Philanthropy Lab opens at Alumni House thanks to business alumna’s donation

The Philanthropy Lab, a space for Campbell students to gain real-world experience in nonprofit fundraising, is now functioning at the Cornelia Campbell Alumni House thanks to a generous donation from alumna Tara Wilson (’89).

Located on the second floor of the historic Buies Creek building, the Philanthropy Lab officially opened ahead of the fall 2023 semester. The Student Alumni Ambassadors (SAA) now call it home and use it almost daily in the critical work they do for the Office of Annual Giving and Office of Alumni Engagement. That work includes outreach to alumni and friends of the university.

The comfortable office space was made possible by Wilson, a Business Administration graduate.

“The lab serves as a philanthropic educational opportunity where students actively contribute to supporting our donor phonathon program,” said Robin Gordon, Director of Annual Giving.

“By participating in these interactions with donors, students gain valuable insights into the generosity of our alumni and friends who play a pivotal role in making our initiatives possible. This firsthand experience not only enhances their understanding of philanthropy but also fosters a sense of connection and gratitude within our Campbell community.”

Tara dedicated the space with a naming plaque in memory of her mother Faye Wilson, a pioneering businesswoman and philanthropist who passed away in July 2023.

Faye made her mark in many industries, notably as an executive with The Home Depot during its formative years as well as a venerable figure in international banking during 21 years with Bank of America. In 1992, she became the first woman to serve on The Home Depot’s Board of Directors, a position she held for 10 years.

After receiving her undergrad at Duke, Faye had a stint as a CPA and bookkeeper, then returned to the University of Southern California for double master’s degrees in international business relations and business administration. She received her first big break thereafter at Security Pacific National Bank in Los Angeles.

“At first she was given all the scut work because she was ‘just a girl’,” Tara said. “She would write the reports, and one day, one of the vice presidents came down and asked, ‘Who wrote this?’ Everyone pointed at my mom. And he said, ‘Come with me.’ And she was promoted from there.”

Faye’s ascension in the corporate world came at a time when it was uncommon for women to reach the levels of success she did. Faye’s competitive drive helped her break barriers, and her work productivity spoke for itself, Tara said.

“My mom was a trailblazer. She was the top woman in banking worldwide for quite a significant time,” Tara said. “She ran acquisitional banking for Security Pacific and then Bank of America for all of Europe.”

Faye was affectionately referred to by her employees as “The Velvet Hammer” for her kind yet direct management style. The moniker is memorialized within the text of the naming plaque located outside the new philanthropy lab.

The lab, which serves as a center for students to grow both professionally and philanthropically, was a perfect symbolic location for Faye’s impact to live on, Tara said.

“She was a lifetime learner and she was also a mentor,” Tara said. “She was very fortunate to have mentors that helped guide her towards her career path. And she thought it was important to return that favor.

“You could see those relationships [develop] over 30 and 40 years with people she kept in contact with and people she mentored throughout their careers. So [the philanthropy lab] was a great fit.”

Along with her strong reputation in the business world, Faye was a generous donor to various worthwhile causes. Tara found that in the last several years of Faye’s life, she was “donating a lot more money than she made.”

Faye stood as a shining example of selfless dedication to causes close to her heart. In the beginning of her career, when financial constraints posed a hurdle, Faye did not hesitate to contribute her time and skills to make a positive impact.

Whether it was volunteering at the Newport Beach Children’s Theater, the Mardan School for Children with Disabilities, and much more, Faye embraced opportunities to give back. As her circumstances improved, she seamlessly transitioned to not only donating her time but also generously contributing financially to various charitable endeavors. Faye’s journey underscores the notion that giving comes in many forms, emphasizing that everyone can play a role in creating positive change, regardless of their current resources.

Like her mother, Tara has a diverse professional background. Tara practices law and is a proud Orange Owned business owner (Lulu Max Jewelry). Also like her mom, Tara greatly appreciates giving and instilling a giving mindset in young people.

“There is a commitment to service here at Campbell that is in line with my personal values of giving back to the community and instilling that in our students,” Tara said.

Tara lives in Lillington with her husband Greg Pittman. Tara is an active volunteer for several organizations. Among other ventures, she serves on the Presidential Advisory Board for Campbell, the Harnett County Health Board and teaches Bible study for young adults at Buies Creek First Baptist.

Her investment in the Philanthropy Lab will encourage the next generations to seek out a life of service.

“By investing in the Philanthropy Lab, Tara showcases a profound dedication to the educational and personal development of our students,” Gordon said. “Her support not only provides a space for tangible resources, but also sends a powerful message about the significance of philanthropy in shaping well-rounded individuals.”

Naming opportunities, like that of Tara and Faye Wilson, allow the University to recognize donors who support Campbell’s mission.

Click here to explore further the many naming opportunities that remain at Campbell. Naming opportunities start at $5,000. For more information about these opportunities please contact Robin Gordon at the Office of Annual Giving at (910) 814-4923.