William H. Wilken ’63

B.A., Denison University, 1963
M.A., Emory University, 1964
Ph.D., Syracuse University, 1971

Granville, OH

Citation awarded June, 2013

I am now retired and once again reside in Granville, Ohio. Jane (Denison ’64) and I returned here in 2006 in search of life on a human scale that always seemed beyond reach in the suburbs of Washington, DC where we lived for over 30 years. In retirement, I have enjoyed two terms on the board of the Denison University Research Foundation; co-chaired the Class of ’63’s 45th Reunion committee; and have joined several other classmates on our 50th Reunion steering committee.” Locally, I also have served on the governing boards of the Granville Community Foundation and St. Luke’s Church.

I returned to Granville via a professional career that went in anything but a straight line. I began my professional career teaching in Georgia State University’s Political Science Department after a PhD from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. I was offered tenure and rank as an Associate Professor, but I left university life in the mid-70’s to join the world of public policy research and advocacy in Washington, DC, where I wrote and spoke extensively on school finance reform, becoming an official “authority” on the subject upon my election as a director of the American Education Finance Association.

Once again in the early 1980’s, I walked away from one career to another, this one as an entrepreneur in the booming field of information technology, a rather ironic choice for someone who assiduously avoided any technical or scientific coursework at Denison. While I struggled at first, I eventually formed a business relationship with the seemingly unlikely combination of a retired Navy ship driver and a cabinet importer. Our venture blossomed into CMS Information Services, a firm with several hundred employees that was a three-time member of the “Inc 500.” I retired as the company’s Chief Information Officer and its board in 2005 when we sold the firm to a Fortune 500 corporation.

Looking back, it might be worth a good laugh to read whatever I wrote while at Denison in Bob Macoskey’s required “philosophy of life” paper. If I were to write it again, however, its message would be succinct: “Life is Simple: It’s All About Family, Faith, Friends and Education.”