One man’s impact on something is never simple to measure when it is all said and done. However, Gary Phillips’ 15 year career and impending retirement has not only influenced students over the last decade and a half, but several faculty members who were hired during Phillips’ time as the Dean of the College from 2006-2014.
Hired as the Dean of the College following the one-year of Raymond B. Williams, LaFollettee Distinguished Professor in the Humanities Emeritus from 2005-2006, Phillips came into the fold tasked with a role many members of the Wabash community would not be able to take on successfully.
“He was respected by the service, faculty, the alumni, as much as any person removed from the President (of the College),” said Williams. The acclaim and recognition gained through his eight years as the Dean of the College did not come right away, as the tasks and choices placed upon the individuals in this position are not for the light-hearted.
“The Dean of the College, the chief academic officer is responsible for the recommendations when it comes to faculty hires and other daily responsibilities, and it makes me glad I was only in this position for one year,” said Williams.
For many people, it is difficult to ascertain how to be successful in a role as a Dean and as a Professor, but Phillips was able to address both differently and in his own way.
“While he was serving as Dean or as a professor, I think the word consistent is accurate in describing his fifteen years here. Throughout his time here he had nothing but a deep commitment to the College and to the wellbeing of Wabash students and the Wabash community,” said Professor Jon Baer, Associate Professor of Religion and Department Chair of Religion.
It is easy to say someone cared about the Wabash community and the future success of the institution, but Phillips more than anyone else is responsible for many of the faculty members at the College today.
“So, he has had a direct hand in significantly shaping our current faculty and the later role of these individuals for Wabash students,” said Baer.
Although the circumstances under which Phillips is not retiring is not ideal, his contributuion to the College during his time here will not be shortly forgotten. Over the last semester, Phillips and his wife have resided in North Carolina, and are expected to return for Commencement on May 15th.