Legacy - Wilbur Wheaton

Posted by Janae Melvin on April 26, 2018 in
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Wilbur Wheaton ’54, President Emeritus of Ottawa University, passed away on August 19, 2017, at the age of 84. Wheaton was the first Ottawa University graduate to serve as University president and was the 14th person to lead the University, stepping into the role in 1983 He was awarded the rare “Emeritus” status by the board of trustees upon his retirement from the OU presidency in 1992, with the board noting its gratitude for his steadfast and selfless service in support of the OU mission.
 
During Wheaton’s nine-year tenure at the helm of OU, he oversaw many renovations to the College campus. Behan Hall transitioned to the Vera Wise Technology Center to prepare for the digital age, which was then nascent. Ward Science Hall was renovated and a modern, handicapped accessible wing was added. Atkinson Hall became the campus center for music and theatre. Martin Hall, Wilson Field House and the Mabee Center were renovated and restored. In anticipation of an increased need for technology campus wide, new fiber optics connected all facilities and computer labs were set-up in the residence halls while he was president.
 
Wheaton also made curriculum changes including the reintroduction of debate and forensics and the creation of degree programs in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.
 
In 1984, Wheaton, along with his wife Ellen Ann, established the Wilbur and Ellen Ann Wheaton Scholarship Fund, which annually benefits a music student enrolled at OU. Wheaton is survived by his wife, Ellen Ann ’54, daughter Wendy Den-Herder ’91 (Brian), son Kevin Wheaton (Marilee), and daughter Deanna Andrews (William), and six grandchildren.