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KNOXVILLE — Alan Wilson, chairman, president and CEO of spice manufacturing giant McCormick & Co., remembers how much he wanted to attend the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and how tough it was for his family, financially, to help him achieve that dream.

That was the inspiration that prompted Wilson and his wife, Wendy, to contribute $100,000 to fund an endowed scholarship for undergraduates in College of Communication and Information (CCI).

The Wilsons’ gift to UT also included $25,000 for the Debby Schriver Endowment for Student Orientation and $75,000 for an endowed scholarship program in the College of Business Administration, expected to begin awarding scholarships in 2012.

“This is very personal for me, because I would not have been able to attend UT without financial aid,” said Wilson, a South Carolina native, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communication in 1980. “When I was considering colleges, I really wanted to attend UT Knoxville, but it was a significant financial challenge for my family as an out-of-state student. I was offered a modest amount of financial aid, enough for me to make the commitment to UT. Ultimately, I accepted an Army ROTC scholarship which not only paid for school, but ensured — or committed me to — my first job after college.”

After graduating from UT Knoxville, Wilson served as a U.S. Army captain, with tours in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Germany.

Wilson joined McCormick in 1993. He was elected president and CEO in 2008 and named chairman of the board in 2009.

“The written and oral communications skills that I developed at UT Knoxville have been a key factor in my career,” he said.

CCI Dean Mike Wirth said the endowment, once it is fully funded in 2011, will yield about $5,000 a year to be given out as scholarships to students majoring in some aspect of communication and information.

Wirth said the first scholarships could be awarded as soon as next year.

“I am extremely grateful to Alan and Wendy Wilson for investing in the College of Communication and Information,” Wirth said. “Their gift makes a UT education more affordable and accessible for future CCI students and provides much-needed financial support to help us fulfill our mission of educating tomorrow’s communication and information leaders.”

McCormick & Co. Inc. is the world’s largest spice producer, headquartered in Baltimore with operations in such diverse locales as India and France.

Alan Wilson was the subject of a 2008 feature story in Tennessee Alumnus magazine. To read that story, visit

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely, (865-974-5034,