Tom H. Matheny, a 1954 Southeastern graduate, had a long and distinguished record of service to the community and to his church. As an unprecedented six-term president of the World United Methodist Judicial Council, his influence on the future of the many church-affiliated educational institutions has been felt internationally.
"Mr. Matheny is an effective and quiet leader who is always willing to lend a hand when called upon to do good work for others," former Southeastern President Sally Clausen said upon presenting him an honorary doctorate.
On the state and local level, Matheny served on the Council for a Better Louisiana, the American Academy for Political and Social Sciences and the Louisiana Historical Society. He was a tireless advocate for the rights of people with mental illness and served as president of the Tangipahoa Parish Mental Health Association and the Louisiana Mental Health Association.
A strong supporter of Southeastern and higher education in general, Matheny served on the boards of trustees of American University, Centenary College, Iliff School of Theology and Scarritt College. He served as a past president of Southeastern's Alumni Association and a member of the Development Foundation board of directors. The history and government department lecture series during Southeastern's Fanfare arts festival is named for Matheny, who was selected as the 1981 Southeastern Alumnus of the Year.