Arthur H. Wilde arrived at the University of Arizona in 1911 with a doctorate in medieval history from Harvard University and an administrative service background from Northwestern University. The Board of Regents hoped Wilde would increase enrollment at the UA as he had done at Northwestern. Shortly after his appointment, Wilde proved to live up to the regents’ expectations. There were 195 students when he became the University’s sixth president; by the 1912-13 school year, enrollment stood at 254. The increase took place despite Wilde’s goal to reduce the number of preparatory students at the University. First-year preparatory courses were dropped in 1912 and second-year preparatory classes were eliminated in 1913.
During his administration, Wilde expanded the University’s extension program to include lectures by faculty other than experiment station staff. He also established courses in home economics and bacteriology. His energy helped defeat a Maricopa County proposal in 1911-12 to move the College of Agriculture to Tempe.
There were a number of University firsts during Wilde’s administration: a constitution was drawn up for the first student body organization on campus; the first University Week was held in 1912 (a custom that continued until 1965); the first University Honors Awards were established with the first Merrill P. Freeman Award presented in 1912. Wilde established the positions of registrar and business manager to handle enrollment and financial details. He obtained funds to construct a new men’s dormitory, Arizona Hall, which was completed in the spring of 1913. The dorm was named in honor of Arizona’s 1912 admission into statehood.
Before leaving the UA, Wilde made what would become a historic appointment to the University staff – James F. McKale was named athletic director and coach.
In 1914, Wilde accepted a position with his alma mater, Boston University, to become the first dean of its School of Education. He remained there until his retirement in 1935. Born in Saxonville, Mass., in 1865, his death was reported in the Needham Massachusetts Chronicle on Jan. 7, 1944.