Dr. Jim Pearson & Dr. Shirley Forbes Thomas Retire from JBU

Siloam Springs, Ark (May 9, 2002) — John Brown University announces the retirement of Dr. Jim Pearson, professor of engineering, and Dr. Shirley Forbes Thomas, dean of undergraduate studies and director of the Honors Scholars Program.

Dr. Jim Pearson has been a member of the engineering faculty at John Brown University for 42 years, giving him the longest teaching career in JBU history. He came to JBU in 1959 as an instructor and later served as the chair of the division of engineering and technology from 1976-1995. In 1986 he was honored as the JBU Teacher of the Year, and in 2002 he received the JBU Faculty Excellence Award. Dr. Pearson has received many honors and awards for his work in engineering, including DOE/ Solar Energy Research Institute Faculty Fellowships in 1982-1984 for work on solar-thermal power plants, NASA Summer Faculty Fellowships in 1977-1978 and an NSF Educational Grant in 1970. Some of his work in the JBU engineering division includes compiling An Anthology for Technology and Society, developing a junior-level design laboratory course, and developing or revising several other courses. Dr. Pearson was instrumental in gaining professional accreditation for the JBU engineering division in 1996.

In addition to his service at JBU, Dr. Pearson has also been very active as a church and community volunteer. He currently serves on the board of directors of New Life Ranch and the board of directors of Earth Mission. He also served on the advisory board of Siloam Springs Parks from 1995-2001. Dr. Pearson has led many intercultural service trips, including trips to Pakistan, Venezuela, Panama, Belize and Ecuador.

Dr. Pearson and his wife, Melly, have four children and nine grandchildren. Upon retirement, Dr. Pearson plans to spend this summer traveling to North Carolina, Minnesota and Eastern Europe.

Dr. Shirley Forbes Thomas came to JBU in 1969 as a professor of English. She was named JBU Teacher of the Year in 1985, and she became the first recipient of the JBU Distinguished Professor Award in 1998.

During her 33 years at JBU, Dr. Thomas has helped to develop many special academic programs, including the JBU Irish Studies Program and the Council for Christian College and Universities' Oxford Honours Programme at Oxford University, UK. Under her leadership, JBU's chapter of the Alpha Chi National Academic Honor Society has been awarded "Star Chapter" status for the past six years. Dr. Thomas was instrumental in the development of the JBU's nationally known Honors Scholars Program, and she has served as the director of the program since 1988. She currently serves on the national executive board of the National Collegiate Honors Council, and she has served as a consultant to 11 colleges and universities.

Dr. Thomas has been married to the Rev. Loyd Thomas for 46 years, and they have nine children (ranging in age from 13 to 44) and six grandchildren. She and her husband were the co-founders of Washington County's APACT (Adoptive Parents and Children Together).

Upon retirement, Dr. Thomas plans to work part time as a consultant in higher education and fundraising for Thomas-Forbes Limited Liability Company, the company she and her husband founded. She also plans to work on her poetry and spend time with her children and grandchildren.

Both Pearson and Thomas were recently honored at the annual JBU employee recognition banquet.

John Brown University is a private university with an enrollment of over 1,600 students from 45 states and 33 countries. JBU is a member of the Arkansas Independent Colleges and Universities and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

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