Thomases donate $500K for women pursuing STEM

The daughters of the late Mahoning Valley businessman Paul J. Thomas have made another gift to support students at Youngstown State University, this time in memory of their mother, Marguerite Kauffman Thomas.

The Marguerite Kauffman Thomas Scholarship was established through a $500,000 gift to the YSU Foundation for undergraduate and graduate women pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Marguerite's bachelor’s degree in Biology and her years serving on the women's board of the Youngstown Hospital Association reflected her keen interest in medicine.

Gwendolyn Thomas Watson, and her sister, Janet Thomas Shanklin, also made a $1.5 million contribution to YSU in 2018 to create the Paul J. Thomas Chair in Economics.

"Our mother would be proud that her scholarship was advancing the academic careers of women in STEM," the Thomas sisters said. "She fiercely believed in education and the city of Youngstown."

“We are thankful for Gwen and Janet’s unwavering support of YSU and the YSU Foundation,” YSU Foundation President Paul McFadden said. “Their generosity not only honors their parent’s memory but ensures their legacy continues to impact YSU students and the Mahoning Valley.”

In 1939, Paul J. Thomas, born and raised in Niles, Ohio, joined the firm that would eventually become Packer Thomas as a certified public accountant. After World War II, he returned to the Mahoning Valley and went on to a business career of distinction, including work as vice president of Superior Industries and vice president of Easco Corp. He served on the boards of the Ohio Bank Corp., McKinley Bank and WKBN Television and also was a trustee for many area nonprofit organizations.

In 1981, the Thomases established the Paul J. and Marguerite K. Thomas Colloquium on Free Enterprise at YSU. The colloquium offers workshops and lectures by established leaders in finance, business and economics. The Thomases also established scholarships in Accounting and Finance. Mr. Thomas passed away in 2003. Mrs. Thomas passed away in 2007.

For more information, contact Stacy Quiñones at the YSU Foundation at 330-941-3128 or