One of our most touching Homecoming traditions is the awarding of those with Alumni Merit. Alumni Merit Awards have been presented annually since 1958 to Southeast alumni who have brought distinction to themselves and the University.

Each month, we'll take a closer look at this year's recipients and the honor they bring to the University and the impact they've made beyond SEMO. We begin this month, with a look at one of the University communities most dedicated advocate for our veterans.


Thomas M. Meyer is the son of the late Thomas L. and Helen M. Meyer. He was born and raised in Cape Girardeau. After serving overseas during the Vietnam War with the U.S. Navy Seabees, Meyer became a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), American Legion, Seabee Charter Island II and SEMO Vets Corp Alumni.


Meyer graduated from Southeast in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration and a minor in psychology. His wife, Mary E. (Griffith) Meyer is the daughter of the late Art and Ellyne Griffith. She was born in Spokane, Washington, and attended schools in Utah, Arizona and Missouri, before eventually attending Southeast where she met Thomas. She graduated in 1973.

Meyer is the president and owner of Thos. L. Meyer Realty Company, Inc., through which he has been licensed since 1970, with experience in all aspects of real estate. He is a graduate of the Realtor Institute, and is a certified residential specialist, certified international property specialist and certified in probate real estate. He served as state president of the Missouri Association of Realtors in 1995 and the 2001 regional vice president of the National Realtors Association. Mary is the librarian at St. Mary’s Cathedral School in Cape Girardeau.

Thomas and Mary have been great ambassadors for Southeast, in service and generosity. Meyer has served as a member of the Southeast Missouri University Alumni Association, serving as president from 2009 to 2011; the Southeast Missouri University Foundation Board of Directors; President’s Council and Copper Dome Society; the Southeast Missouri Redhawks Club; chapter representative of the SEMO Vet Corps Alumni; and advisor to the SEMO Student Veterans Organization. In December 2011, Meyer was appointed to the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, serving until his term expired on Jan. 1, 2018.

“There are three kinds of people in this world. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened,” Meyer said. “I like to make things happen.”

Of all the accomplishments of his life, Meyer said he is most proud of his family.

“I met my future wife at an off-campus party, while I was home on leave, then went back overseas,” Meyer said. “We wrote every day, and when I got back, we got married, finished school, started work and grew a family.”

Tom and Mary have been married 48 years and have five children: Dr. Heather Ellyne Phillips, Jean Marie Boctor, Thomas Nathaniel Meyer, Dr. Catherine Griffith Meyer and Tara Giroir Meyer, who are all graduates of Southeast; and four grandchildren. The Meyer family strongly believes in Southeast’s commitment to providing a quality education for success.