Archive for Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Heart attack kills former president of Pitt State

May 21, 2003

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— Donald Wilson, the former president of Pittsburg State University who left under fire from the Kansas Board of Regents, has died. He was 65.

Wilson died Friday of an apparent heart attack in Thailand where he was working at a university, Pittsburg State said Monday.

Born of missionary parents in Poona, India, on Jan. 9, 1938, Wilson lived in many parts of the world as a child. He returned to the United States for college, receiving a bachelor's degree at Southern College in Tennessee, a master's degree from Andrews University in Michigan, and a doctorate from Michigan State University.

Wilson became the president and chief executive officer of Pittsburg State in 1983. But he resigned in 1995 after the regents gave him the choice of resigning or being fired in light of various allegations that led to an 18-month investigation.

The investigation resulted in two felony theft charges. The charges stemmed from allegations that he improperly provided full tuition waivers or in-state residency to international students at Pittsburg State.

A Crawford County district judge dismissed the matter, saying that although the state proved Wilson had waived tuition for students, he had not violated any state law because he did not benefit personally.

Current president Tom Bryant, who acted as interim president following Wilson's resignation, called his death a tragedy.

Under Wilson's administration, the university launched two major fund-raising efforts, changed athletic affiliation in 1989 from NAIA to NCAA Division II and created a master plan for capital construction for the entire campus.

Wilson is survived by his first wife, Kathleen Fischer; his current wife, Amporn Wilson, of Thailand; and four children.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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