Engaged CSU grad Thomas Hopkins encourages students, alumni to pay it forward

When Thomas E. Hopkins (MA ’82) recently told a group of CSU students that it would one day be their responsibility to give back to the University, he spoke from authority. Hopkins knows a lot about giving back to CSU.

This grateful graduate has served as a member of the CSU Foundation Board of Directors and chair of the Visiting Committee for the College of Sciences and Health Professions. He gives guest lectures, keynotes addresses and other presentations to CSU classes on a regular basis. Hopkins created the Hopkins Family Endowed Scholarship in the College of Sciences and Health Professions, and, with David G. Watterson Jr. ’72,he established the Dr. James M. Schuerger Endowed Scholarship. The recently retired senior vice president-human resources at Sherwin-Williams was largely responsible for forming a CSU Alumni Association corporate chapter there. In 2012 he was recognized with a Distinguished Alumni Award.

Hopkins, who spoke to scholarship recipients and scholarship donors at the spring 2016 Celebration of Scholarship Luncheon, encouraged the students present to pay his generosity forward by supporting the University and future students when they are able.

“We need to recognize that CSU students are often not as well resourced as they need to be. If we can help move juniors and seniors along (toward graduation), we can help build the economic future for them and for the community,” he said. “I often tell people, if CSU didn’t exist, we would have to invent it. It’s that important to the region; it’s that important to individuals. That’s why I support it.”

Hopkins said he is grateful for his education and for the successful career he had. He joined Sherwin-Williams in 1981 as a CSU intern, and early on created a management trainee program that became the talent development engine for the company. The Cleveland-based company now employs more than 40,000 people internationally and 2,800 in Northeast Ohio, about 450 of whom have some relationship to CSU, Hopkins said. He was promoted to senior vice president-human resources in 1997 and retired from that position this spring.

“Our alumni need to understand that we’re going to need them to help future students get internships and jobs and, when they are able, to support the University financially. CSU is a growing and in many cases better place than when we were there and it really deserves our support.”