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Wilson family donates $3 million to athletics and Nasher

Duke announced a $3 million gift to support athletics and the Nasher Museum of Art Tuesday morning.

The donation comes courtesy of the Wilson family—Gary Wilson, Trinity '62 and a former member of the Board of Trustees, and his son Derek, Trinity '86 and Fuqua '90, a current member of the Nasher Board of Advisers. The gift includes $2 million to enhance athletic facilities and $1 million to form an endowment for the Nasher, according to a Duke News release.

Gary Wilson

Sarah Schroth, the Mary D.B.T and James H. Semans director of the Nasher, said that the endowment created by the Wilson family’s donation will be directed toward exhibition research, development and implementation. In the short term, the funds will be used to support a new exhibit being developed by chief curator Trevor Schoonmaker.

The exhibit—which has the working title “Southern Accent”—will ask what “southern identity” means in the visual arts, Schroth explained.

?“Much ink has been spilled on asking that question in literature and music,” she said. “But no one has focused an exhibition with a curatorial concept asking what makes a ‘southern’ artist? Born in the South? Lives and works in the South? Has subject matter dealing with a southern issue?”

Schroth said the exhibit is currently set to open in Fall 2016.

“Duke and the Nasher Museum have been very positive influences in our lives over the years, and to be able to support that legacy at the alma mater of my parents, myself and, soon, my daughter is truly an honor,” Derek Wilson said in the release.

The Wilson family ties to Duke extend to Derek's daughter Trinity, a senior, and his mother, Susan Moody Wilson, Women's College '62.

“This far-reaching gift reflects the Wilson family’s understanding of how the arts and athletics enrich and expand a Duke education,” President Richard Brodhead said in the release. “We are grateful for this new commitment across generations of the Wilson family, honoring their deep Duke roots and their appreciation of the many facets of the Duke student experience.”

This is not the first display of Duke philanthropy for the Wilson family, who are the namesakes of the West Campus recreation center. The family has given to areas across the University, with a particular focus on the arts and athletics—including several paintings donated to the Nasher by Derek Wilson and a $2 million gift to athletics last year by Gary Wilson, which led to the announcement that a gate would be named after him upon renovating Wallace Wade Stadium.

Wilson played as a running back for Duke's football team, including on back-to-back ACC Championship teams in 1960 and 1961.

“The Wilson family has been incredibly generous to Duke University,” Kevin White, vice president and director of athletics, said in the release. “This commitment is just another shining example of their core belief in the well-rounded educational experience that Duke offers. We appreciate this gift from the Wilsons and we savor the relationships we have developed with this very special family which believes so strongly in Duke.”

The gift comes as part of Duke Forward, the University's seven-year, $3.25 billion capital campaign.

Athletics has a $250 million goal, of which it has raised more than $185 million so far. The campaign will fund renovations to Wallace Wade and Cameron Indoor Stadiums, in addition to a new track and field stadium.

The arts are included as part of the campaign's $743.5 million University-wide priorities goal. Among the campaign projects for the arts are funding for Duke Performances, Nasher exhibitions and artist residencies.



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