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Dr. Wild announces retirement


Writer(s): Steve Scherer


After 38 years at Purdue University, Dr. Robert E. Wild, Assistant Head of the Department of Chemistry, has announced his retirement in June 2015. Chemistry will honor his years of service with a department-wide celebration on Monday, June 29, 2015 from 3:00-4:30pm in Leighty Commons (the Wetherill main lobby.)

Dr. Wild came to Purdue as a chemistry graduate student in 1977, after completing a Bachelor Science in Chemistry at Illinois Benedictine College (now Benedictine University.) He completed his doctoral degree in inorganic chemistry in 1982 under the direction of Professor Richard Walton.  Following a period of employment as an academic advisor in the College of Science, he joined the Department of Chemistry as Assistant to the Head and was subsequently named Assistant Head of the department.

He has served the department and the College of Science with distinction through the tenure of no fewer than eight (8) department heads since 1982.  As an administrator, he has served as director of graduate admissions and graduate student advisor to hundreds of students.  He oversees academic support services for the department including laboratory management/safety, course scheduling, academic advising, procurement, K-12 outreach, and communications.

“Bob’s deep knowledge of the department and its best practices have been an incredible asset to me and the previous department heads who have looked to him for advice, and found him an able source of ideas when facing the day-to-day challenges of running a department the size of ours,” said Timothy Zwier, current department head and M. G. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

His broad connections with Chemistry alumni have cultivated impactful relationships for the university where he has served as a member of the advancement team, leading several fundraising projects for the department, extending to all aspects of alumni relationships, including identification of distinguished alumni, serving as an organizer for Chemistry Department Advisory Committee meetings, and interfacing with industrial partners.

Dr. Wild took a leadership role in the design and construction of the Drug Discovery Building, the newly minted Leighty Commons that serves as the entrance to the Wetherill Laboratory, and several lab renovations in the Wetherill Building. He was also instrumental in organizing events to celebrate Ei-ichi Negishi’s 2010 Nobel Prize, co-authored the nomination of Wetherill Laboratory as a National Historic Chemical Landmark in 2013, and helped the department navigate the process to becoming the first chemistry department in the United States accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

He was a 1991 recipient of Chemistry’s Outstanding Service Award and was awarded the department’s Wetherill Medal in 2013 for “outstanding efforts in the service of the Department while also making major contributions to scholarship or teaching.”

At the university level he has served as the campus-wide chair for United Way. He was the first chairman of the university’s Administrative and Professional Staff Advisory Committee (APSAC).  He has served on the Business Services Advisory Council and the College of Science Alumni Board, as well as several other campus advisory groups.