For Bill and Dan Thorndike, supporting higher education is a family thing. "It was ingrained in us," says William (Bill) Thorndike Jr. He and his brother, Dan, are carrying on the tradition begun by their father, Bill Sr.—a former member of the SOU Foundation Board and founder of Medford Fabrication, the family business. Today, Bill Jr. is chairman and president of the company, and Dan is general counsel and corporate secretary.
"SOU creates the educated professionals in the Valley who provide accounting and other services," says Bill. And although the job market is not currently strong, Dan, who serves on statewide workforce councils, says there will come a time soon when the economy improves and local employers will need to hire educated workers again.
"Also, look at what Southern has birthed in the way of culture in our community," says Bill. The Institution attracted talented faculty and supporters who developed great cultural assets. "I don't think it was luck that Angus Bowmer created the Shakespeare Festival or that the Schneiders funded the art museum. It was because there was a college." The Thorndikes and Medford Fabrication have been strong supporters of the Center for the Visual Arts (CVA) and the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center (HEC) in Medford.
"The HEC fulfills the proper role of SOU," says Dan. "It supports Rogue Valley-based education." He adds, "It's also a great facility, and it has been great for downtown Medford. I'm looking forward to teaching nonprofit law in the HEC this June."
Although the Thorndikes are longtime supporters of local higher education, it's not their only interest. Bill is board chair of the Oregon Health Fund and Pacific Retirement Services, and he is a board member of the Northwest Area Foundation, Asante Health System, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon Community Board, and the Oregon Business Council. He is also a Port of Portland Commissioner. Dan's board and commission memberships include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Endowment, Healthy Kids Now, United Way of Jackson County, Associated Oregon Industries, the Oregon Water Resources Commission, and the SOU Foundation.
Bill and his wife, Angela Littlefield, and Dan and his wife, Joan '87, also personally support many local charities and nonprofit organizations.