Bill Wilkins, dean of the Oregon State University College of Liberal Arts from 1982 through 1994, died Oct. 18, 2023. He was 92.
Wilkins was born in Paducah, Texas, on July 17, 1931, to Hughel Homer Wilkins and Grace Couch Wilkins. He graduated from Corpus Christi High School in 1948 and Del Mar Junior College in 1950. In 1951, he enlisted in the Air Force and flew combat missions in Korea. In July 1953, having earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with cluster, and other awards, he finished his tour and returned to the U.S.
In 1955, he enrolled in Texas A&M College, Kingsville, and was awarded a bachelor’s degree in 1956. In 1957 he received a master’s degree and accepted a position as instructor in economics at Texas Tech College. In 1961 he received his doctorate in economics from The University of Texas-Austin, after which he joined the economics faculty at Oregon State.
During his time at OSU, he was twice elected to head the Faculty Senate. He also served as staff economist for the Committee on Ways and Means of the U.S. House of Representatives and as the associate administrator for policy and international aviation of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Wilkins was appointed dean of the OSU College of Liberal Arts in 1982 and served a year as the university’s acting vice president of academic affairs and provost. He then took an assignment to survey the internationalization of western U. S. research universities before returning to his position as dean. He also served as president of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences, the national organization of arts and sciences deans, in 1992-93. He was awarded emeritus status from Oregon State in 1994.
Wilkins was a member of the OSU Flying Club for more than 40 years. He did aviation policy research with the OSU Transportation Institute, served on and chaired the Corvallis Airport Commission, and was the first chairman of the newly created Oregon State Aviation Board.
Wilkins is survived by his wife Caroline, son Brian Wilkins and granddaughters Abigail Elizabeth and Elizabeth Grace Wilkins of Enterprise, Alabama, as well as nieces and nephews.
Remembrances can be made to the Bill & Caroline Wilkins Faculty Development Award through the OSU Foundation, 4238 S.W. Research Way, Corvallis, OR 97333.