Mary Thomas Prappas
Mary Thomas Prappas was raised in the Cedar Rapids community by her parents Mike and Helen Thomas. While her parents had little formal education or financial means, they encouraged Mary to get a college education, in an era when not many women did so. She was the first in her family to earn a degree, graduating from the University of Iowa in 1949 with a business degree.
An active member of the Greek community, she met her future husband while at a convention of Greek Orthodox students in 1948. Her husband, Dempsey J. Prappas, received his bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in 1949 and then later received a law degree from the University of Texas. They married in 1953.
They have lived in the Houston, Texas, area for years. They raised one son, James, a prominent Houston attorney. Dempsey had his own law firm from 1964 to 1989.
The Prappases are supporting two faculty chairs in their estate plans. The Mary Thomas Prappas Chair in Business Ethics will be in the UI Tippie College of Business and is the first chair named solely for a woman. Her husband, Dempsey, is providing support for the Dempsey J. Prappas Chair in Constitutional Law in the UI College of Law. When discussing her chair, Mary stated, "It is important that students develop a conscience in business. They need to be aware of ethics and of the consequences of unethical behavior on others' lives."
Their interest in ethics is what led them to set up the Mary Thomas Prappas Business Ethics Essay Competition. They are also providing support for a similar essay contest within constitutional law in the UI College of Law.