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Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) is celebrating its largest gift in the history of the College as the Charles Banks Wilson Trust provided $1.1 million to establish a scholarship fund and support arts education at NEO.  “My grandfather always knew that NEO was a beacon in Ottawa County and northeast Oklahoma,” said Mick Wilson, grandson of Charles Banks Wilson, who spoke on behalf of the family. “He would tell me about how this was the hub and how proud he was to have started the art department. I appreciate how good NEO has been to our family and my grandfather is smiling down today.” Wilson created the NEO Art Department in 1946 and served as its chair for fifteen years before retiring to full-time studio work. Through the work of the NEO and the NEO Development Foundation, NEO dedicated the gallery in Wilson’s honor in 2013. The gift from the Charles Banks Wilson Trust was presented at a press conference in the Charles Banks Wilson Art Gallery on the NEO campus. The gift has been used to immediately establish five scholarships: two in the visual arts, one in band, one in music, and one in music-theater.

Freshman Band Student Morgan Fleming from Miami, Okla., Freshmen Music Major Michaela Haddox from Lenapah, Okla., Freshmen Music-Theatre Major Cheyenne Sanchez from Riverton, Kan., Freshman Art Major Evelyn Miller from Delaware, Okla., and Freshman Art Major Wendy Brown from Fairland, Okla., were the first five recipients of the Charles Banks Wilson Scholarship. Each student will receive a $1,000 scholarship. “In spite of reductions in state appropriations, NEO and its staff and faculty remain dedicated to art education,” said Dr. Jeff Hale, NEO president. “There will always be a place for artists and the arts on the NEO A&M Campus. We can see the impact that our artists have had on our campus in the past and this gift will ensure that future artists can grow and develop their craft.”

The NEO Development Foundation Chair Anna Milligan accepted the gift on behalf of NEO. “It may be gloomy weather outside, but the sun is shining on NEO. This is truly a wonderful and historic day.” For more information about the Charles Banks Wilson Gallery or the NEO Development Foundation, contact the executive director of the Foundation Jennifer Walker at Jennifer.hessee@neo.edu. (Photo from left: Dr. Jeff Hale, Anna Milligan, Jennifer Walker, Art Instructor Jessica Stout, Mick Wilson)

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