In 1999, Dr. Thomas Lynch, faculty emeritus of biology, started donating a portion of every paycheck to create an endowed scholarship in his and his late wife Debbie’s name to benefit biology students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Lynch has watched the Tom and Debbie Lynch Biology Scholarship continue to grow over the past two decades. He has continued to donate to it every month even after retiring from the university in 2014.
Lynch has made a lifelong commitment to helping the science and math students at UA Little Rock and sees the value in long-term efforts to help them gain a college degree.
“The university was very good to me. I worked hard the whole time I was there as did the university community and students, so the scholarship was a mutual benefit for everyone,” Lynch said.
Now in retirement, where he spends a large amount of time as an “amateur chef,” Lynch is giving back by encouraging math and science education through his work on the Dean’s Science Council.
Council members advocate on behalf of the UA Little Rock College of Arts, Letters, and Sciences and garner community support for science programs. Their efforts include raising funds for faculty and undergraduate research, the Fribourgh Award receptions, and the Science Olympiad.
“I have always wanted to stay active in the university,” Lynch said. “I still have an office on campus that I visit often. The Dean’s Science Council is another great opportunity to stay involved. I want to promote science and math and be involved in raising money and awareness.”
Lynch is especially looking forward to helping with the Fribourgh Award Reception, which is named in honor of Lynch’s friend and colleague, the late Dr. James H. Fribourgh, UA Little Rock professor emeritus, who served the university for more than 45 years as chair of Life Sciences, interim chancellor, vice chancellor for academic affairs, and distinguished professor of biology./p>
“He was a wonderful man,” Lynch said.
Lynch joined UA Little Rock in 1978. During his career, he also served as associate dean of the College of Science and Math and interim chair of the Department of Math. He has previously served as a board member and past president of the Arkansas AIDS Foundation.
As a professor, he always encouraged his students to gain practice by giving research presentations at conferences.
“I think one of the highlights of my career was having students make scientific research presentations,” he said. “Our college would always take a bunch of students to the Arkansas Academy of Science. It was really a fun time.”
For today’s students, Lynch advises them to get into the lab and complete an undergraduate research experience with a faculty mentor if they want to be successful.
“This is where students really learn if they want to be a research scientist or not,” he said. “The more experience you can get, the better biologist, physicist, or chemist that you are going to be. If you are going to apply to graduate school, research experience will be very important on your applications.”