Michael P. Thomas Endowed Scholarship
A conversation with Michael P. Thomas
Why did you choose to create a scholarship at Auburn University?
I felt it was the best way for me to give back to Auburn and to provide a small level of financial help to a student from Florida to lessen his/her debt at graduation.
What would you want recipients of this scholarship to know about you or the person(s) for whom it is named?
Although not born in Florida, I have lived in the state most of my life. After four years in the U.S. Navy and Grad School at the University of Florida, I spent a wonderful 28-year career at Harris Corporation, headquartered in Melbourne Fla. The accounting knowledge I gained at AU served me very well in my career. The last 16 years I was the Controller of a $2B business unit, the largest unit of our $5-6B company. I retired in 2010 at age 55 and my wife Rhonda and I are loving our retirement lives.
Tell us about your Auburn story, favorite tradition, a “War Eagle!” moment, or what Auburn has meant to you.
I attended Auburn on a Navy ROTC scholarship. I grew up in a very pro-military family at a time, in the late 60’s, when the military was enduring the unpopularity of the Vietnam war. I chose to go out of state to school because the Florida universities, at that time, had factions that opposed ROTC on campus. More importantly, I knew a few people from my hometown who were attending, or had attended, Auburn and were overwhelmingly positive in their love and respect. My first visit confirmed that I belonged in the AU environment. Like most, I grew to love everything about Auburn and maintain those strong feelings today.
What do you hope your recipients gain through receiving this scholarship?
The cost of attending college, especially out of state, can be daunting to many. I hope this scholarship provides a small bit of help to a student in Accounting/Business, preferably from Florida, become an Auburn person for life. I also hope it will encourage the recipients to give back in some fashion during their working years and beyond.