Larry Thomas grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He first learned about Washington University while visiting St. Louis on a high school band trip. “We stayed on the campus for four days, and I had a really great experience. Afterward, I wondered: 'What if I got in there?'"
A scholarship made it possible, and Thomas is committed to helping talented students benefit from a great education. He began sponsoring an annual scholarship in 1986, and he has established three endowed scholarships at the Olin Business School. He recently established a $1 million challenge to encourage Olin alumni to increase their support for scholarships.
A professor at Olin recommended Thomas for an internship at Edward Jones. It led to a job in the firm’s corporate bond trading department, and he became a partner at Edward Jones in 1983. He also earned MBAs from Lindenwood University and Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg School of Management.
Thomas has been active at Washington University since serving as chair of his 10th Reunion Class and getting involved in the national Black Alumni Council. He is a past president of Olin's Alumni Association Executive Committee, a past chair of the Alumni Board of Governors, and currently serves on Olin's National Council. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award at Founders Day in 1997 and Olin’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. He has completed three terms on the Board of Trustees.
He is passionate about scholarships. “We must continue to make sure that we enroll students here from all economic levels, including those who don't have the financial means to attend. Washington University gave us something we could walk away with, other than just a degree, and we should all give as much back as we possibly can.”
He says, “The University receives a lot of support from the community and its alumni and friends, but it also gives a lot back. Washington University has an important role and responsibility in society, and I think it's living up to that challenge.”