Jane S. Willson of Albany has given a $2.5 million gift to the Terry College of Business to endow a new faculty chair in memory of her late husband. The William Harry Willson Distinguished Chair will honor Harry Willson’s commitment to business excellence and his support of higher education in the state of Georgia.
“In so many ways, Harry and Jane Willson have left an indelible imprint on the University of Georgia. The gift of this endowed chair is the legacy Jane will leave within the Terry College, and it’s a wonderful tribute to Harry and his many accomplishments in business,” said Robert E. Hoyt, interim dean of the Terry College. “There are countless individuals all across this campus whose lives have been forever touched by the generosity of Jane and Harry Willson, and we are so appreciative of the confidence they have shown in us.”
“The University of Georgia has had no better friend than Jane Willson,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams.“Although neither she nor Harry attended UGA, she understands that a strong and vibrant flagship institution is important to the well-being of the entire state. She also understands that UGA will achieve its highest goals only with the generous financial support of people who love this place. We are eternally grateful to Jane and to Harry for their support.”
Jane and Harry Willson have maintained a long interest in and support of education, international affairs and the arts. In 2001, they gave $1 million to the UGA Center for International Trade and Security to create an endowment that brings visiting scholars and international leaders to the university and provides international internship opportunities for students.
In 2005, Jane Willson gave a $534,000 gift to the UGA Honors Program to provide travel grants for honors students to study abroad. They endowed the UGA Center for Humanities and Arts, which was renamed the Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts in 2005. The couple also endowed a professorship in the humanities, created a scholarship fund for undergraduates and supported the State Botanical Garden at UGA.
Jane Willson was awarded an honorary degree at UGA’s undergraduate Commencement ceremony in May and was inducted last fall into the Pinnacle Society, which recognizes donors whose cumulative lifetime giving to Terry totals $1 million or more. She has served as a trustee of the UGA Foundation and the University of Georgia Research Foundation. She serves on the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences board of advisers. She also is a member of the Presidents Club and the Heritage Society. In 2004, she received the Blue Key Service Award from the UGA chapter of Blue Key honor society.