Mabee Foundation Honors Judge Thomas Brett, Longtime Board Member and OU Alumnus

July 20, 2021

The $2 million gift establishes the Judge Thomas Brett Endowed Scholarship Fund to aid in the recruiting and retention of students at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma Foundation has received an impactful $2 million gift from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation Inc. to create an endowed scholarship for OU College of Law students. The namesake gift was made in memory of the Honorable Thomas Brett, an OU Law graduate. The Mabee Foundation seeks to honor Judge Brett, one of its long-serving trustees and an Oklahoma federal judicial icon, with its donation.

“Judge Brett’s decades of service on the federal bench were guided by his ethics and the swift but fair administration of justice,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “This remarkable gift from the Mabee Foundation not only pays tribute to his character, it will help ensure that the College of Law remains competitive as it thoroughly prepares students for the real-world experiences they will face as lawyers.”

Judge Brett began his career as a Tulsa County prosecutor and a trial attorney before being appointed in 1979 to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma by President Jimmy Carter. Brett was a retired colonel of the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General Corps and past president of the Tulsa and Oklahoma County bar associations, a former member of the OU Board of Regents, and a former trustee of both the Oklahoma Bar Foundation and the Mabee Foundation. His relationship with the Mabee Foundation spanned 40 years, serving as a trustee for 18 of those years.

The scholarship endowment agreement allows the dean of the OU College of Law and the college’s scholarship selection committee to determine each year how best to use the funds, which could include recruitment or retention for students from Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas.

“This scholarship allows us to honor Judge Thomas Brett’s integrity, humility, professionalism and charity –all characteristics we hope are reflected in our students,” said OU College of Law Dean Katheleen Guzman. “The Mabee Foundation’s generosity affords access to a premier legal education to students committed to the justice and fairness marking Judge Brett’s work, and will make a significant difference in the lives of those to whom the scholarship is awarded. We are so grateful.”

Upon his retirement from the federal bench, Judge Brett became a recognized expert in mediation and arbitration. He received numerous awards in the areas of ethics, legal excellence and professionalism and served on the College of Law’s Board of Visitors until his death.

The Mabee Foundation was formed in 1948 by Missouri natives (and Oklahoma residents) John and Lottie Mabee. John, who did not complete high school, and Lottie were hard workers, innovative entrepreneurs and shrewd investors. Starting with nothing, they built an impressive business and were gracious and generous as they shared their financial blessings with others through various forms of philanthropy. John and Lottie, who had no children, formed the Mabee Foundation in 1948 and ultimately both left the bulk of their estates to the Mabee Foundation.

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