UT wants to honor Charlie Wilson

AUSTIN, TX And, for the first time, the school is using a call center in Pakistan to help raise a half-million dollars, said Randy Diehl, the new dean at UT's college of liberal arts. That amount would match a Lufkin foundation's grant.

Colleyville-based Touchstone Communications has offered the services of its call center workers in Islamabad free of charge to contact potential benefactors around the United States.

The scholar would be a leader in the field of Pakistan studies, dovetailing with UT's well-reputed South Asian language program teaching Urdu and Hindi, Diehl said.

"I am extremely optimistic we will match the other $500,000," Diehl told the Fort Worth-Star-Telegram.

If the fundraising is successful, Diehl said, it would be the only chair in Pakistan studies in the United States.

Wilson, 75, represented Texas' 2nd District in the House from 1973 to 1996.

Known as "Good Time Charlie," Wilson was portrayed in the Hanks movie as a hard-drinking womanizer. His covert support of the Afghan resistance movement against the Soviets inspired the film, based on the book by CBS producer George Crile.

One famed Wilson ploy was to fly a Fort Worth belly dancer, Carol Shannon, to the Middle East to win the support of Egyptian officials for an arms transfer. He later crossed from Pakistan into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan dressed as a mujahedeen fighter. The CIA ended up honoring the larger-than-life Wilson for his machinations.

While Wilson is said to be honored by the proposed chair, he hasn't made fundraising easy.

Diehl said he's honoring the retired politician's request that none of his friends or longtime supporters be approached, respecting the favors they've already done for Wilson over the years.

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