Richard E. Wylie, who transformed Endicott College from a two-year college for women into a coeducational institution that offers doctoral programs, died Saturday night, just days before commencement ceremonies. He was 77.
As Endicott College’s fifth president, Dr. Richard E. Wylie was credited with spearheading the college’s transition from a small, two-year school for women to a coeducational institution with national and international reach offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. His entrepreneurial spirit, his open-door policy with students, faculty, and staff, and his hands-on approach to leadership continue to inspire and shape our growth.
Assuming the presidency in 1987, Dr. Wylie came at a time when the school was facing declining enrollments and financial uncertainty. He persuaded the trustees to give him a year to develop a plan to not only save but also expand the college and its offerings. His one-year reprieve has become a 30-year legacy during which he has said, “Remember the past, appreciate where we are, and dream about what we can be.”
Dr. Wylie had spent his entire professional life in the field of education. In his early career, he was a public school teacher and administrator in Gloucester, Needham, and Walpole, Massachusetts, and a college professor and administrator at the University of Connecticut. Prior to assuming the presidency at Endicott, he served as the vice president and dean of the graduate school at Lesley College, the dean of the School of Educational Studies at the University of Colorado at Denver, and a department chair and professor in Temple University’s College of Education. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire, and he holds a master’s degree and a doctorate from Boston University.
Throughout his career, President Wylie had been active in international education, serving as a consultant to education ministries, government agencies, and schools in more than 30 countries. He had published articles and lectured in the areas of innovative programming for adult learners and international education, and he had authored articles on higher education and a monograph on bilingual/multicultural education.
Dr. Wylie had received numerous recognitions and awards including the Richard J. Bradley Award, granted by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) for his significant contributions to regional school accreditation, and the Dr. Jack Mombourquette Award for International Education for his contributions to American and international schools abroad. In addition, the Aspen Institute named him an Aspen Fellow for his leadership in developing programs for young single parents and their children.
Active in higher education and in the community, Dr. Wylie has served as the president and a member of the board of directors of NEASC, and he chaired NEASC’s Committee on International and American Schools Abroad. He was one of the founders and chair of the board of trustees of the Urban College of Boston, and he has served on the boards of directors of numerous schools, banks, corporations, and nonprofit agencies.
Along with his wife, Mary (Bateman) Wylie of Sudbury, Dr. Wylie leaves three sons, Christopher of Bridgewater, Brian of Middleton, and Gregory of Concord; a daughter Kathleen Rocco of Grafton; eight grandchildren, and a brother, James A. Wylie, Jr. of Ridgefield, Conn., according to the college.
Memorial service details to follow.