For students at the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, the Welcome W. Wilson Sr. Endowed scholarship offers an opportunity for success. Though, looking into the Wilson family, there is a rich history that dates back all the way to the 1940s.This scholarship is catered towards communications students as Welcome Wilson Sr. spent the majority of his time at the University working at The Cougar. Wilson Sr. acted as a salesman, then the ad manager, before becoming the business manager for both the newspaper and the annual yearbook Houstonian from May 1947 to September 1949.
From his time as a UH student to his role as the chairman of the Board of Regents, Wilson Sr. always made sure to have a hand in the progression of the University. During his time on the board from 2007 to 2010, he was the one to help hire Renu Khator, the current UH chancellor.
“Both of my parents went to the University of Houston in the late 1940s,” said Welcome Wilson Sr.’s son Craig Wilson. “My father remained involved in UH when he was board president and we as a family have always been involved with the University.”
A fun fact about another Wilson family’ tie to the University is Welcome Sr. and Joanne got married on graduation day in 1949.
Welcome Wilson Sr. and his brother Jack Wilson, who also worked at The Cougar during his time at UH, became friends with Jack J. Valenti. They were all a part of “The Pride” group with Johnny Goyen and Bill Sherill.
Wilson Sr. knew Valenti well, from helping to raise $600,000 for the Valenti School from the Hearst Foundation in 2007 to naming Valenti the godfather of his son Craig Wilson.
“I’ve been involved with the Valenti school since my godfather passed,” Wilson said. “I’ve been working closely with the Valenti school directors to get improvements done for the students.”
After Jack J. Valenti’s passing over a decade ago, the Wilson family made the decision to rename the communication school in his honor. Soon after, another family decision came in the form of creating a student endowment fund.
Some of the other improvements the Wilson family and Craig specifically have worked on include completing the square courtyard outside of the Communication school building, and working on adding more to the main hallway in the school.
“I would say watching (my father) over the years and being around him he would always focus on doing the right thing,” Wilson said. “More than just doing the right thing for himself.”
The Wilson family had connections to communication and journalism even before Welcome Sr. and Jack attended UH. The Houston Press Club, mentioned previously in the Brasel family history, was headed by their father Jack E. Wilson for a time.
Wilson Sr. went to UH and witnessed many historical events for the University. When he started his coursework in the Fall of 1945, there were less than 3,000 students attending, then by Wilson Sr.’s second semester, soldiers came home and took advantage of the GI bill, upping the University's capacity to nearly 10,000 students.
Another moment of history impacted by the world war happening in the early 40s was Frontier Fiesta. The campus-wide celebration and carnival was started in 1940 and halted during the war. It was later resumed in 1946 and Wilson Sr. was one of the Frontiersmen that helped set up the Fiesta. He also aided in the Fiesta Gazette with the role of Story Teller.
Along with many other achievements, Wilson Sr. was considered one of the Houstonian yearbook’s outstanding people. In the years following his time on the board, Wilson Sr. was given the Trailblazer Award by the American Advertising Federation in 2013.
“I hope our endowment will provide students the help they need to keep moving on,” Wilson said. “Also, I hope that it attracts very high-quality people to the school. I’ve always considered the Valenti school a diamond in the rough, it wins a lot of awards (and) it's very good. It’s very good at what it does.”