The author of more than 150 scholarly papers, Charlie taught hundreds of undergraduate students and mentored more than 100 M.S. and Ph.D. students. He also served for several years as assistant to the chancellor for academic affairs and was active on many campus committees. In addition to his university appointment, he was a faculty investigator at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Charlie is justly known as the father of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Berkeley. He instilled an unusually strong spirit of cooperation among his colleagues as he guided the growth of the department from 5 faculty members to 16. He also played a key role in making Berkeley’s chemical engineering department preeminent at a time when the discipline was evolving toward the social and economic importance it enjoys today.
Charlie was a superb chair and an outstanding department leader. He had a clear vision of where the department should go. It was during his years as chair that Berkeley chemical engineering quickly rose to prominence. In 1953, Berkeley chemical engineering was virtually unknown in the academic world. Ten years later, thanks to Wilke’s firm yet gentle guidance, it had achieved an enviable worldwide reputation.
Charles Wilke retired in 1987. In recognition of his remarkable contributions to the chemical engineering profession, to chemical engineering educators, and to the University of California, at the graduate exercises in May 1988 the chancellor of the Berkeley campus awarded Charlie Wilke its highest honor—the Berkeley Citation.