Thomas was compelled to set the fundraising example for various reasons. He and his wife, Linda Thomas, have a history of philanthropy as it relates to education, Fluker said. The president serves on the board of the Seattle-based Marguerite Casey Foundation, a private, independent grantmaking foundation.
In addition, Thomas became president amid furloughs and budget cuts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. So it was important for him to send a strong message to employees that he is willing to give up part of his pay, Fluker said.
“I would not ask others to endure sacrifices that I am not willing to endure myself,” Thomas said in July when announcing that he would make the contribution.
Shortly after making the $50,000 pledge, Thomas wrote a check for the full amount, and it was deposited into the university’s account, Fluker said.
That was not the only contribution Thomas made to the university, Fluker said. In July, he contributed $800 to help CSU win $15,000 in a social media competition involving other HBCUs. He’s also paid $500 to become a lifetime member of the university’s National Alumni Association.
The university has leveraged Thomas’s contributions to the institution to get corporations and individuals, including alumni, to contribute, Fluker said. Nationwide Insurance, for instance, gave $100,000 to the university, and 20% of the money must go toward a lab in the computer science department. The remaining 80% is unrestricted, so a portion of the money may go to the presidential scholarship fund, she said.
In addition, Chase Bank donated $20,000 for the College of Business and Student Affairs Career Center initiatives.
Mark Hatcher, chairman of the Central State Board of Trustees, commended Thomas for setting the tone and encouraging others to contribute to the university. Successful giving starts with leadership, Hatcher said.
“This leadership by example has encouraged all of us in Marauder Land to step up and support the university,” he said. "Now more than ever, financial contributions are critical, given the current climate, reduced funding and overall student needs. We are extremely proud of what Dr. Thomas and his team have accomplished so far and we are looking forward to the realization of his bold vision.”