Thomson R. Bryant
A 1908 graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Thomson “T.R.” Bryant held the position of associate director of the Cooperative Extension Service from its formation in 1910, until his retirement in 1955.
In 1965, Bryant was one of 81 recipients of the UK Distinguished Alumni Centennial Awards. At that time, he was the only recipient who served under every university president. Bryant was again honored by the university in 1978 when he was presented an honorary Doctor of Letters degree at spring commencement.
Following graduation in 1908, Bryant worked as an assistant in the Animal Husbandry Department of the Agricultural Experiment Station.
In 1910, he was appointed to organize and teach the first course in elementary bacteriology in addition to his other work as director.
As associate director, he hired the state's first county extension agent in 1912. Bryant said the greatest achievement has been "to revitalize the attitudes of farm people. They are no longer rustics. The whole thing was to prevent farming people from becoming peasants, as has been the case in older countries."
Bryant was also active in 4-H work throughout the state. Bryant authored of the first publication used for club work in Kentucky. In 1953, he was the third recipient of a plaque for "outstanding contributions to 4-H Club work in Kentucky," given by the UK 4-H Club department.
Some of Bryant's other contributions in agriculture include giving the first hog cholera vaccination and assisting in the building and operation of a laboratory for manufacturing hog cholera serum.
He was a former chairman of the National Association of State Extension Directors and former national president of the extension section of the Land-Grant College Association.
Bryant, instrumental in founding the Kentucky Farm Bureau, served as a member of the board of directors.
An active civic leader, Bryant in 1933, served as chairman of the Lexington Community Fund. In 1934, he served as president of the Lexington Rotary Club and received the Rotary President's Cup in 1978. He was a member of Lexington's Lodge No. 1 F&AM. Bryant was a deacon and men's Bible class teacher at Calvary Baptist Church.
In 1950, he was named Man of the Year in Kentucky Agriculture. In 1967, he was recognized for his contributions to Kentucky agriculture, with the Sullivan Medallion, one of the highest awards bestowed by UK.
While an undergraduate, he played center on the UK basketball team from 1904 to 1906, and managed the school's football team in 1907. He was senior class president in 1908.