Tomsons provide gift to establish endowed professorship
St. Olaf College Senior Regent O. Jay Tomson ’58 and his wife, Patricia McCarthy Tomson ’59, have provided $1.6 million that will be used to endow the Tomson Family Professor in Law and Economics. With matching funds from St. Olaf’s Strategic Initiative Match program authorized by its Board of Regents, this gift will yield more than $2 million in support.
The endowed fund the Tomsons have established will permanently support a professorship within the St. Olaf Economics Department and will enable the college to establish a new law and economics course sequence and add faculty-mentored research opportunities for students.
Economics is the third most-selected major at St. Olaf, and the department ranks in the top 20 baccalaureate institutions in the nation for the number of graduates who go on to earn Ph.D.s in economics.
“An appointment in law and economics will add courses supporting and enriching the economics program,” says St. Olaf Provost and Dean Marci Sortor. “This exciting field drawing on economic theory and legal thought is valuable for students pursuing a range of interests as well as those seeking to engage in the key debates about economic growth. O. Jay and Pat are committed to enhancing the economics program at St. Olaf and ensuring that it continues to be a valuable resource for students. We are very grateful for their deep commitment to St. Olaf and their consistent support.”
The Tomsons have generously supported St. Olaf for more than 50 years. Their largest single gift, a $5 million commitment announced in 2009, helped fund the renovation of St. Olaf’s old science building into a new home for academic, administrative, and student support departments.
In honor of their charitable support to St. Olaf and other institutions, the Council of Independent Colleges recently honored the Tomsons with its 2016 Award for Philanthropy. The award celebrates organizations and individuals whose gifts and service have strengthened independent higher education and provided opportunities and access for students.
A longtime Iowa banker, O. Jay Tomson was elected to the St. Olaf Board of Regents in 1995 and served as its chair from 2006 to 2010. He also has served on the St. Olaf Alumni Board.
A past board member for the Norwegian-American Historical Association headquartered at St. Olaf, Tomson received the prestigious St. Olav Medal from King Harald of Norway in 2006 for “strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their home country.”
In addition to executive banking positions, Tomson’s career has included stints with the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, where he served as director. In 1973 he acquired Citizens National Bank (now First Citizens National Bank) in Charles City, Iowa, that has since grown to become the largest locally owned community bank in northern Iowa. He is past president of the Iowa Independent Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America. For his significant lifelong work in community banking, the Iowa Bankers Association awarded Tomson its James A. Leach Leadership Award.
Pat Tomson is executive director of the First Citizens National Bank Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that provides funding support for charitable, religious, educational, and health care institutions serving northern Iowa. A retired family therapist, she also is a former board member of Lutheran Social Services in Iowa and a past executive director of Parents United in Mason City, an organization that works with dysfunctional families and abused children.