William H. Wisely


William H. Wisely

Civil Engineer – Administrator – Educator

Public Health – Professional Organizations – Teaching

Thirty-second National Honor Member Nominated by the University of Illinois Chapter

William H. Wisely has used his talents in many ways throughout his illustrious career and thereby brings honor to his alma mater, the University of Illinois, and Chi Epsilon Fraternity. William H. (Pete) Wisely is the first member of Chi Epsilon to be elevated that was initiated as an undergraduate student (University of Illinois, 1928).

A native of Coulterville, Illinois, Pete Wisely was graduated from the University of Illinois, receiving his bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1928, and a professional degree in civil engineering in 1941. He was honored in 1967 with an honorary doctor of engineering degree by Norwich University for his contributions to the engineering profession and to the control of water pollution. In 1968, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the University of Illinois Civil Engineering Alumni Association, and in 1972, the university conferred on him its Alumni Honor Award.

Dr. William H. Wisely was born October 20, 1906, the son of William B. and Helen Burkhardt Wisely. He was married to Hazel A. Steinberg on June 235, 1930, and they have two daughters.

His twenty-eight year career in the field of sanitary engineering included service with the Illinois State Water Survey as an engineering assistant, the Illinois State Department of Public Health as an assistant sanitary engineer, the Urbana-Champaign (Illinois) Sanitary District as engineer manager, and 14 years as executive secretary and editor of the Water Pollution Control Federation. He is a Diplomate of the American Academy of Environment Engineers and is a registered professional engineer in New York and Illinois.

On May 1, 1955, William H. Wisely became the executive secretary of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the oldest national organization of engineers in the United States. He held the post, which later became executive director, until his retirement on April 30, 1972. His administrative capability and keen insight into the engineering profession is represented by the accomplishments and growth of the American Society of Civil Engineers during his tenure in office.

Mr. Wisely was a visiting scholar at the University of Florida (1972-78) and the University of Virginia, serving on many consulting assignments until his death in November, 1982. A special lecturer in civil engineering at the University of Illinois since 1943 until his retirement from the ASCE, Mr. Wisely had contributed much to the technical literature on water pollution control. He was an honorary member of the Water Pollution Control Federation and held its Kenneth Allen Award. He represented the State of Illinois in the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission for several years, and was a member of the New York State Public Health Council.

Mr. Wisely joined the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1936 and was elected to the grade of honorary member in 1973. He became president of the society’s Capital Chapter of the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was an honorary member of the Illinois Society of Professional Engineers and a member of the American Water Works Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Society of Professional Engineers and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His affiliations abroad have included the Engineering Institute of Canada and national engineering societies in Belgium, Panama, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and the Republic of Columbia.

As executive director of ASCE, Mr. Wisely had participated in a broad spectrum of professional engineering activities. Among these were his service as a director of Engineers Joint Council (1956-64), as secretary of Engineers’ Council for Professional Development (1955-56 and 1960-61), and as a trustee (1960-72) of the United Engineering Trustees. He was also a director of the Engineering Foundation (1968-72) and a co-founder of the Interprofessional Commission on Environmental Design, on which he served from 1963 to 1972.

Internationally, he served as general secretary of the Conference of Engineering Societies of Western Europe and the U.S.A. (EUSEC) from 1958 to 1961. As chairman of its advisory committee from 1961 to 1972, he was a leader in the movement to create the World Federation of Engineering Organizations. Mr. Wisely also served as a director of the Pan-American Federation of Engineering Societies (UPADI) from 1964 to 1972.

His particular interest in educational matters is manifested by his service on advisory committees to the civil engineering departments of Norwich University, Manhattan College, and civil engineering education research at the University of Florida.

Mr. Wisely was first elected to Chi Epsilon as an undergraduate of the University of Illinois chapter in 1928, and the Supreme Council of the Fraternity elevated William H. Wisely as the 32nd National Honor Member on October 16, 1969.

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