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Couple's $50,000 Gift to Help Endow Campus Ministry Chair

June 6, 2005

Category: Alumni, Students

Catawba College Alumni Tom and Mary Jo Dennard of Charlotte have made a gift of $50,000 to help endow the Campus Ministry Chair.  The couple’s gift is part of the $500,000 raised to date for this purpose.

Tom, a 1977 alumnus, and Mary Jo, a 1975 alumna, also serve on the advisory committee for the Campus Ministry Chair Endowment effort and Tom is a member of Catawba’s Board of Visitors.

“This early lead gift to endow the Campus Ministry Chair will serve as an inspiration to many,” said Catawba College President Robert Knott.  “Through the years since their graduations, Tom and Mary Jo have stayed involved in the life of the College and have done much to assure that the Catawba they know and loved as students will remain the Catawba that present and future students also cherish.”

The Dennards first met in a religion class taught by the late Dr. King West.  Tom, who majored in business, was a standout basketball player and an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  Mary Jo, who majored in early childhood education, has fond memories of the classes she took under Dr. Martha Kirkland West, a former member of the Catawba faculty.

“Memories of small things become bigger as we mature,” Tom Dennard explained.  “My positive memories of Catawba, which I took for granted, have become much more meaningful over the years.  I remember the Christian education course I took in Pastor Seiwell’s study at 8:00 a.m.  At the time, I didn’t realize the influence he had on my life, but looking back I see he was a rock that was the measuring stick about being a good person.

“Over the years, we have looked for meaningful opportunities to present themselves, such as the Campus Ministry Campaign, opportunities where our funds would be best spent.”

Today, Tom is chief executive officer and president of Laureate Capital, one of the top 20 commercial mortgage bankers in the country.  He oversees a loan portfolio of $7 billion across 43 states.  Mary Jo is a homemaker who enjoys jewelry making and other craftwork.  They are active members of Providence Methodist Church where Tom has served on the Board of Trustees and helped lead a recent campaign fund drive.  The couple has two sons, Taylor, who plans to further his education this fall pursuing a degree in hospitality and restaurant management, and Clayton, who recently graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in criminal justice.

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