ATLANTA — For Thomas Reiman, Georgia State University is the place that gave him a second chance as a college student and the opportunity to get on track for a successful career.
Reiman started college at Tulane where his grade point average slipped below 2.0. He admits that he lacked focus as a student on the New Orleans campus in the late 1960s, but he made his way to Georgia State for a fresh start.
Back in Atlanta, where he’d grown up, everything felt different.
“I had awakened,” he said. “I never missed a class at Georgia State. I saw that everyone was there to earn a college degree. Not to party or sleep in late.”
Tom and his wife, Wendy, are showing their gratitude by establishing The Reiman Family Close the Gap Fund, designed to help juniors and seniors in the College of Arts & Sciences who are making progress toward earning a degree but falling short financially.
Wendy Reiman, a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in speech pathology, said she believes a little extra help can go a long way toward ensuring that deserving students can focus on schoolwork.
“We enjoy paying it forward,” she said. “The students at Georgia State are such stellar students. They are so dedicated and so disciplined. This makes it all worthwhile.”
Tom Reiman earned bachelor’s degrees in English and Political Science from Georgia State in 1971 and went on to law school at Mercer University. He launched his career in Atlanta as an attorney for AT&T. Eventually, he moved back to his hometown of Chicago to work for Ameritech, the parent company of Indiana Bell, as senior vice president of state and government affairs.
After holding various senior leadership positions at Ameritech, he retired in 2000 as senior vice president of public policy. After retiring, he was named a business management professor at Lake Forest Graduate School of Business, where he taught executive MBA students for eight years.
Wendy Reiman taught pre-school for 17 years and said her biggest accomplishment in life has been raising two hard-working, giving and caring children, Amanda and Scott.
The couple are now empty nesters living in Chicago, but Tom maintains a strong tie to Georgia State through his service on the Board of Visitors of the College of Arts & Sciences.
The Close the Gap Fund is the Reimans’ latest effort in a long history of giving. They have also given back through the Reiman Scholarship which supports humanities students at Georgia State.
“Tom and Wendy Reiman are among the college’s most loyal supporters,” said Sara Rosen, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Many of our students have benefited from their generosity, and many more will benefit from the new Close the Gap Fund as they strive to complete their degrees.”
The Reimans feel fortunate that during their time as college students, they didn’t face the financial hardships that many students endure today. So, they decided to make a pledge to the university to establish the Close the Gap Fund. Students who will receive help from the fund may have lost their HOPE Scholarship eligibility due to a drop in grade point average, but they’re still in good academic standing and trying to make progress toward graduation despite the extra financial burden.
“If you’re worried about money for rent or books, who knows what impact that can have on someone’s GPA?” Tom Reiman said. “This is a small way to help. Hopefully this will be enough money for somebody who is in serious financial need and all they need is a little boost. This is going to keep them in college.”
“It’s such a sad state when someone wants to go to college and is short financially just a small amount,” Wendy Reiman said. “If this fund can help correct that, then I think these very hard-working students will be well served by it.”
— Story by Horace Holloman. Photo by Jason Braverman.