Pitt-Bradford Gets $1 Million Bequest

Issue Date: 
December 1, 2008

The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (UPB) has received a $1 million bequest from the late Agnes L. Thomas, a resident of Bradford for more than 50 years who passed away in August 2007 at age 95. UPB will use the bequest to attract an additional $1 million in endowed scholarship funds through the newly established Agnes L. and Lewis Lyle Thomas Scholarship Challenge.

“This bequest was a very pleasant surprise for all of us at Pitt-Bradford,” said Livingston Alexander, UPB’s president. “Needless to say, we’re delighted that Mrs. Thomas saw fit to leave this generous gift for our institution.

“The scholarship challenge comes at a crucial time, as many students are struggling to come up with the funds to cover college expenses. Mrs. Thomas would have been pleased to know that her generous gift will give rise to a number of new scholarships and an expansion of existing scholarships.”

The challenge will allow donors to double the amount of gifts between $5,000 and $50,000 to new or existing scholarships. The gifts must be paid within five years to be eligible. For example, a $5,000 gift pledged over five years will yield a $10,000 gift to endow a scholarship or add to a scholarship fund.

“Given the current economic conditions that students and families are facing, scholarships have never been more important in assisting students to continue with their education,” said K. James Evans, UPB’s vice president and dean of student affairs.

“Sometimes a small amount of money can go a long way, resulting in the difference between a student remaining in college or having to withdraw for financial reasons. Individuals who choose to endow a scholarship at Pitt-Bradford see great returns on their investment in the form of graduates who become productive and
contributing members of the workforce and society.”

Agnes Thomas was born and grew up in Pitcairn, Pa., graduating from Pitcairn High School. She married Lewis Lyle Thomas in 1937.

Agnes Thomas graduated with honors from the Pittsburgh Academy Business School and worked in Bradford as an executive secretary at Dresser Manufacturing Company and later for physicians Gordon Huff and Edward Roche.

“Mrs. Thomas was very generous with local churches and organizations,” said Alan Gordon, executor of her estate and her accountant for more than 20 years. “She had a great interest in children and was impressed by the letters of appreciation written by past and current scholarship recipients.”

Lewis Lyle Thomas, who died in 1969, was an engineer for the former Bradford Motor Works.

This is the second major scholarship challenge at UPB in recent years.

In 2002, the Reed-Coit Scholarship Challenge raised $2 million for scholarships through the bequests of sisters Dorothy H. Reed and Berdena Reed Coit.

Karen Niemic Buchheit, executive director of institutional advancement and managing director of the Bradford Educational Foundation, said, “Most of our major gifts have been through bequests, which is an extremely popular way to benefit a charity and leave a legacy.”

Taking note of “the phenomenal support we receive from the community,” Alexander stated, “Our friends and supporters see the good that comes out of our campus and want to see it continue.”