Q&A: Grateful Alum Gives Back to Truman Students
More than 150 of Truman State University’s most generous alumni and friends have arranged an estate or planned gift in support of Truman and have become members of the University’s legacy society—the Joseph Baldwin Society.
Dr. Ronald Thomas ’65 and Mrs. Ann Thomas of Vestavia, Alabama, documented their planned gift after creating the Dr. Ronald E. Thomas Endowed Scholarship with a cash gift to the Truman State University Foundation. This scholarship is now providing meaningful annual support for deserving Truman students.
Ron reflects on his career and his decision to support Truman both today and in the future through charitable giving.
Q: When you graduated from Northeast Missouri State University more than 50 years ago, what were your goals?
A: To get a teaching job, to try to make a difference in the lives of my students and to enjoy life. Since then, much has changed—including Northeast, now Truman State University. However, in all this time, some things have stayed the same.
Q: As an educator, what did you observe that may surprise those who did not choose a career in education?
A: During the early years of my professional career as a teacher, I noticed high school and college students struggling. They wanted to attend college to have a better life, but they were in dire need of academic, financial and personal support, and did not know how to get the help they needed. As I advanced in my career as a counselor and finally as an administrator, the number of students in this or similar situations continued to grow. Some students wondered how to pay for college, and still others had no idea how to enroll in college.
As I reflected on my own experiences at Truman, I remembered experiencing some of the same challenges as these students. While I will always be grateful for the education I received at Kirksville, I am most thankful to the faculty and staff that helped connect me with college and community resources to help me succeed.
Q: Why did you choose to support Truman with annual charitable contributions?
A: Just as Truman made an investment in me, I wanted to make an investment in the students at Truman. Today, giving financial support to help Truman students is an ongoing part of the Thomas family yearly financial planning. Several years ago, my wife, Ann, and I decided to expand our giving by creating a scholarship endowment to help needy students. What a delight it has been for us to follow up with our student and to send special gifts and support letters to her throughout the year.
Q: You and Ann have also documented a planned gift by naming the Truman State University Foundation as a beneficiary of retirement plan assets. Why did you choose to take this additional step and arrange for Truman to receive an estate gift?
A: On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., I toured the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and found inscriptions for two of my college friends who gave their lives for our country. As I read their names, I reflected on our good times together. I had little awareness of how my college experience would shape my beliefs and actions during my life, and what awaited us. It was bittersweet, but it was also a moment when I felt called to do even more to help the students at Truman by creating another planned gift to help students. It is my intent to create an ongoing, short-term grant program for students who have one-time, emergency financial needs.
Q: As a Truman alumnus, why do you think it is important to give to your alma mater?
A: Investing in the students at Truman is our way to say thank you. More importantly, it helps the students who need and deserve financial assistance. If we want our students to become active participants and contributors to the Truman Giving and Support Network, all of the graduates need to demonstrate their support by making an investment in the future of Truman students.