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UC to Bestow Highest Honor to ‘Mr. Bearcat’


Thomas “Tom” Humes was named “Mr. Bearcat” when he graduated from UC in 1971, but his contributions to the university didn’t end there. The former chairman of the UC board of trustees will receive the university’s highest award during its spring Commencement ceremonies.

Date: 4/28/2016 12:00:00 AM
By: Rachel Richardson
Phone: (513) 556-5219

UC ingot  
Studio portrait shot of Tom Humes

No one exudes school spirit for the University of Cincinnati quite like Thomas “Tom” Humes.

In his long tenure at the university, the UC alumnus and former chairman of UC’s Board of Trustees has served on numerous boards and committees and been festooned with nearly every award the university has to offer.

On Saturday, April 30, he’ll earn yet another honor when he is awarded the university’s highest award, an honorary doctorate, during the spring Commencement ceremonies

Humes will receive an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree at the ceremony set for 2 p.m. in Fifth Third Arena. 

Humes’ long association with UC dates back nearly 50 years when he entered the university’s College of Business seeking a bachelor’s degree in marketing. In 1970, the 21-year-old interviewed in front of a panel of five people for the honor of being named the UC mascot, then known as the Bear.

He landed the role, going on to regale crowds and lift spirits from within the stifling furry suit with its fiberglass head that offered poor visibility.  When he graduated in 1971, Humes was named “Mr. Bearcat” (UC’s outstanding male graduate), a role he would continue to exemplify in the decades to come.

Humes went on to work in the President’s Office under then-UC President Warren Bennis, where, in 1977, he helped lead the university’s transformation from a municipal institution to a major research-oriented state university and member of the University System of Ohio.  That same year, Hume earned a master’s degree in marketing and media communication from UC’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.  

Hume went on to found Traditions Building & Development Group, now one of the top real estate development and homebuilder firms in Greater Cincinnati. The award-winning business has developed more than 4,000 acres of land into more than 35 residential communities in Greater Cincinnati and Dayton. The company’s first apartment and condo community, the Village at Stetson Square, is located near UC’s campus.  

The Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati named Humes its “Developer of the Year” in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. He received the Carl H. Lindner Medal for Outstanding Business Achievement in 2007, followed by the Distinguished Achievement Award from UC’s Department of Real Estate in 2000.

In 2009, the Spirit of Construction Foundation honored Humes with a “Lifetime Achievement” award. That same year, he also received the “People of Vision” award from the Prevent Blindness Ohio organization.  

Through the decades, Humes continued to give of his time and talents to his alma mater. He is a past president of UCATS, co-chaired UC’s Campaign for the Campus and served on UC’s Board of Trustees from  2004 to 2016, the last two of which he led as chairman.   

Humes is the recipient of virtually every award UC has to offer, including the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, William Howard Taft Medal, UCF Chairman’s Award, Lindner Outstanding Business Achievement award, President’s Award for Excellence, Order of the Black Blazer and the Niehoff Urban Builder award.

Humes serves on the boards of directors of US Bank and Reading Rock. He previously served on the board of the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority, Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, University of Cincinnati Foundation, UCATS and the Metropolitan Growth Alliance.

Humes lives in Wyoming, Ohio, with his wife, Marty. The couple have two grown children, Jamie and Scott.