ST. PETERSBURG - Tampa Bay business icon Tom James, executive chairman of Raymond James Financial Inc., and his wife, Mary, have made a substantial gift to support the sciences at Eckerd College.
The College's newest construction, a 55,000-square-foot science building, opening Jan. 31, will be named the James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences in their honor.
"Tom and Mary James' generosity has realized the College's goal of providing state-of-the-art biology and chemistry facilities for its faculty and students," said Dr. Donald R. Eastman III, president of Eckerd College. "We are pleased that the most visible structure on campus will bear the James name and serve as a reflection of Tom and Mary's twenty-five-plusĖyear affiliation with Eckerd and their commitment to the value of a liberal arts education."
The James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences is the centerpiece of Eckerd's $83 million comprehensive campaign, Many Experiences, One Spirit, which concluded in June 2011. The Jameses' capstone gift enabled the College to surpass its original goal of $30 million, raising $35 million for the new science building and renovations to existing science facilities.
"A liberal arts education is the best preparation for life and business, as well as fosters creative imagination," said Mr. James. "Mary and I are delighted to be part of the Eckerd community where training in the sciences within the context of the liberal arts leads students to great discovery, a key characteristic of a successful college-graduate-turned-educated-professional."
Mr. James joined Eckerd College's Board of Trustees in 1985, serving as secretary from 1986 to 1988 and as vice chair from 1990 to 1991. He is executive chairman of Raymond James Financial, Inc., and chairman of its subsidiary Raymond James & Associates, Inc. He served as chief executive officer of Raymond James Financial for 40 years from 1970 to 2010.
During their longtime affiliation with Eckerd, Mr. and Mrs. James established the Tom and Mary James Professorship in Finance and have provided 320 scholarships through the Robert A. James Memorial Endowed Scholarship and the Raymond James & Associates Annual Scholarship.
"Eckerd College is proud to claim Tom and Mary James as its own," said Grover Wrenn, chairman of the Many Experiences, One Spirit Campaign. "Their contributions, as well as those of Raymond James Financial, to St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area have extended numerous opportunities to Eckerd students and alumni. The couple and the company have been a model for enlightened philanthropy and a great part of the Eckerd College story."
The grand opening celebration for the James Center for Molecular and Life Sciences is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. The public will be invited.