Indiana University Bloomington

Much to do, and he did it all

Chuck Bonser, dean emeritus School of Public and Environmental Affairs

My wife, Nancy, and I are now wintering in Florida, but we learned last night about the passing of Herman Wells. I was one of the young administrators in the late 1960s and 1970s that the chancellor took the trouble to counsel. In the '60s I ran a study of Indiana's colleges and university facility needs and he was then head of the Indiana Higher Education Facilities Commission, which doled out federal dollars for construction. So we became well-acquainted. He was also particularly helpful to me when we were setting up SPEA in the early 1970s, and I would drop by to get his advice on a variety of issues. He had considerable impact behind the scenes at IU and in the state, as well as through his more visible activities.

A couple of personal experiences about him will always stick in my memory. George Pinnell and I were visiting Thailand in 1970 — George was then dean of the business school, and I was his associate dean. The Thai Management Association had a luncheon for us, and in the reception line we were introduced to Prince Wan — the uncle of the King. When he learned we were from IU, he said, "Oh, and how is Herman?" We said he was fine. Then he said, "And how is his mother?"

When I retired in 1997, he was kind enough to come to my retirement dinner and party. The next day I got a note from him: "Chuck," he said, "I've been thinking about this and I think you are too young to retire (I was almost 65). There is still much to do." In any case, that was clearly his philosophy. There was always much to do, and he did it all of his life. He is truly irreplaceable.

From Remembering Herman B Wells, 1901-2000:, March 22, 2000

Thanks to the Bloomington Herald-Times for allowing Digital Wells to publish these excerpts from their archive.