Gift Provides $3 Million for Duke Athletics, Nasher Museum of Art

Former Duke trustee Gary L. Wilson and his son, Derek, are committing the money for athletic enhancements and a museum endowment.

A family with extensive ties to Duke University has committed $3 million to Duke in support of athletics and the Nasher Museum of Art, President Richard H. Brodhead announced Tuesday.Gary L. Wilson, a former Duke trustee, and his son, Derek, who serves on the Nasher’s board of advisors, are providing $2 million to enhance and support athletic facilities and $1 million to fund an endowment for the museum and its collection.“This far-reaching gift reflects the Wilson family’s understanding of how the arts and athletics enrich and expand a Duke education,” Brodhead said. “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.”The Wilsons have long been connected to Duke. Gary Wilson graduated from Trinity College in 1962 and was a running back on the university’s football team when it won the 1960 Cotton Bowl and ACC championships in 1960 and 1961. He is the former chairman of Northwest Airlines Corporation and has previously served on the boards of directors of The Walt Disney Company and Yahoo! Inc.Derek Wilson earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Duke in 1986 and an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business in 1990. His mother, Susan Moody Wilson, graduated from the Woman’s College at Duke in 1962. His daughter, Trinity, is scheduled to graduate from Duke in 2015.Derek Wilson and his wife Christen previously donated two works of art to the Nasher Museum and contributed to the purchase of three others. Wilson is also a founding board member of Fuqua’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.The Wilson Recreation Center on West Campus is named for the family, which gave $5 million in 1996 in support of its construction. Last year, Gary Wilson also committed $2 million to Duke Athletics. In recognition of his support, a gate at the newly renovated Wallace Wade Stadium will be named for the family.“The Wilson family has been incredibly generous to Duke University,” said Kevin White, vice president and director of athletics. “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.”Gary Wilson said that Duke “has been a major pillar in the Wilson family structure for three generations.”“Duke gave me the foundation to grow into a well-rounded person and we want future Duke students to have that same opportunity,” he said.The latest Wilson gift will allow the Nasher to continue curating original exhibitions and enable the museum to showcase the best of its collection -- from ancient art to contemporary -- in one space. “We are so grateful that this generous gift has arrived as we plan for the Nasher Museum’s 10th anniversary next year,” said Sarah Schroth, the museum’s Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director. “Derek has been a model member of the board of advisors, and we are very grateful for his support.”Derek Wilson calls the Nasher “a world-class museum at a world-class university.”“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,” said Wilson, who is also a trustee of the Dallas Museum of Art and serves on the International Council of the Tate Modern in London.The $5 million in commitments from the Wilson family in the past two years contributes to the success of Duke Forward, the seven-year, university-wide fundraising campaign that aims to raise $3.25 billion by June 30, 2017. Every dollar donated to Duke's 10 schools and units, Duke Medicine or a range of university programs and initiatives counts toward the campaign.Included in Duke Forward is a $250 million goal for Duke Athletics that focuses on three areas: facility enhancements and support; scholarship and program endowment; and operating funds. Another campaign priority is a campus-wide initiative in the arts, with a focus on increasing investment in arts-related programs and people across Duke.