News & Events

Texas Couple Creates Endowed Business, Law Chairs at University Of Iowa

Mary T. and Dempsey J. Prappas of Houston, Texas, have committed resources to create two permanently endowed faculty chairs at the University of Iowa.

The Mary Thomas Prappas Chair in Business Ethics will support the teaching and research of a faculty member in the UI Henry B. Tippie College of Business who specializes in business ethics. The Dempsey J. Prappas Chair in Constitutional Law will similarly support a constitutional law expert on the UI College of Law faculty. The gift commitments establishing the Prappas Chairs were made through bequests to the University of Iowa Foundation and the Iowa Law School Foundation.

The Prappases' parents were Greek immigrants who came to this country with very little formal education and limited financial resources. They encouraged their children to receive a college education. Mary Thomas Prappas is a native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and a 1949 UI business graduate. She taught at the college and elementary school levels in California, Illinois and Houston for several years, and has been active in the Greek Orthodox Church and arts organizations in Houston.

Explaining her motivation for establishing the chair that is named for her -- the first chair in the UI business college to be named solely for a woman -- Mary Prappas cited her interest in promoting ethical practices among future business leaders.

"It is important that students develop a conscience in business," Mary Prappas said. "They need to be aware of ethics and of the consequences of unethical behavior on others' lives."

Dean William C. "Curt" Hunter of the UI Tippie College of Business said the chair will be an important part of the college's future.

"With the Mary Thomas Prappas Chair, the UI Tippie College of Business will be able to strengthen its position as a leader in the field of business ethics and will be able to attract nationally prominent faculty," Hunter said. "We are extremely grateful for the Prappases' generosity and commitment to our students' futures. Alumni like Mrs. Prappas are crucial partners for our college."

Dempsey Prappas is a Michigan native who earned a B.A. degree in political science from the University of Michigan in 1949 and a J.D. degree from the University of Texas in 1953. He is a World War II veteran whose infantry division landed at Utah Beach. In September 1944, he was critically wounded in Alsace Lorraine and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He started the pursuit of his college education in September 1945 and went on to a distinguished law career.

He was managing senior partner of his own law firm for 25 years before becoming vice president and general counsel for Texas Olefins Company and, simultaneously, of counsel at the Houston law firm of Butler Binion.

Dempsey Prappas said his deep respect for the U.S. Constitution inspired him to establish the Dempsey J. Prappas Chair in Constitutional Law.

"The Constitution is the cornerstone of our nation," Dempsey Prappas said. "It's wonderful to know that there will be lawyers from the Iowa Law School standing up for our Constitution who were inspired by a professor who holds a chair in my name."

Dean Carolyn Jones of the UI College of Law said the chair will bolster the UI's reputation as a leader in constitutional law.

"Thanks to Dempsey and Mary Prappas' generosity, generations of UI law students will receive a world-class education in constitutional law here at Iowa," Jones said. "We are delighted that Mr. Prappas chose the UI for establishing such a vital legacy."

The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university, and acknowledges the Iowa Law School Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit the UI College of Law. For more information, please visit the UI Foundation's Web site.


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