A Living Millikin Legend- Walt Wessel

Heather Croyl

The beginning of each semester brings in new professors, new classes and new schedules. Uncertainty can mount as majors change, classes are added/dropped and graduation looms in the distance. As many students are aware, Millikin’s registrar office is in charge of class schedules, documenting majors and distributing transcripts. Yet as the information age makes visiting the registrar’s office a special occasion, the man behind the registrar, Walt Wessel, is seen by fewer students. As it turns out, Walt Wessel is a living Millikin legend.

Wessel attended Millikin in the 1960s, originally pursuing a degree in music and playing football. His career path took a slight turn, as it usually does for many students. He graduated in January 1969 with a Bachelors degree in physical education and history. However, after a short time of selling vacuum cleaners and holding a teaching assistant position here in Decatur, Wessel was drafted into the U.S. Army. After serving for two years, Wessel accepted a position as a Millikin Admissions Counselor, starting in March 1973. The institution has not let him go since. Within his 40 years of working at Millikin, Wessel has served as numerous positions, including Dean of Enrollment and Assistant Soccer Coach.

It is an unfortunate circumstance that many students aren’t aware of Wessel’s athletic history here at Millikin. Without Wessel, the institution might not have a soccer team. In the 1980s, Wessel helped create a soccer club, which later went intercollegiate. He then became the team’s assistant coach, a position Wessel held for some time with pride. In 2008, he was inducted into the Millikin Football Hall of Fame. Wessel was an ambitious soccer player as a student. He was the team’s co-captain and saw the team’s journey to All-Conference. Wessel’s name can be seen on the Hall of Fame board in Griswold.

Wessel deems himself a family man. Four of his five kids attended Millikin, and they are now out in the world making their father proud. Wessel speaks highly of his eight grandchildren and hopes that at least one of them will make Millikin his or her alma mater.

After years of watching Millikin progress, Wessel can confidently say that the ethos of campus has not changed. Just as James Millikin had envisioned it back in 1903, the University is still a place of development and experimental learning. Although the individuals in the institution have changed over the years, the feeling and meaning of Millikin has not changed. Because of this, Wessel urges all students to “use the institution and all the opportunities we can provide.”

Today, the registrar is working full speed ahead to serve students, faculty and alumni. “There is no way I could do this job without the support of my staff,” Wessel said. The registrar staff consists of Nancy Hotwick, Toni Radliff and Millikin Alum Karen Klein.