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Honoring a life of scholarship and service

Cornell professors change lives, and few have changed more than The Rev. Richard Thomas, professor emeritus of history, chaplain emeritus, and college historian. Thomas, who’s better known as “Rev,” taught at Cornell for 29 years, and has stayed active in the college community since his retirement. He taught generations of Cornellians to love history, and now, with a gift from his family in his honor, his influence will continue.

Fred Cann, Ellen Thomas, Nancy Thomas, The Rev. Richard Thomas, Jan Thomas ’80, Eric Doernhoefer ’13 and Gary Doernhoefer.

John Thomas, Ellen Thomas, Nancy Thomas, The Rev. Richard Thomas, Jan Thomas ’80, Eric Doernhoefer ’13 and Gary Doernhoefer.

Thomas’ children, led by his daughter Jan Thomas ’80, endowed the Richard H. Thomas History Scholar Award for off-campus research. The award will allow students with financial need to do historical research off-campus.

In a heartfelt speech at the college’s annual Homecoming Convocation, Thomas thanked his children, expressed how proud he was of all they’d accomplished, and said he was humbled to have an award that would allow students to flourish named in his honor. He also expressed his pride in the many students he’d taught.

“I’m proud that the values of Cornell have taken root in so many of you,” he said. “You have achieved honors not just for yourself, but for all who have shared their wisdom and passion with you. That’s what faculty do. Thank you for letting me be a part of that journey—I loved every minute of it.”