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Photo by Joshua Barrett, Student photographer

Thomas University presented awards to four of its outstanding supporters during the annual Forbes Society Dinner held Thursday, Feb. 7, at Glen Arven Country Club in Thomasville. Pictured are (from left) Dr. Andy Sheppard, TU president; Marthalene Hancock, recipient of the Vicey Harris Award; Elizabeth Wight, recipient of the W. Cameron Forbes Award; and Philip Leabo, recipient of the Ambassador’s Award and representing the Singletary Foundation, recipient of the President’s Award.


TU honors outstanding supporters at Forbes dinner

Thomas University held its annual Forbes Society Dinner honoring its donors, supporters and scholarship recipients on Thursday, Feb. 7, at Glen Arven Country Club in Thomasville. The university presented four awards in recognition of the recipients’ service to TU.

During the event, TU student Lawton Carter spoke about the opportunities he’s received thanks to the scholarships made possible by the generosity of TU’s supporters. Then Dr. Andy Sheppard, TU President, presented the Forbes Society Awards.­­

The Ambassador’s Award was presented to Philip Leabo, Jr. This award is given to individuals in appreciation of exceptional volunteer commitment to Thomas University.  These individuals’ selfless contribution of their time and energy has been vital to the activities of the University.

In presenting the award, TU President Andy Sheppard talked about how Leabo introduced him to community leaders when he first became president in 2016. Sheppard also thanked Leabo for his service as a TU Trustee.

The Vicey Harris Award was presented to Marthalene Hancock. This award recognizes an individual for unique service to Thomas University during a critical time in the school’s history.  This award is named in honor of Vicey Harris, whose initial gift of $10,000 began the Birdwood College fund, setting the foundation for Thomas University.

Marthalene Hancock and her late husband, Dr. Charles I. Hancock, established the Cora Williams Hancock Endowment in 2013 in honor of Dr. Hancock’s late mother, who was a high school teacher in Thomas County. His mother was also part of the group of Primitive Baptists who supported the establishment of Birdwood Junior College, which is now Thomas University. This endowment funds a scholarship for TU education majors.

In 2018 Marthalene Hancock wanted to see the endowment grow so that it would benefit more TU students. For Mother’s Day that year, instead of gifts for herself, she asked family members to donate to the endowment.

The W. Cameron Forbes Award was presented to Elizabeth Wight. Over the years, she and her late husband, Johnny Wight, owners of Wight Nurseries in Cairo, donated plants to TU that still thrive on its campuses today. In presenting the awards, President Sheppard noted that Wight Park, located along Pinetree Boulevard on TU’s Forbes Campus, is often used as a backdrop for photographs because of the beauty the Wights’ plants provide.

Receiving the President’s Award was the Lewis Hall and Mildred Sasser Singletary Foundation. This award is given to a corporation or foundation that consistently supports the Thomas University mission and that has consistently fostered the continued growth of all aspects of the University.

The Singletary Foundation has been a long-time supporter of Thomas University. Philip Leabo, grandson of the Foundation founders, accepted the award on behalf of the Singletary Foundation. It provided funds for scholarships and seed money for the Defense Acquisition University certification courses that TU began building and implementing in 2018.

Education that Engages... Empowers... TRANSFORMS

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