Downing Thomas has been Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs at the University of Iowa since July, 2008 and is the chair-elect of the Senior International Officers group within the Big Ten Academic Alliance. He has also served as Associate Dean of International Programs and Chair of the Department of French and Italian.
In 2005, Downing was named Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes académiques by the French government. In 2007, Downing was elected President of the Association of Departments of Foreign Language. His publications and teaching have focused on music and opera, theories of language, and aesthetics; including Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Régime (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002).