Dr. Shirley Forbes Thomas Distinguished Professor Endowed Scholarship


Type: Endowed

Donor: Anonymous

Established: 2005

This scholarship was created in honor of Dr. Shirley Forbes Thomas, Distinguished Professor of English at JBU.  Dr. Thomas came to JBU as a professor of English in 1969.  She served as Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Director of the Honors Scholars Program.  In 1985 she was named the JBU Teacher of the Year.  In 1998 she became the first recipient of JBU’s new Distinguished Professor Award.  In addition to presenting and publishing in the scholarly world, she coached numerous students who presented papers and competed in scholarly writing contests.  She nominated eleven students for regional, national, and international scholarship paper competitions.  Of the eleven nominated, seven received first place awards, 1 second, and two honorable mentions.

Her post-graduate degrees were from the University of Arkansas where she was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa National Honors Society.  Her undergraduate degree was from the University of Central Arkansas where she received one of the first two honors degrees ever granted by the institution.  Instrumental in founding the JBU Honors Scholars Program, Dr. Thomas served as director of the program from 1988 until she retired.  She was active in the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), served on the Semesters Committee and helped design NCHC semesters in the Czech Republic, Greece, Spain, and numerous US locations. She also helped design and facilitate NCHC honors faculty institutes both abroad and in the US.  She also served on the National Executive Board of NCHC.  Under her leadership, JBU’s chapter of Alpha Chi National Academic Honor Society was awarded “Star Chapter” status and was one of four nominees for top chapter in the nation.

Dr. Thomas was married to Lloyd Thomas and was the mother of nine children.  She and her husband were co-founders of Washington County’s APACT (Adoptive Parents and Children Together).  With the exception of one semester, all of her college and professional education were attained after she had children.  Dr. Thomas officially retired in 2002 from JBU, although she continued to write grants for the University until 2008. Dr. Thomas passed away in 2020.