OXFORD – Fifty years is a long time to be at the forefront of an industry, but business visionary Thomas W. Colbert’s legacy began as Mississippi’s youngest bank CEO in 1968 and led to his founding the state’s first bank-holding company in 1977. And he keeps leading, now as senior chairman of the board for Community Bancshares of Mississippi Inc.

To mark Colbert’s golden anniversary in banking, Community Bank has expanded his legacy with a gift of $340,000 to the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration. New initiatives at his alma mater bearing his name will provide educational opportunities for emerging young entrepreneurs and business students.

The surprise announcement was made at a dinner in Jackson.

“We are so honored to make this contribution to pay tribute to our visionary leader,” said Charles W. Nicholson Jr., president and CEO of Community Bank. “I always think of Thomas as an extraordinary entrepreneur who just happens to be a banker. He has done so much for the community, his friends, family and the entire staff at Community Bank.”

The Thomas W. Colbert Lectureship in Venture Capital and Entrepreneurial Finance Endowment will provide funds to recruit and retain faculty members to the business school’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Annual income from the endowment can be used for salary supplements, research and creative activity support and more.

The Thomas W. Colbert-Community Bank Innovation Award Fund will underwrite an annual $5,000 prize to a student entrepreneur venture team for an outstanding venture driven by innovation in a product, process or service through the application or development of a technological change.

The judging panel for the annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition, the marquee event for the CIE and business school’s academic year, will determine the winner.

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