Ohio Wesleyan is receiving a $2 million estate gift to support the chemistry faculty. Department Chair Heather Grunkemeyer calls the gift ‘a great reminder about the impact we make on our student’s lives.’

Ohio Wesleyan Receives $2 Million Commitment To Support Chemistry Department

Gift from Alumni Couple Michael G. Wise, Elizabeth A. McNaughton Wise to Create Endowed Faculty Chair

By Cole Hatcher

DELAWARE, Ohio – It seems especially fitting that Ohio Wesleyan University graduates Michael G. Wise, Class of 1966, and his wife, Elizabeth A. McNaughton Wise, Class of 1964, of Sacramento, California, are pledging $2 million to create an endowed faculty chair in chemistry at their alma mater.

Not only did Michael Wise major in chemistry and economics – later earning his medical degree and becoming a successful psychiatrist – but he and Elizabeth “Buffie” McNaughton, a clothing and business major, also met on campus, sparking a reaction that has resulted in nearly 50 years of marriage. At OWU, Elizabeth was a member of Pi Beta Phi, and Michael was a member and president of Delta Tau Delta.

“Dr. Roy Bossert, who taught organic chemistry and was chairman of OWU’s chemistry department, was an excellent teacher,” Michael Wise said. “He also encouraged me to pursue medicine during a visit to OWU several years after my graduation. Those words of encouragement were important and appreciated.”

The couple wants to support OWU’s chemistry faculty, Michael said, because they know the value of natural sciences to a liberal arts education. As a result, they will create the “Michael and Elizabeth Wise Endowed Chair in Chemistry” with a $2 million estate gift. Their commitment comes as they prepare to celebrate both five decades of marriage and Mike’s 50-year class reunion. Their gift supports Ohio Wesleyan’s “Connect Today, Create Tomorrow” capital campaign, which has raised $89 million since the launch of its leadership phase in July 2014.

Heather Grunkemeyer, Ph.D., chair of OWU’s Department of Chemistry, said the couple’s gift is both meaningful and motivating to current faculty. “The department is truly thankful for donors like the Wise family,” Grunkemeyer said. “To have alumni that feel strongly both about the university and department is a great reminder about the impact we make on our student’s lives.”

Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D., also said the university is grateful for the couple’s investment into the Department of Chemistry, its faculty, and its students.

“As alumni, both Michael and Elizabeth Wise understand the impact Ohio Wesleyan professors can have on their students’ lives not only as educators, but also as mentors, fellow researchers, professional colleagues, and friends,” Jones said. “They also understand and exemplify the virtues of a liberal arts education as evidenced by their extraordinary leadership and professional accomplishment in so many different and important areas, including health care and the environment. We are proud of these accomplished alumni and honored that Michael and Elizabeth are recognizing and supporting the power of their OWU experiences by creating the Wise Endowed Chair in Chemistry.”

The couple married on Saturday, June 18, 1966, and Michael underwent his military physical the following Monday. To the surprise of both, this began Michael’s 21-year career in the U.S. Air Force, including a year in Vietnam. Military service also sent the couple to San Antonio and Amarillo, Texas; Riverhead, New York; Omaha, Nebraska; Cleveland, Ohio; and Boston, Massachusetts. Michael ended his service in San Antonio, retiring as a colonel in 1987.

He earned his medical degree from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland and had a distinguished career as a psychiatrist both in the U.S. Air Force and later as a professor at several university medical schools. He authored or edited more than 100 articles and 16 books. He now enjoys woodworking.

After graduation, Elizabeth began her career in market research and marketing at Proctor and Gamble and later worked for American Greetings and Datapoint Corporation. Since retirement, she has devoted herself to volunteer activities as a Master Gardener, first in New Orleans, and now through the University of California Cooperative Extension. Since the couple moved to Sacramento, she has volunteered almost 7,000 hours providing horticulture information to home gardeners.

The couple has one son, Paul, a colorectal surgeon on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, and two grandchildren, Cami, 10, and Mikey, 8.

Ohio Wesleyan’s seven-year Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign, which remains in its leadership phase, seeks to recognize and reward faculty excellence, enhance access and affordability for students through scholarship endowment, and improve the physical campus, including student housing. To learn more about the campaign and contributing to Ohio Wesleyan, visit owu.edu/waystogive.

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers 87 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Ohio Wesleyan combines a challenging, internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities to connect classroom theory with real-world experience. OWU’s 1,675 students represent 43 U.S. states and territories and 33 countries. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.