Herb & Janice Wilson donate funds for scholarshipsAmong $5 million in major donations to Purdue University announced at Homecoming was a major gift from long-time band supporters Herb and Janice Wilson of Iowa City, Iowa.
The Wilsons announced a gift of $2.28 million, with $500,000 going toward the mechanical engineering campaign and $500,000 to support the new $38 million Visual and Performing Arts Building, which is located at the corner of Wood and Marsteller streets. The remaining $1.28 million will go to provide $800,000 in scholarships for Purdue's “All-American” Marching Band and $480,000 for athletic scholarships.
The Wilsons have been giving to Purdue for decades. At Purdue Bands, the Wilson Scholarships reward students chosen to lead various offices staffed by student volunteers – Operations, Supply, Library, Records & Recruitment, Outreach and Clothing.
On Friday, Nov. 7, the Wilsons will dine with students benefiting from their scholarships at a special dinner prior to a U.S. Marine Band concert at Elliott Hall.
“My wife and I believe in scholarships for students in the band because they do an awful lot for the school and don't get much recognition,” Herbert Wilson said.
Dr. David A. Leppla, director of bands, said the funds will go a long way toward rewarding the best students for their hard work and sometimes thankless service.
"The spirit of volunteerism has been such an important part of our Purdue Band history," Leppla said. “Our students put in so many volunteer hours beyond their musical ensembles. It's wonderful to receive this kind of recognition from one of Purdue's most distinguished alumni."
Sigman said the Wilsons' contribution to the Visual and Performing Arts Building will be acknowledged by naming the building's green room after them. The green room is where the cast of productions prepare to take the stage.
“I have enjoyed the performing arts all of my life,” Herbert
Wilson said. “I used to frequent the theater in Chicago. I continue
to enjoy the theater, and I want to support Purdue's first-class theater
Herbert Wilson earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in 1951 and an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1959. He was the owner, president and chief executive officer of Micro-Surface Finishing Products Inc., in Wilton, Iowa, from 1977 until retiring in 2000.
Herbert Wilson said he grew up in Chicago admiring Purdue. “I went down to Purdue and I met a terrific bunch of fellows in my freshman year,” Wilson said. "These people are lifelong friends. “I received a great education and went out into the world. I worked with a lot of engineers, and I always felt my Purdue experience qualified me to dance with the best of them. So, I really thank Purdue for having given me that high-quality education.”
Janice Wilson is a nurse by profession and former vice president of Micro-Surface Finishing Products.
“All of these gifts
we've given are from Herbert and Janice Wilson,” Herbert Wilson
said. “We do everything together.”