West Virginia State Alumnus Makes Significant Commitment to the University

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
July 3, 2018
West Virginia State Alumnus Makes Significant Commitment to the University
Funds will be used to establish the Fred D. Thomas, Jr. Learning Center of the Future

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) has received a significant financial commitment from a 1950 alumnus to establish a new high-tech learning center for students in the Education Department.

The gift from Fred D. Thomas, Jr. will establish a learning center that will bear his name and feature smart technology to support interactive online instruction as well as group activities and research tutorials. An endowment established as part of the commitment will be used for ongoing maintenance of the center and technology updates.

“West Virginia State University has one of the finest teacher education programs in the country, and our graduates are highly sought after by state and regional school systems,” said WVSU President Anthony L. Jenkins. “With the establishment of the Fred D. Thomas, Jr. Learning Center of the Future this will ensure that our students have access to the latest technology and teaching methods for years to come.”

Born in Abingdon, Va., and raised in Pulaski, Va., Thomas came to WVSU after serving in the military shortly after the end of World War II.

“College was really the beginning of me as an individual,” Thomas said. “I was so excited when I applied to State and was accepted.”

Thomas has fond memories of his days in Institute as a student, including pledging Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He graduated from the University in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and went on to earn a master’s degree in education from New York University.

Thomas served as a middle school science teacher and curriculum coordinator for 35 years for the West Babylon School District on Long Island, where he also volunteered teaching English to non-native speakers. Following his retirement, he moved to Charlotte, N.C., where he continues to make his home.

The Fred D. Thomas, Jr. Learning Center of the Future will be located on the sixth floor of Wallace Hall. Work on the center is expected to begin this fall.

“West Virginia State University’s Education Department is excited and appreciative of this generous donation from Mr. Thomas,” said Dr. J. Paige Carney, dean of the College of Professional Studies. “This gift will allow us to design a state of the art teaching, learning, and technology center to provide optimal learning experiences for our teacher candidates.”

Thomas made his commitment as a bequest naming the WVSU Foundation as the beneficiary of his estate and his retirement benefits. During his lifetime, Thomas has pledged to make substantial annual payments to help launch the center.

For more information on giving to WVSU contact Patricia Schumann, vice president for University Advancement and President of the WVSU Foundation Inc. at (304) 766-3021 or patricia.schumann@wvstateu.edu.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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