Louis Wildman had a ritual of cutting newspaper articles whenever one of his alumni assumed a leadership role as assistant principal, principal, or even superintendent. In his 30 years as an outstanding teacher at CSUB, he has learned to keep the scissors handy.
“He would put the newspaper article on his door and talk about it all day – in the hallway, with colleagues,” said Mahmoud Suleiman, a teacher training professor. “He was so proud. It’s Louis.
The subject of many of those clippings was Christine Lizardi Frazier, former Kern County Schools Superintendent and CSUB Hall of Fame inductee. Frazier reflected on his mentor on Thursday, following news of his passing on Wednesday. It was Wildman who persuaded Frazier to join the doctoral program.
“He was simply the nicest man I think I’ve ever met,” said Frazier, who retired as superintendent in 2017. “He had a heart for the students he taught as well as for the students we serve as leaders in the schools.
“People came into administration thinking they didn’t want to disappoint him and making sure they wanted to serve, especially the county students, as well as he expected.”
CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said the loss of a professor so central to the university’s tradition of excellence is difficult, especially for colleagues who served with Wildman during his tenure, from 1987 to 2018. .
“Dr. Wildman enjoyed the universal respect of the School of Social Sciences and Education faculty,” Zelezny said. “He was a renowned scholar with a prodigious body of published work. his friends here on campus will tell you that they miss his humor, his kindness and his zest for life the most.He lived a rich and full life and didn’t waste a moment of it.
In accepting his induction into the CSUB Faculty Hall of Fame in 2021, Wildman explained his educational philosophy:
“I focused on understanding rather than learning a set of rules, regulations and procedures. And while those are certainly important, I’m looking for a little broader perspective than that. I believe that educational administrators should live what the schools they run teach.
Wildman served in a variety of key roles at CSUB, beginning as an associate professor in 1987, becoming director of several programs and director of graduate studies in education, among his many other contributions.
The Association of California School Administrators named Wildman Professor of the Year in 2005, and he won the Living Legend Award from the National Council of Professors of Education Administration in 2006. At CSUB, Wildman achieved Professor Emeritus status in 2017.
“Why did we name Dr. Wildman to the Faculty Hall of Fame,” his colleague Aaron Wisman said in a video for the Hall of Fame ceremony. “I think in terms of K-12 (public) educational leadership and education more broadly in Kern County, this guy is a legend. Before the pandemic, when I could go out into the community and talk with education officials, when I mentioned my affiliation with CSUB, almost always people would ask about Dr. Wildman.
Retired professor Dr. Gus Garcia echoed Wisman:
“Half the principals in this town either took courses from him or got their master’s degrees from him.”
After teaching at Cal State Bakersfield early in the school’s history, Garcia returned to CSUB in 1987, the same year Wildman arrived. He recalled his colleague’s work in launching a doctoral program in educational leadership in partnership with the University of the Pacific, a precursor to CSUB’s current, independent Ed.D program.
“He was in graduate education and I was in teacher training. What inspired me was that we had a professor who was trying to offer us a PhD program for 10 years. He was trying to get us a joint program with UC Santa Barbara. Their faculty said no, we don’t want to be associated with this crummy little program in Bakersfield. So Louis took over and, within a year, we had a joint doctoral program with UOP. A lot of people in this town have an Ed.D. because of our common program.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Wildman was a superintendent in a school district in his home state before coming to Bakersfield, said Garcia, who noted that unlike most disciplines, CSUB requires teachers in the department of education have experience in the field before joining the faculty.
“Dr. Wildman used to have these brown bag lunches,” recalls Suleiman, who joined CSUB in 1999. “He would invite superintendents and colleagues from the school of education and people from the community. We always had fun.
Wildman’s hero was Horace Mann, a 19th century reformer widely regarded as the father of public education in the United States.
“He was an advocate for public schools,” Garcia said. “Very strong, everywhere he went.”
Accepting his induction into the Faculty Hall of Fame, Wildman said, “Public schools are the foundation of our democracy, and democracy requires educated citizens.
At the end of his long career in education, he devoted his teaching talent to another passion: music. He taught classes at CSUB and Bakersfield College for several years. His friends say he mastered several instruments, but his favorite was the marimba, which he played at parties at his house.
He was exceptionally close to his mother, Garcia said, and built a house in a house in her Rosedale home when he moved her from Portland to Bakersfield.
“He was very devoted to his church and was a great sportsman, playing basketball,” Suleiman said. “He loved what he was doing and he worked well with everyone.”
Garcia put it simply: “I owe him a lot.”
During his induction ceremony, Wildman quoted the philosopher Immanuel Kant:
“Education partly teaches something to man and partly develops something in him.”
Wildman is survived by his wife, Olga. Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.
Jennifer Self is Public Information Manager for Cal State Bakersfield.