President Wiewel: The man behind the mask

Photo courtesy of The Log Archives

At the culmination of the Spring 2022 semester, President Wim Wiewel will retire from Lewis & Clark College and academia. Current Vice-President of Student Life and Dean of Students Robin Holmes- Sullivan is set to replace him when he does.

Wiewel began his career as an administrator at the University of Illinois, Chicago. At 34 years old, he served as Acting Director of the Center for Urban Economic Development. He also acted as Dean for the College of Urban Planning and the College of Business. Wiewel remained at the university for 25 years before later working as provost of the University of Baltimore for four years.

In 2008, Wiewel and his wife Alice moved to Portland. Wiewel became the president of Portland State University (PSU), while Alice worked as an architect for the Oregon University System, and then as the state architect for Oregon.

In 2017, former President Barry Glassner resigned from his post. Wiewel was then selected as the college’s 25th president. He arrived at LC after serving as president for nine years at PSU. Wiewel’s arrival was vital for LC, as the institution was dealing with financial troubles.

“My main goal was to give hope,” Wiewel said. “A president can only do so much. Colleges become great because of the creativity and hard work of all the faculty and staff. The way that you bring that out, as a president, is by setting a direction.”

The president began his efforts by first analyzing where the institution, and its community, was at. Based on that, Wiewel set forth a series of strategic plans that would steer the college into a positive direction. By ensuring that the resources, structures and processes were in place for Palatine Hill, Wiewel hoped that “the creativity of the faculty and staff could be unleashed.”

Wiewel is most proud of the strategic enrollment and financial planning efforts of the college, under his guidance. For the first time in 25 years, LC held a comprehensive fundraising campaign, Exploring for the Global Good. When Wiewel steps down, the campaign will have raised $122 million of its $150 million goal with only two years left. He is confident that the college will successfully meet its goal.

Wiewel spent most of his career at large, public universities. When he arrived at LC, he was pleasantly surprised by what he was met with. The president had known about the beautiful campus, LC’s efforts in sustainability and its global orientation. However, he did not expect to see such a strong community.

“I’d always heard small liberal arts colleges talk … (about) how important the community was, and I have to admit that I always thought that was a bit of hype and advertising,” Wiewel said. “What I didn’t know was that sense of community and caring (at LC) is really true.”

During his time at both PSU and LC, the president credits his wife Alice for keeping him grounded. While working a successful career as an architect, Alice was a regular attendee of campus events, fundraising trips and meetings. Perhaps most importantly to Wiewel, Alice listened to him everyday, providing both perspective and support.

The couple has purchased a home on Palatine Hill and plan on remaining in Portland after Wiewel’s retirement. Alice has also spent the last few years renovating their home. However, the couple plans on traveling the world starting this summer. Additionally, they bought a camper trailer in order to satisfy their love of traveling and hiking.

Over the summer, the two plan to begin their journey in Amsterdam, where Wiewel hails from, in order to visit his family. Their next destination is Spain, where they will spend several months living this fall.

“I want to focus on things totally different from higher education,” Wiewel said. “I want to think about the Islamic influence on Spain, the history of Spanish painting, Spanish food, Spanish wines, the landscape (and) the villages.”

Between the two of them, Alice and Wiewel have four children and two grandchildren. They hope to spend time enjoying their presence in the future.

“They’re, of course, the most amazing grandchildren in the world,” Wiewel said.

As a final message of farewell, Wiewel encouraged the Palatine Hill community to “take care of each other” and to foster an environment where differences of opinion are supported.

“Give people the benefit of the doubt,” Wiewel said.

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About Ihsaan Mohamed 13 Articles
Ihsaan Mohamed '22 has been writing for The Pioneer Log since her freshman year. She loved it so much that she joined again her sophomore year. Only this time as an opinion editor. She believes everyone deserves to be heard and hopes to support and encourage the variety of voices who write for the newspaper. Ihsaan is an International Affairs Major and Middle East and North African studies minor. As an IA major, she is incredibly passionate about human rights and hopes to pursue a career in law. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, golfing, baking, and hanging out with her huge but wonderful family.

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