006-2007. He served on the staff of the UFH between 2005-2006, first as Director of the School of Public Management and Development and as Acting Dean in the Faculty of Management and Development.
A medical doctor by profession he holds a MB ChB degree from the University of Natal, a Master of Family Medicine, (University of Witwatersrand) and a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management (University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies). He did a Senior Executive Program with Harvard and Wits Business Schools.
Prior to joining the UFH he served as Director-General of the Eastern Cape (1998-2004), Advisor to the Eastern Cape Premier for a few months in 2004 and as the Strategic Manager in the integration and transformation of the apartheid departments of health that formed the Eastern Cape, and as the first Permanent Secretary for Department of Health and Welfare in the Eastern Cape (1994-1997). He previously practiced in both the public and private health sectors as a clinician. His academic career started in 1992 when he joined the then UNITRA Medical School’s Department of Family Medicine in Mthatha.
Prof. Tom played a pivotal role in the anti-apartheid health struggles and the health policy formulation for the democratic South Africa. He served as President of the National Medical and Dental Association in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s then became President of the South African Health and Social Services Organization until the democratic dispensation in 1994 when he joined the public sector as a strategic manager in the Eastern Cape Department of Health and Welfare.
He has served in various boards including the Eastern Cape Socio-economic Coordinating Council, Board of the IDT, Masibumbane Development Organization (focusing in health and education), Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development, and Higher Education South Africa. He has served in various committees for the Ministry of Higher Education and Training, namely The Ministerial Working Group on Fee-Free University Education for the Poor in South Africa, the Ministerial Committee on the Review of Higher Education Funding and the Ministerial Transformation Oversight Committee. He is a board member of the Council for Higher Education (CHE). He serves in the Healdtown High School Alumni Board. He matriculated in the school in 1972.
He still actively participates in public health research and training. His main interests are in health and education, especially on quality, equity and access. He is currently involved with the Albertina Sisulu Leadership Program in Health (Partnering UFH, UP, HSPH and South Africa Partners). He previously participated as a member of a training team constituted by Harvard School of Public Health on Ministerial Leadership in Health assisting senior management personnel in various African countries to develop and implement health reforms. He is the Chairperson of the Masibumbane Development Organization and Deputy Chairperson of the DG Murray Trust. In 1994 he received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights.