A native of Montreal, Canada, Professor Wihl is a highly respected scholar, academic leader, author and university administrator.
In his most recent posts, he has served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis (2009-2012) as well as Dean of the Humanities at Rice University (2003-2009) and Acting Dean of Emory University’s Laney Graduate School.
At Rice University, Wihl was responsible for 12 departments, three centers, four interdepartmental programs, 150 tenure-track faculty and lecturers, 50 administrative staff and a budget of approximately $26 million. During his tenure as dean there, Wihl raised more than $40 million, including one of the largest single gifts in Rice’s history in the amount of $20 million for the recruitment of star faculty. His principal accomplishments included the establishment of a new doctoral program in art history in collaboration with Houston’s major art museums; increasing support for faculty research by 348 percent; increasing graduate stipends by 32.5 percent; and adding postdoctoral fellowships in the fields of gender studies, classics, linguistics and German studies.
With the support of the Andrew Mellon Foundation, he developed an innovative training program for doctoral students in the humanities. He also launched new undergraduate programs in creative writing, poverty and social justice studies, a package of study-abroad fellowships and courses, and a pilot program in medical humanities. Wihl built strong relationships with alumni and the Houston community through the establishment of the Humanities Advisory Board, which consists of distinguished alumni from the fields of arts, investment banking, venture capital and law.
While Dean of Arts & Sciences at Washington University, Wihl oversaw roughly 400 faculty and 375 administrative staff, 20 departments, 15 interdepartmental programs and 13 centers, with a budget of approximately $240 million. During his tenure, Wihl played an important role in recruiting key faculty and academic leaders, including the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and the director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics. He also oversaw the redevelopment of Umrath and Cupples II halls.
Wihl's research focuses on the interpretation of liberalism and constitutional change in selected 19th- and 20th-century English and American authors. He is the author of two books published by Yale University Press: Ruskin and the Rhetoric of Infallibility and The Contingency of Theory: Pragmatism, Expressivism, and Deconstruction.
Co-editor of two other books, Wihl is also the author of several collections of essays, and he has received numerous awards and grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, among others.