Buckner, Thompson, Thrift

Submitted photo/Buckner image courtesy of Evansville Museum of Arts, History & Science

Indiana State University has announced the Distinguished Alumni Awards honorees for 2022.

They are Dr. George Washington Buckner, John Thompson and Paul Thrift.

They will be recognized Nov. 4 at the annual President’s Dinner with the University’s philanthropy award honorees. Buckner’s award is posthumous.

“We’re incredibly happy to honor these three alumni who not only have had highly-accomplished careers but also a record of community service,” ISU President Dr. Deborah J. Curtis said in a news release.

Presented annually since 1957, the Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have made significant achievements professionally and within their communities, locally and globally.

Dr. George Washington Buckner Buckner became the first Black diplomat to a foreign country in 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson appointed him U.S. minister and consul general to Liberia.

Buckner was born a slave in Kentucky in 1855. He attended school in Indianapolis and graduated from the Indiana State Normal School, now Indiana State University, in 1871. While teaching in Vincennes, he went to Indiana Eclectic Medical College and graduated in 1890. He practiced medicine in Evansville and founded the Cherry Street YMCA.

Buckner’s time as a diplomat lasted less than two years because of health problems. He returned to Evansville and practiced medicine and became a civil rights activist. Buckner died in 1943 at age 87.

John ThompsonThrift Construction, Thompson is responsible for the overall direction of the company, including preconstruction, construction services, and field operations. He founded Thompson Thrift with partner Paul Thrift in 1986 while he was a student at Indiana State.

Since then, Thompson and Thrift have expanded the business into a highly-regarded full-service real estate development and construction company.

Thompson has served on various boards, including Boy Scouts of America, Terre Haute Children’s Museum, National Association of Home Builders Construction Council, Executive, and National Multifamily Housing Council Design and Construction.

Paul ThriftAs CEO of Thompson Thrift Development, Thrift oversees the company’s asset portfolio and new market opportunities. He founded Thompson Thrift with partner John Thompson in 1986 while he was a student at Indiana State. Under their leadership, the business has grown into a nationally-recognized full-service real estate development and construction company.

During his tenure as its CEO, Thrift has successfully guided Thompson Thrift Development through the competitive real estate marketplace while expanding its portfolio to include multifamily, industrial, and commercial mixed-use developments across the country.

He is an active community member, having served on multiple boards and committees, including the Indiana State Chamber, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, the ISU Foundation Board and the Scott College of Business Dean’s Council.

Because of his dedication to the community and Thompson Thrift, Thrift was recognized in the Indiana Business Journal’s Top 250 list this year.

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