Vanderbilt Law School announced on Wednesday a $17.5 million legacy gift from alumnus W. Weldon Wilson supporting the existing scholarship Wilson established.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of his graduation, Wilson and his wife, Elaine, established the scholarship in 2011 to aid the school’s recruiting effort for prospective law students. The Wilsons donated again, this time in honor of Wilson’s 35th graduation anniversary.

In a Vanderbilt release, Wilson, on the Vanderbilt Law School Board of Advisors, said the opportunities and experience at Vanderbilt were “crucial” in his professional development.

“I elected to attend a public university for my undergraduate degree based on tuition cost but aspired to attend Vanderbilt Law School for its excellent reputation and national focus,” Wilson said in the release. “With this bequest, Elaine and I hope we can provide similar opportunities for others.”

Wilson is a native of Huntsville, Alabama, where he received his undergraduate degree. After graduating from Vanderbilt in 1986, Wilson started a career in law that’s spanned over 30 years, which included establishing an international life insurance law firm in 2003.

“We are deeply grateful for the Wilsons’ enduring commitment to Vanderbilt Law School,” Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “This new bequest will ensure that future generations of law students will have access to Vanderbilt’s life-changing education and training.”

Vanderbilt Law School has consistently ranked in the top 20 Best Law Schools list, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual college survey. On average, tuition costs $64,284, and 15 Vanderbilt law students have received financial aid from the Wilson scholarship.

One student is Kristen Smith, part of the law school’s 2023 graduating class.

“I have loved my time at Vanderbilt Law School and feel so fortunate to be able to receive a degree from Vanderbilt,” she said. “This scholarship has made that possible, and I am so appreciative.”

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