Richard F. Wilson announced that he plans to retire July 31, 2015, or as soon thereafter
as a new president assumes office.
Describing his tenure as “enormously rewarding,” Wilson said: “What I have found especially
meaningful has been the dedication of the faculty and staff, the talent and engagement
of students, the loyalty of alumni, and the special relationship that the University
enjoys with the Bloomington-Normal community.” He added that, with several major projects
and strategic initiatives recently completed, it seemed like an ideal time for a leadership
“President Wilson’s leadership and service to Illinois Wesleyan over more than a decade
have truly been outstanding,” said Board of Trustees Chair George Vinyard ’71. “Our
alumni, students, faculty, staff and trustees deeply appreciate the many ways in which
he has made this a better and stronger institution. We are profoundly grateful for
the president’s foresight and dedication and will be for many decades to come.”
In his tenure, Wilson led two strategic planning efforts, guided the University through
a very turbulent decade economically and led the successful completion of the Transforming Lives campaign, which raised $141 million, surpassing its $125 million goal.
These efforts have resulted in substantial progress on several fronts. They include:
1) increased attention to assessment of student learning; 2) expansion of efforts
related to student leadership, volunteerism and community engagement; 3) growth in
domestic and international student diversity; 4) focused attention to issues related
to social justice and global citizenship and 5) increased commitment to sustainability,
including construction of the first LEED-certified building on Wesleyan’s campus.
Important capital projects completed during his tenure include the State Farm Hall
classroom building and Kemp Commencement Plaza, Minor Myers, jr. Welcome Center, Joslin
Atrium, Joyce Eichhorn Ames School of Art Rotunda, the Gates at Wesleyan student apartments
and installation of artificial turf at Tucci Stadium. The creation of a new quadrangle
to the north of State Farm Hall and a fitness center addition to the Shirk Center
are now underway.
Under Wilson’s leadership, the number of endowed chairs and professorships grew from
11 to 31; a foundation for the Summer Undergraduate Scholars and Artists Program was
established and the University’s commitment to development and alumni relations as
well as scholarship support for students was strengthened. As part of the recent comprehensive
campaign, a total of $27 million was received in annual and endowed scholarship gifts,
which supported 380 student scholarships.
According to Vinyard, the University has already begun its national search for IWU’s
next president. Following essentially the same process that brought Wilson to the
campus, a special committee including trustees, faculty, staff and students will be
appointed to carry out the search. It is anticipated that the search committee will
begin its work this semester, with the goal of having the new president on board before
the beginning of the upcoming fall semester.
Wilson holds master and doctoral degrees in higher education from the University of
Michigan. He held several leadership positions over a 26-year period at the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign prior to his appointment at Illinois Wesleyan.
Wilson has served on boards of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, the Economic
Development Council and the McLean County Historical Society. He took part in the
Achievement Gap Task Force, and he and his wife, Pat, were honorary co-chairs of the
American Red Cross of the Heartland Evening of Stars. On a national level, his contributions
include chairing the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities
and serving on the board of Educational and Institutional Insurance Administrators.