Sam Wilson, and the Sam Wilson Memorial Scholarship
Sam Wilson joined the University of Massachusetts Boston community in an advisory role in 1988, when he was selected as one of 49 IBM employees to participate in the IBM Faculty Loan Program. This program provided participants an opportunity to teach or work in a variety of educational environments having a significant focus on minority, handicapped, or disadvantaged students. Sam was loaned to the University of Massachusetts Boston to help develop and implement in the College of Management the Educational Opportunity Program to attract and retain minority students, in response to the Boston business community’s desire to hire a more diverse, college-educated workforce. As participants were recruited, enrolled, and took classes, they also were placed in competitive internships in the Boston Business Community. Sam visited local high schools to generate student interest and area corporations to raise funds and obtain internships for students.
The EOP thrived by nurturing a diverse cohort of incoming freshmen in the College of Management, and a summer course that Sam taught for entering freshmen helped to ready students for the academic and professional year ahead. In many ways, the EOP was an early predecessor to programs like Management LEAD and the Freshman Success Communities. As participants were recruited, enrolled, and took classes, they also were placed in competitive, paid internships in the Boston Business Community.
Eager to pursue the implementation of the program beyond the first year’s development stage, Sam requested to stay on at the college and was approved by IBM for the 1989-90 academic year. It was in the autumn of that academic year that Sam learned he had a terminal illness, yet he continued his work with the program whose mission he believed in strongly. Sam passed away in March 1990.
In tribute to the effort and enthusiasm he brought to the program, his family created the Sam Wilson Scholarship Fund, which has historically provided an annual award to a student entering the Educational Opportunity Program. Though that program no longer exists, the scholarship continues to be awarded to College of Management students of diverse backgrounds pursuing their undergraduate degree. Sam Wilson Scholars will be chosen for the qualities that Sam Wilson himself demonstrated to an exceptional degree—dedication to work, a sense of excellence, and enthusiasm for life.
Sam’s wife, Marie, and children—Lloyd, Karyn, and Lynda—keep alive the memory of a loving family man, a dedicated professional, and a true friend to countless numbers by meeting the Sam Wilson Scholar each spring.