President Wiewel’s Top 10 Accomplishments

After a storied 44-year career in higher education—including two presidencies, one at Portland State University and the other at Lewis & Clark—President Wim Wiewel is retiring. He leaves L&C with a long list of accomplishments, a few of which we’ve compiled into this “Top 10” list.

Instilled hope in a bright future for Lewis & Clark. President Wim Wiewel arrived on Palatine Hill in 2017 with relentless optimism and the experience and skills necessary to put Lewis & Clark on the positive trajectory it enjoys today. With a commitment to greater transparency and clear communication, he has sparked a renewal of hope, as demonstrated by the generous commitments of donors, improved student recruiting, exciting new programming, and the physical revitalization of campus.

Developed a strategic plan with clear goals and metrics for success. Titled “Exploring for the Global Good,” L&C’s strategic plan has served as a road map for how to increase enrollment, enhance the academic experience, improve the college’s financial position, bring new focus to equity and inclusion, and revitalize campus facilities. The plan has successfully guided the college’s decision making since its adoption in 2018.

Raised more than $121 million in new private funding for scholarships, faculty, facilities, and programs by launching the college’s first major fundraising campaign in 20 years. The campaign is well on its way to reaching its goal of $155 million. It has engaged alumni who have not been in contact with the college for many years, as well as those who have been ongoing supporters. The campaign is also an essential step toward establishing a strong culture of philanthropy at Lewis & Clark in which success today leads to greater success in the future.

Launched the first major building projects on campus in more than 10 years. Students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders were engaged in developing the Campus Facilities Master Plan, which is designed to enhance the residential experience; strengthen connection with the natural environment; and promote adaptive reuse of the college’s historic and contemporary buildings. The plan recasts the center of campus as a dynamic student life and residential district. The first step in that plan, a major renovation of our aging student center, is already under way. Improvements to Huston Sports Complex are queued up to follow, with renovation of the Stewart and Odell residence halls close behind.

Laid the groundwork for enrollment of the largest total number of degree-seeking students in the college’s history. Despite a global pandemic and demographic headwinds challenging colleges and universities across the country, Wiewel supported several initiatives that made the admissions achievement of fall 2021 possible, including: a) revised admissions and financial aid approaches that assure we are attracting and supporting students who can succeed at L&C; b) the 4-5-6 Commitment which enhances pathways between L&C’s three schools; and c) investments in strategic areas that build on our academic strengths, such as entrepreneurship and health studies. Applications for fall 2022 suggest next year’s enrollment will maintain this momentum.

Refinanced the college’s debt, which improved the institution’s financial position and made additional funds available for infrastructure projects. Taking advantage of historically low rates, the refinancing provides lower annual debt service and additional capital funding. Proceeds from our bond sale were matched by donor funds to finance the renovation of the student center. They also will be used to renovate student housing and fund other long-delayed capital projects.

Renewed the college’s commitment to the overall student experience as an essential element of recruiting and supporting students. Examples of this commitment include the renovation of the student center; the recently announced additions of women’s lacrosse and men’s soccer as varsity sports; and the launch of a holistic First-Year Experience program to improve the undergraduate experience of entering students.

Pushed the college to better reflect the diversity of our nation by establishing diversity, equity, and inclusion as one of six major goals of the college’s strategic plan. Since 2017, the percentage of faculty who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) has increased by almost half, from 16 percent to 23 percent, with staff diversity increasing by two points over the same time period. Wiewel also launched various initiatives to enhance student diversity, such as the Posse Scholars program, which welcomed its first cohort of exceptional students from diverse backgrounds in fall 2021. Two new cohorts will matriculate in fall 2022.

Led the college safely through COVID-19 and other crises, including health and safety emergencies caused by ice storms and wildfire smoke. L&C’s success in weathering these crises with minimal disruption to its educational program is a testament to Wiewel’s steady leadership and the creativity as well as the hard work of his leadership team. Even more remarkably, the college emerged from these crises in a stronger position than before the pandemic, with increased enrollment, new programs, capital investments, and an improved bottom line.

Assembled a leadership team of talented and highly qualified individuals who are well positioned to help L&C’s next president, Robin Holmes-Sullivan, lead the college forward. As Wiewel has noted, a successful president isn’t an individual who single-handedly achieves great things; it is an individual who creates a climate where community members can do their best work. Part of creating that climate is to bring together a team of leaders who are not only talented and competent, but who also communicate confidence in the future as well as commitment and support to their own teams.

A rendering showing the interior of the renovated student center, currently in progress. A rendering showing the interior of the renovated student center, currently in progress.