Skip to content
Thomas Couple Establishes Research Award Endowment
Susan and Sanford Thomas

Sanford and Susan Thomas of Memphis, Tennessee, have made a gift of $50,000 to the University of Mississippi, establishing a faculty research award endowment in the College of Liberal Arts that reflects the value they place on academics.

The Sanford and Susan Thomas Senior Professor Research Award Fund will provide annual support and recognition for senior faculty members in one of our social science departments.

“We hope this award will showcase the great research being done by professors in the College of Liberal Arts’ social sciences,” said Sanford Thomas. “We hope it gives them encouragement to do their best and also helps to garner much-needed support from others for their work.”

A Greenwood, Mississippi native, Sanford Thomas graduated from Ole Miss in 1978 with an undergraduate degree in psychology and now serves on the College of Liberal Arts Advisory Board. Susan Thomas majored in business administration while at the university.

“We both had great experiences with attending Ole Miss, and we felt like it was a good time to give back to the school,” said Thomas.

“From the time I was there as a student until now, the university has grown in numbers and maturity. It’s become nationally recognized as a great value and still has a small-town school atmosphere. People understand it is a serious school that offers a rigorous curriculum.”

Recipients of the Thomas Research Award will be chosen from the departments of Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy and Leadership, and Sociology and Anthropology.

Charles Hussey, associate dean for research and graduate education, said the award will be given to Liberal Arts’ faculty members to recognize continuous exemplary performance in research and scholarship at the national and international levels.

“The ideal recipient will have achieved scholarly recognition and influence well beyond the UM community. This award is an important recognition of distinction for faculty in the designated departments and is a testimony to the success and vibrancy of their academic careers,” said Hussey.

“As a Carnegie R1 highest research activity university, it is important that we publicly recognize and reward our most productive faculty for their sustained efforts in research, scholarship and creative achievements,” said Lee M. Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of psychology.

“The opportunity to showcase the exceptional research conducted by senior professors in social sciences will benefit the College of Liberal Arts and the University greatly. Thanks to Sanford and Susan’s generous gift, we believe the establishment of the Thomas Award will help us elevate our productivity moving forward.”

The Thomas Award augments existing awards the College of Liberal Arts presents in the natural sciences and mathematics and the humanities and fine/performing arts categories. Each award recipient receives a $2,000 cash prize, a medal to wear at graduation, and a plaque.

“Other than a small stipend to those who have excelled in their chosen social science field, the award will hopefully bring attention to my peer group — those professors around my age,” said Thomas, “and perhaps the award will bring in more support toward academics. The University’s Carnegie R1 highest research status is such a big deal; I think anything we can do to help that along will be beneficial for the school’s credibility.”

Tax-deductible gifts to the Sanford and Susan Thomas Senior Professor Research Award Fund can be made by mailing a check with the name of the endowment written in the check’s memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Contributions can also be made online at

For more information about providing support to the College of Liberal Arts, contact Ron Wilson at or 662-915-1755.

By Mary Stanton Knight


Online gifts for the 2024 calendar year should be made no later than noon on December 31, 2024.  Checks by mail will need to be postmarked by December 31 to be counted in the 2024 calendar year.