It’s with more than a tinge of sadness that we bid farewell to University of Washington (UW) Provost Phyllis Wise. It was announced on Wednesday, Aug. 3, that Wise is leaving the UW for a top position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
It’s a prestigious job, to be sure. UIUC is widely considered a “public ivy,” and it is a member of the Big Ten Conference (athletics).
During this past year, Wise was featured in our paper because she was appointed interim president of the UW after former president Mark Emmert departed for a job at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Wise was the first official female and first Asian American president of the UW.
Her term as interim president nine months and ended recently on June 30. Long before it was up, many were already speculating whether she would be offered a permanent position.
Though not formally applying, she was actually considered as a candidate by the UW Board of Regents. An insider told us she was one of the top three finalists.
Publicly throughout everything, Wise maintained that she was concentrating on doing her best for the university and its students as interim president.
Though a controversial figure at times, which is expected given her position, we have always found her a refreshingly frank leader who listens.
Though we’d like to thank Wise for being an incredible leader during her six-year tenure at the UW, we also believe that it’s time for her to move on.
The UW’s loss is UIUC’s gain, and we wish her the best in her endeavor.
Wise was born to Chinese parents who immigrated to the United States before World War II for the sake of their education. Her father already had a medical degree from Beijing Union Medical College when he earned his doctorate from Northwestern University. Her mother already had a nursing degree from Yenching University before she earned a degree in nursing education from Columbia Teacher’s College.
Wise’s success shows the importance of education and the importance of having predecessors to help lead the way. Hopefully, in her new position at UIUC, Wise will continue her parents’ legacy and will always serve as an inspiration to Asian Americans and women who aim to break into prestigious roles that have been traditionally held by men. ♦