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Charlotte alumnus makes gift to West Va. State University
Fred Thomas gift goes to learning center
Published Thursday, September 6, 2018 1:00 pm
by Jack Bailey | Special to The Charlotte Post

A gift from Fred Thomas Jr. of Charlotte, right, will establish a learning center at West Virginia State University, his alma mater. WVSU President Anthony Jenkins is on the left.

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University has received a significant financial commitment from a 1950 alumnus who lives in Charlotte.

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 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. 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 was 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, 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 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.

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