|An interest in Texas State and in the welfare of Southeast Asian people led Ken and Verena Wilson to establish a charitable remainder trust that will support faculty-student exchanges. Here, the Wilsons are joined by the Camobian Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States, Mr. Meng Eang Nay, who recently visited the Texas State campus. |
Ken and Verena Wilson establish a program to help the people of Southeast Asia
During their recent travels in Southeast Asia, Texas State alumnus Kenneth J. Wilson and his wife Verena were struck by the region’s need for high-quality modern services in areas ranging from education and healthcare to urban planning and clean water. The Wilsons, who retired to Austin after Ken's career as a researcher and company vice president in biotechnology, wanted to do something for Texas State that would also help the people of Southeast Asia. The Wilsons fulfilled their desire by establishing the Kenneth J. and Verena Wilson Asian Faculty/Student Exchange Program in Texas State’s Center for International Studies, in the College of Liberal Arts. The program is funded by a $400,000 gift from the Wilsons that has been placed in a charitable remainder trust. Over the next 20 years, earned interest on the fund’s investment will support faculty and student exchange projects between Texas State and Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.
Under the program, a team of faculty and administrators from Texas State—including representatives from the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Health Professions, and Science—recently traveled to Cambodia to determine the ways in which Texas State faculty and students can be of most assistance in meeting the country’s needs. For example, faculty in the College of Liberal Arts can apply their expertise to modernizing educational systems, urban planning, public administration, and health psychology, while faculty from other colleges can assist in improving public health through the improvement of healthcare delivery and water quality.
Recently, Texas State hosted a visit by the Cambodian Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States, Mr. Meng Eang Nay, who participated in a panel discussion on Cambodia. Also, a Texas State graduate student in International Studies—Javier Mere Prado—has been chosen to go to Cambodia on exchange. A member of the Texas State track team, Mr. Prado plans to teach running to Cambodian youth who hope to qualify for the Cambodian Olympic Team. Other graduate student exchange participants will be chosen soon.
After the faculty-student exchange with Cambodia has begun full operation, assessment teams will travel to Laos and Vietnam to set up exchange programs there.
“The exchange program is quite an amazing initiative on the part of the Wilson family,” said Dr. Dennis Dunn, director of the Center for International Studies. “The Wilsons have given Texas State a marvelous opportunity to enhance our international outreach and to become involved in the great challenge of our time, the modernization of developing countries,” he said.