$1.5M Gift to Create Biomedical Lab at YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A $1.5 million gift from Eleanor Watanakunakorn will establish a biomedical research lab for the College of Science, Engineering and Mathematics at Youngstown State University. The donation also pushes the We See Tomorrow fundraising campaign past its $100 million goal.

“All of us at YSU thank Mrs. Watanakunakorn for her generosity and continued support of the university and our students,” President Jim Tressel said in a statement.

The endowment will support students performing undergraduate research in biological and biomedical fields for the YSU Summer Undergraduate Research Program. At the end of the eight-week program, all participating students are required to give a presentation during a symposium.

Watanakunakorn has a long history of philanthropy in the Mahoning Valley, including the creation of the the Chatrchai and Eleanor Watanakunakorn Scholarship in 2008, which provides a one-year renewable scholarship for YSU pre-med students accepted to Northeast Ohio Medical University.

She also received an honorary doctorate from the Rootstown medical school, where her late husband taught. Dr. Chatrchai Watanakunakorn was the first infectious disease specialist in Youngstown and spent 22 years working at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. 

In 2014, Eleanor Watanakunakorn was honored as Outstanding Philanthropist by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Mahoning-Shenango Chapter.

The gift is also the final step in the We See Tomorrow campaign, which hit its $100 million goal 18 months ahead of schedule. Started in 2014, the campaign led by the YSU Foundation was designed “to elevate the academic stature of YSU, increase access for students through additional scholarship aid, and enhance the living and learning environment of campus to embrace the technological advancements in the 21st century.”

“It is with gratitude we acknowledge and thank those generous donors who helped us reach this impressive goal ahead of schedule,” said Jocelyne Linsalata, campaign chairwoman. “We have developing conversations with numerous potential additional donors to the campaign, and we look to embrace those individuals and the opportunity they present by the conclusion of the campaign in June 2021.” 

A press conference Jan. 29 will outline the campaign’s achievements and identify the remaining areas of focus through July 1, 2021.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.