Commitment to diversity inspires giving

Tom Wilson understands the importance of diversity of thought and varying points of view.

As a labor and international employment attorney, Wilson helps companies connect with employees around the world. He negotiates with labor unions and handles issues for companies related to their labor relations. His job introduces him to people from all walks of life.

“What I like about my work is how I can help create a situation for my client where a variety of cultures and backgrounds come together and make a workplace that is successful,” he said.

That aspect of his legal work, and his decision in 1982 to move from the Midwest to attend law school in Tennessee, has influenced his giving to the University of Tennessee College of Law.

“As I’ve done more and more international work, I’ve come to understand how important it is that we expose young lawyers to differing viewpoints represented by different cultures,” he said. “The best advice you can give to a client means nothing if it’s not understood.”

Wilson (’85) and his wife Kathryn have established the Thomas and Kathryn Wilson Endowed Scholarship to help fund tuition specifically for an out-of-state student. This year’s recipient is first-year law student Isabelle Farineau.

Farineau, who relocated to Tennessee from Pennsylvania with her husband – also a UT student, said the scholarship she has received has enabled her to afford and accomplish her goals.

“Mr. Wilson’s generosity was the difference between putting off law school indefinitely and the ability to finally start my legal career,” Farineau said.

During a recent meeting between the two, Wilson shared career guidance with Farineau and she relayed some of her plans for the future.

“Hearing Mr. Wilson’s perspective on how to succeed, but most importantly how to grow when learning from other students with different backgrounds resonated deeply with me,” she said.

“The challenge for myself and my student class to remember” is “that when we do succeed in our life … we continue the tradition of alumni support and scholarship funding for the future volunteers to come.”