Alachua couple’s ‘unrestricted’ gift will boost COE’s areas of greatest need

University of Florida alumnus Joe Thigpen and his wife, Rebecca De Marie, of Alachua, Fla., have pledged an estate gift of $200,000 in unrestricted funds that will “advance the ambitious and transformative goals of the UF College of Education,” according to COE Dean Glenn Good.

“Unrestricted gifts like these are very important because they allow us to quickly respond to time-sensitive opportunities and support promising initiatives that lack other funding sources,” Good said. “The generous support of donors such as Dr. Thigpen and Rebecca enables us to help educators become more effective.”

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1966, Thigpen went on to earn four more degrees at UF, including a master of science in education (1970); a master’s in education (1971); an Ed.S. (1974); and a Ph.D. in education (1974).

He said he established The Thigpen and De Marie Memorial Trust Endowment Fund because of an “overwhelming feeling of appreciation” he carries for UF and the COE.

“As I matured and became successful in the business world, it dawned on me how valuable my education was to my development and awareness about people and learning,” said Thigpen, who lives just outside Gainesville in Alachua. “My success as a management consultant was built upon a solid foundation, and now that I’m entering my retirement years, it seems natural to give back in some small way to the UF College of Education.

“Becky and I are delighted that the COE assisted us in formalizing this gift,” he added. “We feel like we’re making a difference now, even though the actual gift will kick in later.

Thigpen has been a consultant to a number of individuals at high-profile corporations, including Larry Webb, CEO of The New Home Company in Aliso Viejo, Calif; and Andy Wright, chairman emeritus of National Community Renaissance, or CORE, a non-profit affordable housing development agency headquartered in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Wright said Thigpen helped him and his business partner grow their companies to include a work force of more than 400 employees and $1 billion in net worth.

“Thanks to Joe and his ability to help people by listening carefully to what their dreams are, I’ve achieved things far beyond my wildest dreams,” Wright said.