Stan and Debi Wilson give $100,000 to begin annual scholarship
Taking the confidence instilled throughout their undergraduate coursework at Georgia College, Stan and Debi Wilson each created an outstanding career — Stan as the managing partner of the Atlanta labor and employment law firm, Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson, LLP; and Debi as senior vice president and chief financial officer for Butler Properties
“We received an excellent education at Georgia College," noted Debi, “and I always felt that the faculty supported us and gave us the confidence to succeed in class, and in life. We had the keys to go forward!"
Now the couple hopes, by establishing the Wilson Presidential Scholarship, to provide the key for future students interested in developing that same confidence and success. Their $100,000 donation will create an endowment, which annually will provide scholarship support for incoming Georgia College students.
As a long-time member of the Georgia College Foundation Board of Trustees, Stan has followed the transition of the university into one of the top public liberal arts colleges in the country. “I love to see the students who present information to the Board on what they’re doing as part of their educational process at Georgia College," said Stan. “Providing assistance for these students — that’s what drives us."
“It’s a pay-it-forward approach," adds Debi. “We hope that by providing students this additional support, maybe, in the future when they have become successful in their careers, they will do the same thing." Stan and Debi came to Georgia College from Sandersville as high school sweethearts and both entered the accounting program. “We were attracted to the small campus, the small class sizes and to the faculty who were so willing to help and available after class, and who shared their business knowledge — the theory — but also told us how it would be in the real business world," said Debi. “It was a great experience. “
After graduation in 1977, Debi applied her accounting degree to work at Ackerman and Company, an Atlanta real estate firm, and later, Butler Properties, where she had the opportunity to expand her areas of responsibility. With Debi’s support, Stan, “a stellar student," Debi notes, was able to go straight from Georgia College into law school at Emory University. “That first day at Emory Law School," Stan recalls, “there were students from all the top colleges in the country: Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago. They had what you think of as the best pedigrees, but I’ll tell you that I had a great education — Georgia College had prepared me just as well and had given me the confidence to succeed."
Debi seconds the notion that the education at Georgia College matches well with anyone. “I had a chance later to attend a class in finance at Princeton, and everything they were discussing in that class was completely familiar to me from my classes at Georgia College."
While growing their careers, the two also successfully raised two sons, Matthew and Christopher, who have graduated from college and live in Atlanta. Matthew has succeeded as a real estate developer, even in these difficult economic conditions, and Christopher has started his career in marketing.
Stan’s involvement with the Georgia College Foundation began in 2000 and he has stayed active, currently serving as chair of the campaign committee after having previously served as chair of the board and chair of the fundraising committee. Stan and Debi previously established the Wilson School of Business Accounting Scholarship to support undergraduate accounting students from Washington County. They also have supported annual scholarships for entering freshmen business majors, with a preference for students from Sandersville.
“The fun in being on the board has been in watching this transformation into a great public liberal arts university," Stan said. “The university has had great leadership in this total transformation, and the faculty, staff and students all have contributed to its success. I deal with people all over the country and the state, and our people at Georgia College are the real deal. And I will tell you that people all over the state know that Georgia College is a great educational value."