Thomas Sutherland, former professor of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University, will be honored on April 29 at the annual university Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner. Sutherland, who was held hostage in Lebanon by the Islamic Jihad for more than six years while serving as dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Science at American University of Beirut, will be honored with the Charles A. Lory Public Service award.
Sutherland has received numerous awards and recognition for his exceptional teaching and educational accomplishments and for his infamous and notable response to his personal involvement in the Middle East crisis. After his release from captivity and return to the United States in 1991, he publicly forgave his captors and, as a professional speaker, lectures extensively on forgiveness, and uses his experience to promote understanding of the crisis in the Middle East.
"Some call Thomas Sutherland a hero for surviving more than six years of captivity, but what he did and continues to do for his community and young people since his release makes him a hero to those of us who know we need to continue to support the development and enrichment of our community," said Kirvin Knox, retired dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State.
Sutherland continues to devote his life to education and the Fort Collins community. He and his wife, Jean, established the Sutherland Family Foundation, which generously supports the Northern Colorado community, particularly the local arts, education and social services. He also has contributed significant funds to local public radio, the Colorado Boy’s Ranch, agricultural scholarships at Colorado State as well as the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, and Crossroads Battered Women’s Shelter.
Since the early 1970s, Sutherland has served the community within the role as a committee member and board member for numerous entities, including the city’s planning and zoning board, the AMC Cancer Research Center, Larimer County United Way, Colorado Boys Ranch and by serving as a chairman of the national Teaching Committee of the American Society of Animal Science.
Sutherland has been recognized for his public contributions with the Multiple Sclerosis Hope Award, distinguished service award from Colorado State as well as several awards for teaching while on the faculty, including the top professor award given by the Colorado State student body. He has also received international awards, including the Award of Merit of the European Animal Research Society, The Hague and the Award Merite Agricole de France.
In addition, scholarships in his name have been established at Colorado State University and the American University of Beirut.
Sutherland received his doctorate from Iowa State in 1958 and joined the faculty at Colorado State shortly after.
The Charles A. Lory Public Service award is given to an outstanding alumnus who demonstrates leadership in helping the university attain a vital balance of teaching, research and service. The people who receive this award demonstrate exceptional and sustained leadership in his or her community, professional field or personal commitments and contribute significant time and talents to the university. The award is named for Charles A. Lory, the fifth president of Colorado State who served for 31 years.