Scholarship Endowment Honors Legacy of Late Engineering Alumnus

John Slocum
John Slocum

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 26, 2020) — In life, John Slocum was revered as a tireless engineer, a steadfast friend and devoted father. Following his untimely passing in February, his colleagues chose to carry on his legacy by generating a lasting impact toward what he held most dear – a college education.

Recently, KSU’s Division of University Advancement announced an $815,500 gift from multiple donors affiliated with Kennesaw-based Freedom Electronics LLC to establish the John Slocum Memorial Scholarships in honor of the late Southern Polytechnic State University alumnus who co-founded the company.

The scholarships will support students pursuing an undergraduate degree in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. A portion of the gift will create additional scholarships for students pursing an engineering degree who are also accepted into the KSU Journey Honors College. The Honors scholarships are bolstered by an ongoing 150 percent endowment matching program, which was established by the KSU Foundation and Rosemary and John Brown earlier this year. The matching funds will result in a total endowment amount of $1,288,750 for the John Slocum Memorial Scholarship Fund, generating an ongoing annual distribution which will support multiple scholarships across KSU’s engineering college in perpetuity.

Rod Smith, who founded Freedom Electronics with Slocum and two others in 1998, said his longtime friend went to great lengths to ensure those around him had a chance at a college education. A Marine veteran, Slocum worked to pay his own way through school while seeking a degree in electrical engineering technology. He and his wife, Dianne, raised two sons, Steven and Tony, who earned engineering degrees from their father’s alma mater.

“John valued education tremendously,” Smith said. “At Freedom Electronics, he was instrumental in establishing an employee tuition reimbursement program. If you needed it, he was determined to provide it.”

Slocum, who Smith regards as the best and most productive engineer he has ever met, built a reputation of working long overnight shifts to complete projects. Having originally met while Smith was completing a co-op, the two eventually served as business partners for more than 22 years. Under their guidance, Freedom Electronics, which rebuilds of electronic petroleum equipment, POS terminals and printers, found success with an international customer base.

"In life, John Slocum was a fantastic engineer and an excellent model of what we hope all of our engineering students aspire to be," said Ian Ferguson, dean of the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. "We are honored that his legacy will continue right here at his alma mater through this generous scholarship endowment and very much look forward to seeing this gift enrich the lives of Georgia's next generation of engineers."

When determining how best to pay tribute to Slocum, Smith said he and his business partners considered many options before arriving at the scholarship endowment.

“I can’t think of a better way to honor his memory than to see students receive an education because of this scholarship,” he said. “This is the type of impact he would have wanted.”

– Travis Highfield

Photo submitted


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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

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