Thomas Holmes, a native of Wilmington, Mass., says the success he’s realized in life is a direct result of his education at the University of Missouri-Rolla. That’s why Holmes and his wife, Joan, set up a scholarship to allow future generations of Wilmington students an opportunity to study in the Midwest.
The original scholarship fund was formed through an endowment created about 10 years ago. Now, the couple has made an estate gift to UMR. The money from the recently announced gift will eventually be used to supplement the Thomas A. and Joan M. Holmes Scholarship, a UMR scholarship that is awarded to students from Wilmington.
“We are very pleased that Tom and Joan have provided for the continuation of their unique scholarship in their estate,” says UMR Chancellor John F. Carney III, who happens to be from Lowell, Mass. “I know the recipients of the scholarship are especially grateful. Now a new generation of students will get an opportunity of a lifetime to study at UMR.”
The scholarship pays for a selected student’s tuition as long as he or she remains in good standing at UMR. Several of the past recipients from Wilmington — many of whom had never previously traveled west of the Mississippi River — have written letters to thank Tom and Joan for their support over the years.
“The scholarship that you have funded has been one of the single most defining things in my life,” wrote John Jason Gillis, who earned a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from UMR in 2005. “I have learned many things, living away from home, that I would not have had the chance to learn as a local student living at home.”
Those words are gratifying to Tom Holmes, who earned a mining engineering degree at UMR in 1950. Holmes credits his mother, the Navy and UMR with shaping his life. He retired in 1988 as chair, president and chief executive officer of Ingersoll Rand Co., a global manufacturer of industrial machinery.
“My success is a direct result of my education and experiences as a student in Rolla,” Holmes says. “Through this scholarship, we want to give new generations of young men and women from the east a chance to get an education at an outstanding Midwestern university.”
So far, about 20 students have embarked on the journey from Massachusetts to Missouri as recipients of the Holmes Scholarship.
“Your scholarship is the direct link to my future success, but indirectly it’s the reason I have formed amazing relationships that will last a lifetime,” Krista Wolfe wrote in a letter to Tom and Joan Holmes. Wolfe earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UMR in 2005.
In another letter from a Holmes Scholarship recipient, Bryan Mather indicated that he feels like it’s his obligation to live up to the scholarship. “It is my hope and dream to give at least one future student an opportunity like you gave me,” wrote Mather, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UMR last spring.
Holmes has served on the governing boards of W.R. Grace & Co., Newmont Mining Corp. and Becton Dickinson & Co. Tom and Joan Holmes currently reside in New Hope, Pa.