By Mary Jo Spiegel
Lois and Charles Wise share many loves. For each other, certainly – they’ve been married for more than 40 years – but they also share a love for world travel, Native American art, hiking near their beautiful Arizona homes, public management scholarship, and Indiana University. And they share a desire to encourage others to pursue public management scholarship at IU while worrying less about funding. To that end, they’ve established the Drs. Lois Recascino Wise and Charles R. Wise SPEA Public Management Fellowship for second-year MPA students pursuing a concentration in public management at SPEA in Bloomington.
Lois grew up in New Jersey, adjacent to New York City, while Charlie grew up splitting his time between Arizona and Washington, D.C. Both came to IU to study political science, and for both, receiving funding was critical to their academic decisions.
“When we started our graduate degrees and our doctoral programs, we were both non-residents and very fortunate to get funding from Indiana University,” Lois recalls. “That made a big difference.”
Now, they hope their fellowship will make a big difference each year to students following a similar academic path.
“We thought this could be a way for our small gift to have a big impact on an individual student and establish an incentive for students deciding whether or not to pursue public management,” Lois says.
They understand not every student comes into SPEA, even at the graduate level, completely certain of what area they want to concentrate on in their studies.
“When I came to IU, I was going to focus on electoral politics,” Charlie says. “But then I got involved with John Ryan and professors in public administration, and discovered public administration during the course of my study. I think that’s a story that’s pretty common.” Charlie was working for IU President John Ryan when Ryan tapped him to help launch a new school of public administration and environmental science, and he was the first faculty member appointed to the new school, SPEA.
Lois and Charlie met at a meeting of the Indiana Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. One of their first dates was attending an IU basketball game during a season when Bobby Knight and his team were undefeated. Two years later, Charlie proposed to Lois on the shores of Lake Monroe and they were married at Beck Chapel. While they now make their home in Arizona, their IU ties run deep.
“But what makes IU most special to us is the people,” Lois says. “The fantastic staff, the wonderful faculty, and the beautiful campus. It’s fun to see how SPEA grows and progresses.”
“One of the things that’s special to me, given where we started in the Poplars building, is to see how far SPEA has gone,” Charlie says. “IU went from arguably less than nowhere in the field of public affairs before SPEA was created to the highest ranked program in the country. To see how far it’s come is gratifying.”
For the Wises, giving back as a way to express gratitude for their own experiences extends beyond SPEA. Charlie remains involved with the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University, where he was founding director. “I thought I’d recreate the SPEA experience in Ohio,” he laughs.
Both Charlie and Lois feel fortunate for the time they have spent abroad. As director of the U.S. AID Parliamentary Development Project for Ukraine, Charlie spent a great deal of time in that country. “The opportunity to study and research overseas is something that enriches you throughout your whole career,” Lois says. As a student, she spent about six months in England attending Bletchley College which is part of the Oxford University system and located in the now famous Bletchley Park. That experience, for which she had no funding, motivated her to create the Fellowship for the Institute for European Studies at IU’s School of Global and International Studies, to help cover airfare and housing for students studying abroad.
“Be engaged in the world around you,” Lois advises. “Understand that when you get your degree you are not done with your education,” Charlie adds. Although technically retired, the Wises have not stopped working – they continue advancing public management research through writing, working with students, and teaching, with Charlie still teaching, now at the University of Arizona.
“We both feel happy with our careers,” Lois says. “We’ve done a lot, it was intellectually stimulating, and IU was a great place to work.”
That’s an experience that their generosity will help make possible for future scholars in public management at SPEA. “The Wise Public Management Fellowship is a thoughtful and timely addition to the Wise’s remarkable legacy in the field of public management,” says Dean John D. Graham. “We are excited to name the first Wise Fellows.”