EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is featured in the Spring 2024 edition of The Tartan magazine. Read more from The Tartan at alma.edu/tartan.
In September, following the traditional Homecoming worship and memorial service, the Thomas Andison Chapel was dedicated, in recognition of the philanthropic legacy of a person who supported Alma College in innumerable ways through many years.
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.
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.
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“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 (current) chairman of the Board of Trustees, I relied heavily on his wise counsel and friendship,” said Darryl G. Schimeck ’82. “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 helped a wide variety of professional development activities, including 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 alumni, 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, 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.”