The Wise Legacy
How one professor transformed the nation
For several years, my dear friend and colleague, Dan Siegel, told me about a book he was writing called The Wise Legacy. The book, he explained to me, was about a professor at F&M (Franklin & Marshall) who meant a great deal to him. He learned, he explained, as he researched the book, that this professor meant a great deal to many other people as well. In fact, he told me, this professor had a huge impact, not only on individual lives, but on our country.
Needless to say, I was interested to learn more about this man and what he had done to impress my friend so much. The man’s name? Sidney Wise.
Who was Professor Wise?
Professor Sidney was was the Charles A. Dana Professor of Government at Franklin & Marshall College. F&M is a small, private school located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Professor Wise was a mentor to many people who have become quite successful. Among them you will find Kenneth Duberstein (Reagan’s Chief of Staff) the CEO of HBO, an SEC Chair, a Congressman, a Federal Judge and many, many more.
According to Dan and the 40 other people interviewed, Professor Wise not only served as an extraordinary educator, but as a mentor who reached his hand out to many of his students. In addition, Professor Wise used the connections he forged to join hands between those he mentored, substantially helping their careers. Sid was a master of networking. One interviewee said that Sid, “invented networking.” Others talked about how Sid listened and encouraged. Still others spoke of how he helped them find their directions in life.
The Wise Legacy is an easy read. The version Dan gave me has 248 pages. The book begins with Dan’s explanation of why he wanted to write this book, followed by a brief description of the Professor’s life. Then, Dan gets out of the way and allows each of the 40 other subjects to speak for themselves. The voices of each person come through this well-written book. Dan’s interview is included, and there you learn why Sid meant so much to him. Clearly, Professor Wise had a huge impact on many, many people.
I am fortunate in that I had a bit of an inside perspective on this book. Dan told me about his travels to meet with the different people he interviewed. I enjoyed his enthusiasm as he told me about his experiences.
Professor Wise impacted many people. The Wise Legacy shows us this and I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history, biographies, the power of networking and mentoring in general.
In addition to the fact that I enjoyed reading Daniel J. Siegel’s book, it left me with a lasting question. This is a book that makes you think. Once you have finished it, it will stay with you as you ponder how one man impacted so many. Perhaps it will also leave you with a question it left with me: How many other Professor Wise’s are there, unsung, across our country? How many professors from small, liberal arts schools, have helped to start so many young men and women across the United States on careers that have touched many lives?