Marshall president establishes scholarship in memory of parents

Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation; Ellen Castro, director of philanthropy at the Marshall University Foundation; and Dr. Jerry Gilbert, president of Marshall University.

January 28, 2019

The Marshall University Foundation, Inc. has established a fund known as The Tommy and Elizabeth Gilbert Scholarship. Marshall President Jerome A. “Jerry” and his wife Leigh Smith Gilbert established The Tommy and Elizabeth Gilbert Scholarship in January 2019 in memory of President Gilbert’s parents.

Gilbert said he could think of no better way to honor their memory than by providing opportunities for students living in the states his parents loved most.

“My parents were natives of Helena, Arkansas. After leaving Helena, they lived briefly in Louisville, Kentucky, but spent most of their adult lives in Jackson, Mississippi. Both of my parents were life-long Methodists and were known for their warmth and generosity,” Gilbert said. “As a way to celebrate their life and the positive impact they had on me, we established this scholarship to give tomorrow’s leaders the opportunity to find happiness and success just like my parents did.”

Thomas J. “Tommy” Gilbert, Sr.  and Elizabeth A. Gilbert were married in 1945 in Detroit, Michigan, and had three children of whom they were extremely proud: Thomas J. “Jeff” Gilbert, Jr., Jerome A. “Jerry” Gilbert and Jill Gilbert Massey. Tommy Gilbert was a self-made businessman who owned two sequential furniture businesses in Canton, Mississippi: Gilbert Wood Products, Inc. and Gilbert and Ryan, Inc. Elizabeth was a secretary in her younger years and was a life-long volunteer and church member her whole life.

“I am confident my parents would be proud to assist in supporting a student in need and this scholarship in their memory will be a way for that to happen,” Gilbert said. “My parents were incredibly supportive of me and my siblings, and I hope that this scholarship will provide a similar level of encouragement to students at Marshall.”

The recipient of the one-time award shall be a full-time undergraduate student who has financial

need per standards of the Office of Student Financial Assistance. First preference to a student from West Virginia. Second preference to a student from Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky or Ohio. 

For questions about a student’s eligibility for the Tommy and Elizabeth Gilbert Scholarship, please contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance.