Wilson Family Donates $1 Million To Endow Faculty Chair At Arkansas State

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 124 views 

A family with longtime agricultural ties to Northeast Arkansas on Tuesday gave $1 million to Arkansas State University to help set up a faculty chair in agricultural business.

Perry Wilson, great-great grandson of R.E. Lee Wilson of Mississippi County, has announced his family will endow a faculty chair in Agricultural Business with a $1 million gift to Arkansas State University.

“It is very, very important to my family that Arkansas State carries on the tradition it has had in educating folks to go into agriculture and into business,” Wilson said. “That’s the real purpose of the endowment; to be a crossover between the agriculture school and the business school.”

Wilson said a lot of people come into farming who are well educated in agriculture, but lack the business training they need, for instance, to market their crops. Because Arkansas State is, what he said, “smack in the middle of the Delta,” the university finds itself uniquely situated to address that concern.

The gift also drew support from ASU officials.

“Perry Wilson and his family have been a part of Arkansas State for nearly a century; their leadership and philanthropy have contributed to the very fabric of our university,” said Dr. Tim Hudson, A-State chancellor. “This generous gift to create an endowed chair further extends the Wilson family’s legacy. The position it supports will allow our agricultural business program to lead the way for generations to come.”

According to Dr. Timothy Burcham, agriculture dean, the endowed faculty chair in agricultural business will ensure academic distinction at A-State by attracting a faculty member who exhibits the highest degree of excellence in agri-business.

“When you look at having an endowed faculty chair, that sets you at a whole other level with regard to the type of individual you’re recruiting,” said. “This is a tremendous program and concentration that will allow us to do a great job with our students.”

The professor who fills this position will use the endowment’s interest proceeds for teaching, research and/or service-related activities to help agri-business students gain an in-depth understanding of agri-business, food systems, production management, farm and ranch management, commodity trading and environmental issues.

The holder will help shape the discipline’s curriculum and, in turn, ensure A-State students will be prepared to meet the challenges and demands of today’s global society.

Wilson said the legacy of his family is what brought him to A-State, but seeing how the university has advanced since he has been involved has been “thrilling.” He said the endowed chair position will draw focus to a subject that may have previously lacked focus by any one institution.

“Possibly that will draw students here who are looking for that type of comprehensive agri-business,” he explained.

Planning coursework and selecting the chair holder will take time, Burcham said. The university hopes to have a curriculum in place for the fall 2017 semester.

For additional information about supporting Arkansas State, please visit AState.edu/gift or call (870) 972-2060.