Wilken honored by citation
Lifelong volunteer and retired entrepreneur Bill Wilken was recently recognized by his alma mater Denison University with an alumni citation, the highest honor bestowed upon a graduate or friend of the college. Wilken and his wife Jane are members of the Denison classes of 1963 and 1964, respectively.
After receiving a master’s from Emory University and a doctorate from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, Wilken began his professional career teaching in Georgia State University’s political science department, where he was offered tenure and rank as an associate professor. After several years, he left university life to join the world of public policy research and advocacy in Washington, D.C., where Wilken wrote and spoke extensively on school finance reform and became an authority on the subject upon his election as a director of the American Education Finance Association.
In the early 1980s, Wilken changed careers again, this time becoming an entrepreneur in the burgeoning field of information technology. He says this was “a rather ironic choice for someone who assiduously avoided any technical or scientific coursework at Denison.” He eventually formed a business relationship with the seemingly unlikely combination of a retired Navy ship driver and a cabinet importer. Their venture blossomed into CMS Information Services, a firm with several hundred employees that was a three-time member of the “Inc. 500” list. Wilken retired as the company’s chief information officer and director of the board when they sold the firm to a Fortune 500 corporation in 2005.
Wilken and his wife returned to Granville seven years ago, “in search of life on a human scale that always seemed beyond reach in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. where we lived for over 30 years.” In retirement, he has volunteered extensively at Denison, enjoying two terms on the board of the Denison University Research Foundation, co-chairing the Denison class of 1963’s 45th Reunion Committee and joining several other classmates on their 50th Reunion Steering Committee. Wilken also has served on the governing boards of the Granville Community Foundation and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
Wilken says, “Looking back, if I were to write philosophy of life paper, its message would be succinct: “Life is Simple: It’s All About Family, Faith, Friends and Education.”
Denison University is a leading national college of liberal arts and sciences where students from around the world come to pursue academic inquiry and research, to analyze and solve problems, and to forge the skills needed to succeed. On a beautiful, fully residential campus, students build enduring relationships and pathways to the professions, supported by faculty mentorship in classrooms, laboratories and studios; through a wealth of career-launch programs and internships; and in partnership with a thriving, far-reaching alumni network. Denison’s place at the forefront of higher education is recognized by “Colleges That Change Lives,” U.S. News, and Forbes, among others.