Wilson Society

There’s a giving society for that. Anything for a giving streak of two years? Rochester Loyal. Annual commitments to the School of Medicine? Whipple Society. What about annual unrestricted gifts to favorite parts of the University? George Eastman Circle. What about something that celebrates those who establish a planned gift of any amount, for any purpose at the University that also illuminates the legacy of transformational philanthropists Joe and Peggy Wilson? That’s the Wilson Society.

Wilsonmania. Right around the time Yoko Ono was becoming a problem for the Beatles, brilliant industrialist and Xerox founder Joseph C. Wilson ’31, and his wife, Marie (Peggy), were helping to launch Rochester onto the world stage. In 1967, the Wilsons pledged $20 million to the University—the largest private gift to any U.S. University that year. By Joe’s death in 1971, the Wilsons had given the University more than $40 million. Peggy continued to build on their legacy by giving her home, art collection, and other enduring support.

Joe wuz here. So wuz Peg. Go to any corner of the University, and you will find a story about the Wilsons’ leadership or generosity. It’s far from hyperbole. You can see them at the MAG (the Wilson Collection), in our classrooms, fighting cancer (Wilson oncology funding), and on our calendar. Today, we are still benefiting from the vision the Wilsons provided as trustees for more than three decades. If the University had a “Mt. Rushmore,” they’d be on it.

Bequest = flux capacitor. A charitable trust and a bequest in Joe’s will were among the Wilsons’ greatest contributions to the University. These are examples of planned giving. Planned giving is an easy way for donors to integrate their financial and philanthropy goals. It also allows the University to take immediate steps toward current goals, while planning for the future. Minus the time travel and most of the plot, Back to the Future II is basically a movie about planned giving.

Declaration of Commitment. Anyone who funds a life-income gift or establishes a plan to transfer assets to the University from their estate qualifies for membership in the Wilson Society. Anyone who has already done this or establishes a planned gift before June 30, 2016 will be considered a “Founding Member.” All Founders will receive a hardcover copy of Joe Wilson’s biography and will have the option to be listed in a Founders Honor Roll. Questions? Contact Rosanna or Christopher.

[MC]