Though the film favors Wigand, its depiction of Sandefur remains accurate. He was an individual with power and prestige before disagreeing with the company over their use of coumarin.
Defendants contend that other incidents, while possibly rude or offensive, were not directed toward Strickland personally and did not evidence any discriminatory animus.
Early Life and Education
Sandefur hailing from Madill, Oklahoma brought his sense of Western music and culture to campus life with him when taking up his administrative post at Oklahoma State. Country western and pow wow tunes soon started playing from his office while also showing an admiration for American Indian programs at OSU while working closely with its staff.
Additionally, he worked tirelessly to develop an intense focus on allocating scarce resources effectively. When later serving in campus leadership roles, this skill would often come back into play. He scheduled time each month on his calendar to connect with donors, explaining their need and impact of giving. Those who worked with him say his directness allowed him to listen carefully to all points of view while encouraging employees working under him to share their voices freely.
Thomas Sandefur dedicated his entire adult life to tobacco industry work. Beginning his career at 19 and rising through its ranks to Brown & Williamson (then America’s third-largest tobacco company) top executive status before being appointed as its Chairman & CEO, his passion was tobacco products.
He was widely recognized for guiding B&W through its acquisition of American Tobacco and helping develop international brands. Additionally, he held executive positions at RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company where he performed marketing and administrative roles.
In 1994, he was brought before a Senate subcommittee and interrogated by lawmakers for his role in promoting smoking, although he denied its addictive qualities. This event was dramatized in Russell Crowe’s 1999 film The Insider.
Achievement and Honors
Thomas Sandefur is an esteemed demographer and scholar, known for his groundbreaking research that shed light on issues from family structure to poverty in society. Additionally, his academic studies honed an uncanny knack for allocating funding efficiently which served him well later when serving campus leadership positions.
As dean of the College of Letters & Science, he contributed significantly to faculty retention, financial support for students, diversity issues and fundraising and stewarding millions from alumni, friends and foundations to advance UW-Madison’s liberal arts mission. Colleagues attest that he can see all sides of an issue while encouraging those working under him to express their opinions freely.
He will soon return to Oklahoma, taking on a similar role at Oklahoma State, which sits just hours north of his hometown, Madill.
Thomas Sandefur is an active member of Owensboro Christian Church and Ensor Masonic Lodge #729 F&AM in Owensboro. An alumnus of Western Kentucky State College, Thomas Sandefur enjoys fishing, gardening and rooting for Kentucky basketball – two hobbies which he actively practices!
In 1994, Sandefur was among several executives from Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company who testified before Congress and stated they did not believe nicotine to be addictive; however, a former employee named Jeffrey Wigand charged that Sandefur lied under oath during this testimony.
Wigand testified during a pretrial deposition for Mississippi’s lawsuit to recover smokers’ healthcare costs that Wigand heard that Sandefur had stated privately that his company was involved with nicotine delivery services. His interview would later air on CBS program 60 Minutes.
Georgia Southern College awarded Sandefur with his business degree. Following this success, R.J. Reynolds hired him as a salesman, where his talents excelled rapidly on the marketing side. Here he created several massively popular low-tar brands like NOW and Camel Lights; impressed with this performance Brown & Williamson hired him away in 1982 with plans of grooming him as their future CEO.
Contrary to what Arthur Jensen attempted in the movie, real-life B&W CEO Thomas Sandefur tried his best to maintain a relatively low public profile. Though active in various civic organizations and charitable causes, Sandefur kept himself out of the limelight by keeping his personal life private; additionally he was known as an anti-government regulation advocate who staunchly opposed tobacco regulation by regulatory bodies.