William H. Wilken ’63
B.A., Denison University
M.A., Emory University
Ph.D., Syracuse University
Citation awarded June, 2013
Upon graduating from Denison with a degree in history, William H. Wilken started along the often winding road of his professional career. After receiving a Ph.D. from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, Bill began a teaching career at Georgia State University in their political science department. He was offered tenure and rank as an associate professor, however chose to instead join the world of public policy research and advocacy in Washington, D.C.
In Washington, Bill wrote and spoke extensively on school finance reform, becoming the “go-to” on the subject after being elected as a director of the American Education Finance Association.
Switching careers again, Bill turned to entrepreneurship and the booming field of information technology, despite being someone who, in his words, “assiduously avoided any technical or scientific coursework at Denison.” Struggling at first, he eventually formed a relationship with a retired Navy ship driver and cabinet importer. Together, their venture blossomed into CMS Information Services, a firm with several hundred employees and a three-time member of the Inc. 500.
In 2005, Bill retired as the company’s chief information officer and from its board upon selling the firm to CACI International, a Fortune 500 corporation. Retirement has brought him and his wife, Jane, class of 1964, back to Granville after over 30 years living in the suburbs of Washington.
Bill has served two terms on the board of the Denison University Research Foundation, co-chaired the class of 1963’s 45th reunion committee, and has joined his fellow classmates on their 50th reunion steering committee. In Granville, Bill has served on the governing boards of the Granville Community Foundation and St. Luke’s church.
Harkening back to his “philosophy of life” paper for Professor Macoskey at Denison, Bill jokes that if he had to write it again, the message would be succinct: “life is simple – it’s all about family, faith, friends and education.”