ALMA — In recognition of the philanthropic legacy of Thomas Andison, a former member of the Alma College Board of Trustees who passed away in April at age 86, Alma College will dedicate the Thomas Andison Chapel at a ceremony during Homecoming festivities, from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 30.
John Wirt Dunning, a 1904 graduate who is the only Alma College alumnus to serve as president of the institution, will be honored through the naming of Dunning Hall, a residence hall for upperclass students in the area known as South Campus.
“Tom Andison was a great friend to Alma College and we are profoundly grateful for his passion for Alma and commitment to its future,” President Jeff Abernathy said. “Alma College’s longstanding affiliation with the Presbyterian Church and Tom’s strong core of faith were one of the biggest commonalities of our relationship, and as such, I can think of no more fitting honor than to name our chapel for him.”
Andison served on the Alma College Board of Trustees from 2013-22. He was chair of the Investment Committee and granted emeritus status in fall 2022. In addition to his service on the Board, Andison supported Alma generously: as a former college professor, he was especially passionate about supporting teaching and learning.
“I had the good fortune to be seated next to Tom at my first meeting as a trustee in 2014. I quickly came to appreciate his intelligence, kindness, and humility. As chairman of the board, I relied heavily on his wise counsel and friendship,” said Darryl G. Schimeck ’82, chairman of the Board of Trustees. “I can think of no more fitting tribute to his memory than to name the chapel in his honor. He was indeed a true Scot.”
In 2002, Andison provided funding to create the Andison Center for Teaching Excellence, in order to ensure support for the work of Alma faculty. Since then, it has supported a wide variety of professional development activities, including but not limited to mentoring new and early-career faculty members, faculty participation in on- and off-campus workshops to explore new pedagogical approaches and collaborative efforts to create supportive learning environments. Each spring, outstanding faculty work is recognized and honored with the presentation of the Andison Awards for Teaching Excellence.
“In my interactions with Tom, what stuck out to me was his genuine concern for faculty — to make sure we had the support and resources to do what we do best, both in terms of our ability to guide students and to pursue our scholarly agendas,” said Deborah Dougherty, the Gunda S. Kaiser Professor of Spanish and director of the Andison Center for Teaching Excellence. “He recognized, even without having been an alum, that one of the core tenets of Alma is the relationships that are fostered here, and I think that’s remarkable.”
Andison’s leadership made possible the establishment of the new Greg Hatcher Learning Commons, which serves as the heart of Alma College’s campus and the physical home of the Andison Center. Andison also helped lead the 2021 chapel renovation project and established two endowed scholarships — one in honor of his parents, and one in his name — to provide perpetual support to students.
“Tom led with wisdom and experience,” said David Chapoton ’57, who served with Andison as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2019. “I was assigned to help mentor Tom on the Board of Trustees, but I think I learned as much from him as he did from me. He was a good friend who did more good work behind-the-scenes than we know about. This is a fitting tribute for a very fine person.”
According to an obituary published by Pollack-Randall & Marysville Funeral Homes, Andison received undergraduate and M.B.A. degrees from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. A native and longtime resident of Michigan’s Thumb area, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army from 1960-62 before teaching business at the college level in Iowa. He moved to Port Huron in 1969 and spent 44 years as a stockbroker, including more than 20 years managing the local A.G. Edwards office.
Andison was a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church of Port Huron, where he served faithfully as an elder, church treasurer and president of the corporation. He was interested in all things Scottish, having traced his ancestry back to 1728 Scotland, and was a member of the St. Andrews Society of Detroit.