West Virginia St. honors alumnus with learning center dedication

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Words could not describe how Fred D. Thomas Jr. felt Thursday on the campus of West Virginia State University.

Thomas Jr., a 1950 WVSU alumnus, had the institution’s education learning center dedicated and named after him in front of his peers.

The current Charlotte, North Carolina native made a significant financial contribution to WVSU in 2018 to establish a high-tech learning center for students in the education department.

Thomas Jr. said it was an easy choice to give back to the university.

“West Virginia State gave me so much,” he said to the media. “It opened up my life so I could help boys and girls move forward, get a job, raise a family, and those kinds of things.”

Thomas Jr. was born in Abingdon, Virginia and raised Pulaski, Virginia before coming to WVSU after serving in World War II.

He graduated from WVSU with a bachelor’s degree in biology, followed by a master’s degree in education from New York University. From there, Thomas Jr. served as a middle school science teacher and curriculum coordinator for 35 years for the West Babylon School District on Long Island.

“I came to West Virginia State as a naive country guy and got an excellent education,” he said.
“If they can do that for me, why not me do something that would help others.”

WVSU President Anthony L. Jenkins, WVSU Education Department Chair Patricia Wilson and WVSU education students Deja Smoot and Isaac Cosby all had remarks in front of a packed center.

The center is located on the sixth floor of Wallace Hall and features tools such as state of the art computers, smart televisions, more learning space, and renovated classrooms.

Story by Jake Flatley