Brad and Carole Wilson of Raleigh have pledged $3 million to Appalachian State University and the Campaign for Appalachian. Their commitment is the largest made to the university by alumni. The Wilsons, both members of the Class of 1975, are co-chairs of Appalachian’s comprehensive fundraising campaign.
Their gift will establish the Wilson Scholars Program, which will be the most prestigious merit scholarship program at the university and will reflect a commitment not only to academic achievement but also to character, leadership and service. The Wilsons have been engaged alumni since graduation, and they aspire to support student-leaders steeped in the Appalachian experience to make a difference in the world.
“Through Brad and Carole’s vision and generous financial support, Appalachian now has a premier scholarship program, The Wilson Scholars, which offers incredible opportunities for scholarship, research and leadership for those who receive it,” said Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock. Over the years, their commitment to this university and public higher education has been evident in so many ways, and I am honored for the Brad and Carole Wilson Honors and Engagement Community to have found its home at Appalachian.”
To honor the Wilsons for their commitment, the new honors and student leadership and residential hall complex on campus will be named the Brad and Carole Wilson Honors and Engagement Community. The complex was dedicated Friday, March 22.
The Wilson Scholars Program will fund scholarships beginning in the 2014-15 academic year. Wilson Scholars will have the chance to participate in specially designed seminars, engage in international experiences and design capstone projects. A significant component of the Wilson Scholars experience is the participation in service-learning and civic engagement.
“We are fortunate to be able to make this commitment,” Brad Wilson said. “Our Appalachian experience is the reason that we can. We hope that those who will benefit from our commitment will be inspired to give of their time, talents and resources to enhance and perpetuate the Appalachian experience.”
Brad Wilson is president and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. A former chairman of the UNC Board of Governors, Wilson received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from Appalachian’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2005 and the Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2001. He also has served on Appalachian’s College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Council.
“The educational experience extends far beyond the classroom,” said Brad Wilson. “It must encompass opportunities beyond the limits of our imagination. This commitment must be a growing nucleus that will provide scholarship support in perpetuity.”
Wilson hopes that those who become Wilson Scholars will one day be benefactors to the scholarship endowment fund.
“It is important to us that a culture of commitment to giving and caring be instilled in the recipients,” he said. “It is our hope that the students who are the beneficiaries of the Wilson Scholars opportunity will not only change the world and have fun doing it, but that they will invest in the endowment that was the catalyst of their success.”
“I personally know the benefit of financial support,” said Carole Wilson, who received a N.C. Teacher Scholarship Loan that enabled her to pursue her dream of becoming a public school teacher. Following graduation from Appalachian, Wilson taught history in the public schools, worked with students with learning disabilities, and was a private tutor.
“For many students, the Wilson Scholars program will eliminate the financial barrier to a high quality, comprehensive college experience,” she said.
Although she no longer teaches, Wilson continues to influence the lives of children in the Triangle area. She is a member of the boards of the North Carolina Partnership for Children, Safechild, N.C. Museum of Art Foundation, Carolina Ballet, Durham Nativity School and the Action for Children-NC advisory board.
The Wilsons have a long history of service to Appalachian that includes annual leadership gifts to the Appalachian Fund and support of the Yosef Club, Alumni Council, Department of History and the College of Arts and Sciences. The university will leverage the Wilsons’ commitment to secure other gifts that will support the scholars program.
The Campaign for Appalachian is a comprehensive campaign which supports the entire university and will continue through 2014. A total of $153 million has been given and pledged toward the campaign’s $200 million goal.