WUSTL’s new Arts & Sciences dean to be installed as the Lewin Distinguished Professor in the Humanities

Gary S. Wihl, Ph.D., who joined Washington University July 1 as dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences, will be installed as the Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professor in the Humanities during a 4:30 p.m. ceremony Wednesday, Sept. 16, announced Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

The ceremony will be held in the Jerzewiak Family Auditorium in the Arts & Sciences Laboratory Sciences Building.


Wihl, who also is a professor in the Department of English in Arts & Sciences, came to WUSTL from Rice University, where he was dean of its School of Humanities and the Francis Moody Newman Professor of the Humanities.

“Washington University is fortunate to have Gary Wihl join our academic leadership team,” Wrighton said. “As an accomplished professor and experienced leader, Gary will guide Arts & Sciences during this important time in our history.”

“Gary Wihl brings a tremendous record of success to Arts & Sciences,” said Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., provost, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs and the Barbara and David Thomas Distinguished Professor in Arts & Sciences.

“His reputation as a scholar and administrator is well-known, and his interest in strengthening our academic departments and interdisciplinary programs is most welcome. I am thrilled that Gary and his wife, Sarah, have joined the Washington University community,” Macias said.

Sarah Westphal-Wihl, Ph.D., joined the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures in Arts & Sciences as associate professor.

Wihl, who will deliver a talk titled “The Art of Education” at his installation ceremony, said: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to address the University community as an educator and scholar as well as in my role as dean. It is an honor for me to hold this titled professorship. I’m very grateful to the chancellor and provost for this appointment, and I look forward to meeting Phyllis Goldberg, the Lewins’ niece, at the ceremony on the 16th.”

As dean of Rice University’s School of Humanities, Wihl was responsible for 12 departments, three centers and four interdepartmental programs; 150 tenure-track faculty and lecturers and 50 administrative staff; and a budget of approximately $26 million.

During his six-year tenure as dean, Wihl raised more than $40 million, including one of the largest single gifts in Rice’s history in the amount of $20 million for the recruitment of star faculty.

His principal accomplishments included the establishment of a new doctoral program in art history in collaboration with Houston’s major art museums; increasing support for faculty research by 348 percent; increasing graduate stipends by 32.5 percent; and adding postdoctoral fellowships in the fields of gender studies, classics, linguistics and German studies.

With the support of the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Wihl developed an innovative training program for doctoral students in the humanities. He also launched new undergraduate programs in creative writing, poverty and social justice studies; a package of study-abroad fellowships and courses; and a pilot program in medical humanities.

Wihl built strong relationships with alumni and the Houston community through the establishment of a Humanities Advisory Board consisting of distinguished alumni from the arts, investment banking, venture capital and legal professions.

Prior to joining Rice, Wihl was at Emory University, where he was professor of English and acting dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for more than two years.

His many achievements at Emory included restructuring the graduate-school budget to phase in fifth-year funding for doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences; organizing a major national conference on philanthropy and the research university; and sponsoring the establishment of a new Center for Humanistic Inquiry.

A native of Montreal, Canada, Wihl earned a bachelor’s degree in 1976 and a master’s degree in 1978, both in English, from McGill University. He earned a doctorate in English from Yale University in 1983.

Following two postdoctoral fellowships, he returned to McGill in 1985 as assistant professor of English and was promoted to associate professor in 1989 and to professor in 1996.

While at McGill, he served as associate dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research from 1991-93 and from 1996-99 as chair of the Department of English, where he eliminated an operating deficit, increased support for graduate students, revitalized the theater program, recruited new faculty and restructured the departmental curriculum.

Wihl’s research focuses on the interpretation of liberalism and constitutional change in selected 19th- and 20th-century English and American authors.

He is the author of two books published by Yale University Press — “The Contingency of Theory, Pragmatism, Expressivism, and Deconstruction” and “Ruskin and the Rhetoric of Infallibility” — and co-editor of two collections of essays.

He has received numerous awards and grants, including many from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities was established in 1987 by a gift from the late Tobias Lewin to honor his wife, Hortense, who died in 1983. The gift also reflects Tobias Lewin’s interest in the humanities and his desire to create more awareness of the importance of the humanities and a liberal-arts education. Tobias Lewin died in 2001.

Wihl becomes the third holder of the professorship. Lynne Tatlock, Ph.D., a professor of Germanic languages and literatures, also holds the Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities, and Naomi Lebowitz, Ph.D., is the Hortense and Tobias Lewin Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Humanities.

The Lewins, both WUSTL alumni, made many other significant contributions to their alma mater, including an endowed professorship in the School of Medicine to further research in cardiovascular diseases.

Douglas L. Mann, M.D., is the Tobias and Hortense Lewin Professor and director of the Cardiovascular Division in the Department of Medicine.