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Wendler, Walter V. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Wendler, Walter V.
Fuller Form: Wendler, Walter Victor

Historical Note:

Walter V. Wendler was the Chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale from July 1, 2001 to November 15, 2006.  He was raised near Northport, New York and graduated high school there in 1968.  He married Mary L. Haney in 1973 and they had two sons.  He received an associate degree in applied science from the State University of New York at Farmingdale, a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from Texas A&M University (1972), a master’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas.

Wendler held a variety of positions in higher education prior to his chancellorship.  He was an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture and Louisiana State University, where his research focused on energy use and its effect on design.  Wendler then served as a faculty member in the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University from 1981-2001.  He was the inaugural holder of the William M. Peña Professorship of Information Management in the college.  During this time, he also held administrative positions including: Executive Associate Dean (1988-1989), head of the Department of Architecture (1989-1992), two appointments as Dean of the College of Architecture (1992 and 1996), Executive Assistant to the President of Texas A&M University (1997-1999), and Vice Chancellor for Planning of The Texas A&M University System (1999-2001).

As Chancellor of SIUC, Wendler initiated “Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment,” a visionary plan to place SIUC among the top 75 public research universities in the United States by 2019.  It articulated goals and action items in 10 areas of commitment: seek and celebrate faculty excellence; lead in research, scholarly, and creative activity; offer progressive graduate education; promote excellence in undergraduate academics; engage the whole student; provide assertive and deliberate leadership; enhance the library and knowledge resources; serve others; enrich the campus; and cultivate resources.  The plan launched in 2003, but was criticized by the Higher Learning Commission and the Washington Advisory Group as being unrealistic and lacking specifics on obtaining the resources needed to achieve its goals.  Wendler was also accused of plagiarizing parts of the plan from strategic planning work he did while at Texas A&M.

Perhaps the most successful aspect of “Southern at 150” was the Saluki Way, a capital improvement campaign that resulted in $275 million spent on improving campus infrastructure.  Some of the completed projects included the construction of Saluki Stadium, the Troutt-Wittmann Academic and Training Center, the Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex, and the Student Services Building, as well as renovations to SIU Arena, Richard "Itchy" Jones Stadium, and Morris Library.

In November 2006, SIU System President Glenn Poshard relieved Wendler of his duties and reassigned him as a tenured, full professor in SIUC’s School of Architecture.  Dr. John P. Dunn was became interim Chancellor on November 15.  Wendler was appointed Director of the School of Architecture in July 2008 and retired from SIUC in 2015.  He was then named the President of West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

Wendler is a member of a number of honorary societies, a registered architect (retired) in Illinois and holds the National Council of Architectural Registration Board’s certificate.  He is also a distinguished alumni of the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University, and was recognized by the Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University with a Distinguished Teaching Award.


"Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment," Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 2003.

Caleb Hale, “SIU Reassigns Wendler,” The Southern Illinoisan, November 9, 2006.

Codell Rodriguez, “SIUC Revisits Southern at 150,” The Southern Illinoisan, November 25, 2010.

Anna Spoerre, “Former SIU Chancellor Named Sole Finalist for West Texas A&M Presidential Spot,” The Daily Egyptian, August 9, 2016.

Molly Parker, “Ambitious, Controversial former SIU Chancellor Wendler named President of West Texas A&M,” The Southern Illinoisan, August 8, 2016.

“Saluki Way,” Southern Illinois University Plant and Service Operations, Facility Improvements, (accessed December 21, 2018).

“Dr. Walter V. Wendler,” Southern Illinois University School of Architecture, Faculty and Staff, (accessed December 21, 2018).

“Walter V. Wendler,” Southern Illinois University Chancellor, (accessed December 21, 2018).

Walter V. Wendler, “About the Author – Walter Wendler,” (accessed December 21, 2018).

“Water V. Wendler,” Texas A&M University College of Architecture, (accessed December 21, 2018).

Note Author: Matt Gorzalski

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