Dean’s Medalist Lawrence Thomas: ‘The university belongs to all of us’

  • April 11, 2019
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 3 minute read

Lawrence E. Thomas, honored on April 5 as the 2019 Dean’s Medalist, first came to Washington University in the early 1970s, and he’s maintained a strong connection to the university community ever since.

He began his undergraduate study in science, but soon discovered he was attracted to the business school. He switched his major to finance and a summer internship opened doors to a life-long career with Edward Jones.

That internship in 1977 lead to a position in the company’s corporate bond trading department after graduation, where Thomas located corporate bond investments to fit the needs of individual investors. He became a principal of Edward Jones in 1983, and two years later, established its government bond department. Thomas oversaw mortgage-backed trading through 1995 and then joined the financial adviser development. He later became the area leader for the northeast, where he was responsible for the growth and performance of the financial advisors in 13 states.

In January 2000, Thomas assumed responsibility for the syndicate and unit investment trusts groups. Four years later, he rejoined the corporate bond department with responsibility for distributing the group’s newly issued corporate notes. From 2009 through 2011, he oversaw the firm’s financial adviser minority recruiting efforts. In 2013, he assumed his current responsibilities co-leading the university channel for financial adviser career development in talent acquisition.

Thomas has actively supported Washington University and Olin Business School serving as chair of his 10th reunion class and as a leader 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.

A scholarship recipient himself, Thomas began supporting scholarships in 1986. He has established the Lawrence E. Thomas Scholarship, the Wesley Thomas Scholarship and the Lawrence E. Thomas/Edward Jones and Company Scholarship. As Thomas has noted, it was a scholarship that made attending Washington University possible.

“The scholarship was certainly important for me, because I wouldn’t have been able to attend a private university otherwise.”

He expressed his passion about scholarships by saying, “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.”

Thomas also serves on the executive committees of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation, the St. Louis Zoo and the executive committee of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Foundation. He also serves as the past board chair for Provident Inc. and Forest Park Forever.

In addition to his undergraduate degree, Thomas earned MBAs from Lindenwood University and Northwestern University. He also is a graduate of the Securities Industry Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

“The university belongs to all of us, especially those of us who are alums, and the university has done a good job trying to serve its alumni. It’s because of the university that many of us have grown up to be contributing citizens, and grown in our professions.”

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