Andrew Thomson, Jr.


Honorary Degree (1997)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Indianapolis
Presenter: Myles Neil Brand
IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy Award (1994)


In 1992, as the Indiana University School of Medicine was considering its first capital campaign, committee members were worried about whether they would succeed. Andrew Thomson, vice chairman of the campaign, stepped forward. "The question isn't if we should or should not conduct our first capital campaign," he said. "The question is why it took so long to get to this point. Of course, we'll have a campaign, and of course, it will be wonderfully successful."

This scenario, recalled by J. David Smith, associate dean of the lU School of Medicine, exemplifies Thomson's spirited, positive, and energetic approach to all challenges. A native of Gary,Indiana, Thomson enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1942. His studies were interrupted by World War II and his service as a surgical technician. In 1946, his military obligations fulfilled, Thomson returned to Indiana to complete his education, averaging nearly 25 credit hours each semester to earn his bachelor's degree from Indiana University-in only three semesters! Thomson earned the Doctor of Medicine degree from the IU School of Medicine in 1951 and went on to an internship and a residency at the University of Chicago Clinics, where he became an assistant professor of medicine in 1956. After a year of teaching medicine at the University of Washington, he returned to Chicago, teaching at the University of Chicago and at the College of Medicine of Rush University. Dr. Thomson began internal medicine practice at Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital in 1963; he retired in 1993 after a distinguished career in the practice of medicine and in medical education. He was widely respected as a role model for medical students and his articles were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The American Journal of Medicine, and the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Described as a true renaissance man, Thomson is a passionate fan of classical music. As part of his life-long commitment to enhance classical music in the Chicago area, he has served as trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1984 and is currently chair of the symphony's $100 million capital campaign to finance the renovation of the 92-year-old concert halL "As chairman of our capital fund drive, Dr. Thomson has been a dynamo," says Henry Fogel, president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. "This is an unprecedented campaign-perhaps the largest that any symphony orchestra in America has undertaken-and its success is a tribute to the astonishing energy, commitment, even passion that Dr. Thomson has brought to the task."

Thomson's consummate skill in fundraising has benefited Indiana University tremendously, as has his philanthropic leadership. His participation in the recently completed $211 million School of Medicine campaign, according to Dean of the School of Medicine and Walter J. Daly Professor Robert W. Holden, "was essential to the campaign's success." Thomson's "wise counsel, contagious enthusiasm, friendly challenges, and personal contributions" led a campaign that topped its goal of $130 million by more than 60 percent. Holden and others credit Thomson as being the major force behind the support that IU received for the IU Cancer Research Institute. "Simply put," says Holden, "this $22 million building would not have been possible without Dr. Thomson."

A number of awards, such as Citizen of the Year (awarded by the Illinois St. Andrew's Society), recognize Thomson's ongoing community service. He has been on the Board of Overseers of Dartmouth Medical School, the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Institute of Technology, and trustee of the Chicago Medical Society. He continues to serve as trustee of the Bishop Anderson House and board member of the Chicago Night Ministry, a program to take abandoned and runaway children off Chicago streets.