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Hu selected 1st Thomas chair of YSU’s economics

YOUNGSTOWN — Ou Hu, who has built a long list of scholarly accomplishments during a 16-year career as a member of the economics faculty at Youngstown State University, has been named the first Paul J. Thomas Chair in Economics at YSU.

“Dr. Hu is one of the university’s most respected scholars and teachers and is much deserving of this tremendous honor,” said Betty Jo Licata, dean of the YSU Williamson College of Business Administration. “We are most grateful to Mr. Thomas’ daughters, Gwen Watson and Janet Shanklin, for their continued investment in YSU.”

The endowed faculty position was created in honor of Paul J. Thomas, a successful Mahoning Valley businessman, through a $1.5 million donation by Thomas’ daughters in 2018.

“My sincerest gratitude to the Thomas family for the establishment of the endowed chair position,” said Hu, who plans to use the endowed position to expand his research and create workshops and a speaker series in behavioral finance / economics. “With great privilege comes great responsibilities. While this position offers a unique and remarkable opportunity to advance my pursuit of research, more importantly it urges me to think what I can do support our academic programs and opportunities at YSU.”

Hu earned a bachelor’s degree in Logistics Management from Beijing Technology and Business University and a master’s degree and PhD in Economics from West Virginia University. He joined the YSU Economics faculty in 2004. With nearly 20 publications and nearly 20 scholarly presentations, Hu has received four Research Professorships at YSU and in 2014-15 received the Distinguished Professorship Award in Scholarship. Also, Hu spearheaded the creation of Joint SAS certificate programs, the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) University Recognition program, and the recent interdisciplinary certificate program in Data Analytics.

YSU now has 13 endowed faculty positions. The positions, which combine a traditional faculty post with enhancements funded from the interest on the principal of the gift to the university, are a major part of the historic $120 million “We See Tomorrow” fund-raising campaign at YSU.

A native of Niles, Thomas was 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. He also was a trustee for many area nonprofit organizations, including the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp., the Mahoning County Library System and the Butler Institute of American Art.

In 1981, Thomas and his wife, Marguerite, established the Paul J. and Marguerite K. Thomas Colloquium on Free Enterprise at YSU. The Thomases also had established scholarships for YSU accounting, finance and economics majors. Mr. Thomas died in 2003, and Mrs. Thomas died four years later.

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