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The Wise Legacy: The Biography Of Franklin & Marshall College Government Professor Sid Wise
The Wise Legacy: The Biography Of Franklin & Marshall CollegeGovernment Professor Sid Wise

What Others Are Saying About The Wise Legacy

“The Wise Legacy” is a rich and touching tribute to a talented and charismatic teacher. Perhaps surprisingly, not being a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College and having no prior knowledge of Sid Wise doesn't mean you won't thoroughly enjoy reading Dan Siegel’s book. It will resonate with anyone who has ever had a dedicated teacher who went the extra mile, though F&M alums and those considering attending F&M will certainly find it especially fascinating. The book is also a welcome reminder of the impact such great teachers have on society. The fact that President Reagan’s Chief of Staff and a young congressman on the other side of the aisle could develop a productive working relationship and a friendship as a direct result of Professor Wise’s influence is nothing short of remarkable. It is perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of Sid Wise’s networking reach, though many influential people offer interesting anecdotes about Sid Wise throughout the book. Perhaps the most important lesson the book imparts is that the practice of building and maintaining relationships is integral to any definition of personal success, as taught by Professor Wise long after his death. I think every teacher dreams of having their lessons carried on this way, in that sense, "The Wise Legacy" pays homage to teachers everywhere." RC1979 (From April 11, 2015)





"Your book covered an incredible era in the history of Franklin and Marshall - the Wise years, 1952 to 1989 - what exciting times and you have brought back some of the highlights of those years at  dear old F&M through your interviews.  To say merely good job hardly begins to cover all the work you must have put into "The Wise Legacy".  Thanks for the book - it is a  thoroughly enjoyable read." Judge Ronald Buckwalter





"This tribute volume collects statements from and interviews with students, colleagues, relatives, and friends of Sidney Wise, an influential professor.


"Sidney Wise was Charles A. Dana Professor of Government at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Upon Wise’s retirement in 1989, Rep. William H. Gray, a former student, paid tribute to him in the House, noting that “Dr. Sidney Wise represents the highest ideal of the small college teacher.” An engaging and inspiring professor, Sid was also known for helping to establish the system of political internships, a new idea at the time. Says a colleague, “As far as I’m concerned, [Sid Wise] invented networking.” Included in Wise’s network were many prominent figures in law, politics, business, and other fields. Those interviewed for this volume include Gray, Kenneth M. Duberstein (President Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff), Alfred Zuck (former assistant secretary of labor), and many others. Through his interviews, Siegel (Android Apps in One Hour for Lawyers, 2013, etc.) makes a broad, persuasive case for Wise’s contributions as a professor and mentor. Although Wise was a committed Democrat, students might leave his class never knowing his affiliation, and he helped students get into leadership positions regardless of party lines (and regardless of race or sex). Several contributors note that for Wise, politics was “the art of the possible,” practiced with a view toward compromise and, above all, civility. An undernote throughout this volume is rueful recognition of how unhappy Wise would be to see today’s deadlocked, partisan bickering. Also recalled in these pages are Wise’s love of film and his warm, gregarious nature. There is some repetition in these accounts and little consideration, given the celebratory nature of this book, of the troublesome side of networking and internships. But, as colleague John Vanderzell says, “to know Sidney was to love him,” and Siegel’s interviews make plain why this is so. The book itself is a labor of love and stands as a fine tribute to an unforgettable man.


"Of greatest interest to those who knew Sidney Wise—but also a poignant reminder of a more civil political era." Kirkus Review -





"I thoroughly enjoyed Dan's book. First,I should tell you, he gave me a copy to read. I am glad he did. I got to talk to Dan as he worked on this book, and I liked listening to him talk about the interviews as he conducted them. He did a great job interviewing the 40 people in the book (41 including himself) and allowing their voices to come through. Feel free to read more about my thoughts here" JEllis (From June 7, 2015)





"As an F&M graduate and Government major who graduated in the mid 1980's this book reacquainted me with a professor whose lessons have had a profound impact on our government and our country's history in the last half century. I only had a few classes with Professor Wise and I unfortunately wasn't a member of his "network" in Harrisburg or Washington D.C., but I do remember him as a great professor who believed that government was a noble profession with the ability to make positive change possible. I only hope that in the modern era where money has such a huge influence on our political process and so many of our politicians choose devision over compromise that Professor Wise's legacy still has a place. His attitude of "government as the art of the possible" is what I believe is missing in our politics of today. He believed that good people of all political stripes could work together for the greater good of society and he dedicated his life to education them and giving them an entree into public service. This book is not only a well deserved tribute, but should be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to have a career as an educator or a public servant." FuzzyAMZ (From May 16, 2015)





"Feel good stories about teachers who make a difference are not hard to come by in fiction or on screen. Daniel Siegel's nonfiction collection offers readers something equally uplifting, but entirely different: The Wise Legacy depicts one professor's extraordinary impact in the words of his former students, colleagues, and friends. A professor of government at Franklin and Marshall, a small liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, for almost forty years, Sid Wise left a legacy that runs the gamut from teaching students to see the opportunity in failure to fostering a culture of compromise and collaboration among F&M alums in Washington. The subtitle is not an exaggeration: the myriad profiles here remind readers just how much one great educator can do. Moreover, they remind a reader feeling disillusioned with contemporary politics that there have been people who taught and modeled something different, who believed that government could be a noble profession with the capacity to change the world. As former student John Buchanan recalled, "He had this gift of being able to discuss highly emotional, controversial issues, but with such lucidity and intelligence and sensitivity that he just encouraged thoughtfulness. And thoughtfulness is akin to civility when you are talking about the public conversation."

"The book covers the beginning of Sid Wise's career, in the 1950's, to his retirement, at the end of the 1980's. When taken together, these interviews tell the story of the country during its tumultuous middle decades. In the pages of this book, readers see Sid Wise advise Elanor Roosevelt to reconsider her planned appearance location, because it forbids African-Americans; lobby for the inclusion of women at F&M and mentor women trying to make it as faculty members; and teach Kenneth Duberstein, who became Ronald Reagan's chief of staff, that governing requires reaching across the aisle. The book offers a window into the evolution of the country, its politics, and its system of higher education; it will be an invaluable primary source to anyone conducting research in related fields.

"This book will certainly appeal to Franklin and Marshall alums, whether or not they recall Sid Wise. It is a loving portrait of what F&M was, and what it is. Moreover, though, this book reminds all readers of what higher education can and should be. In a country in which tuition increases threaten to limit the number of students who enroll in and complete college degrees, a country in which tenured, full-time faculty increasingly give way to poorly paid, part-time adjuncts, this book serves as a reminder of the power of faculty-student relationships. The full-time professors who remain today are often judged by the research funds they bring in, or the papers that they publish, but this book offers a different vision of the power a faculty member can have. I wish it could be required reading for all who enter higher education, so that they might be reminded that a lasting legacy might, instead, consist of forging relationships, mentoring students, and modeling thoughtful, open-minded engagement with opinions of all kinds.." M. Hamilton (Reprinted from April 7, 2015)





f you went to a small liberal arts college and had a professor who fostered a love of learning and engagement with life, then this book will sing to your heart. I did not go to Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; I never met Professor of Government, Sid Wise. I went to Mills College in Oakland, California and was mentored by Professor of English, Ed Milowicki. So I enjoyed experiencing Professor Wise through the stories of his students.

I wanted to read this book because I have the pleasure of knowing its author, Dan Siegel who I got to know and admire when I was editor-in-chief of Law Practice magazine and he was one of its hardest working editors. As if Dan wasn't busy enough being a lawyer, a tech consultant, prolific writer, engaging speaker, Haverford Township Commissioner, husband, father, and cheerful colleague. This book is Dan's special tribute to his professor and mentor.

Professor Sid Wise left his mark on Dan and countless others over the course of 37 years teaching Government,1952 to 1989 at Franklin & Marshall. Surely Sid Wise would be touched by this book and proud of the accomplishments of 41 of his legacies. Through their eyes, we see a warm-hearted teacher who was passionate about fostering the spark in young bright 20 year olds, encouraging, guiding and facilitating their skills in networking to help shape them into leaders committed to the ideals of public service. Luminaries include Jonathan Blyth (Congressional Chief of Staff), John Buchanan (Editor/Publisher of The Christian Century), Judge Paula Dow (Former N.J. Attorney General), Kenneth Duberstein (Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff), Congressman H. William Gray (Chair of the United Negro College Fund), Nanine Hartzenbusch (Photo Journalist), Richard Kneedler (President of Franklin & Marshall), John Martino (Director of the U.S. Mint), Richard Plepler (CEO of HBO), and Mary Shapiro (Chair of the Securites and Exchange Commission).

You'll want to get two copies of this book: one to keep and one to give to your favorite professor who made a difference in your life. Sheila Blackford (Reprinted from, August 8, 2015)






We Could All Use a Little Wise Legacy Today
Book Review: By Carole A. Levitt, Esq.,

In Daniel Siegel’s endeavor to write a biography of Professor Sidney Wise, Siegel traveled the country for seven years interviewing students, colleagues, and friends, to learn how Professor Wise had influenced their lives. Who is Professor Wise? He graduated from Harvard College in 1948. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1952 in public law, he joined the faculty of Franklin and Marshall College (F&M) to teach Government. He greatly influenced Daniel and so many students to serve the public. When Wise retired in 1989, 145 of his students were working for the federal government in Washington. When I picked up Daniel’s book, The Wise Legacy, I wasn’t sure I would be able to relate to it since I had not attended Franklin and Marshall nor ever met or heard of Professor Sidney Wise. But, within no time at all, Daniel Siegel’s warm depiction of Professor Wise, told through the stories of numerous alumni, made me wish I had known him and attended Franklin and Marshall.

While I majored in political science at the University of Illinois, F&M students majored in “Government.” It was renamed the “Government Department” shortly after Wise arrived on campus to reflect that the three professors in the department would be integrating political science theory with real-world insights they had gathered from their own participation in local, and federal government. As a result of their professors’ government participation, it was obvious to me that students had a more authentic learning experience and became enthused with the idea of serving the public once they graduated.

Many alum said that Wise spent a lot of time speaking with students informally and that what they learned during these informal conversations influenced their lives more than what they learned in his classroom. Wise taught his students the importance of networking, non-partisanship, building coalitions, and creating consensus to reach a result. A fellow professor, Professor Stephenson explained that Wise made it clear to junior faculty members “[t]hat the classroom lectern was not a pulpit, that you weren’t in there to win students over to your particular perspective. You were in there to win them over to the idea of studying government and politics, to excite them about that, not about being liberal, conservative, Democrat, or Republican, because he was as open to students who were Republicans as he was to students who were Democrats, even though he was very much a Democrat himself.”

Wise was able to spot leadership qualities in certain students and began mentoring them--even those students who never took his class. He clearly had a campus-wide influence. And, he also had an influence outside of campus, displayed by his ongoing relationships with so many alumni who came back to campus to speak at his career conference and regularly made space at their offices for Professor Wise’s interns. He followed his students’ careers, often sending them personal notes to congratulate them on their successes.

Wise was a Renaissance man. It wasn’t just about government and politics. He had a great love of film and was responsible for bringing films to campus on a weekly basis and bringing in speakers. He was instrumental in opening F&M to women and to minorities. He worked tirelessly after he retired to raise funds for the college.

Wise, a Democrat, rarely discussed his politics with his students, infusing them with the importance of how non-partisanship was necessary to build coalitions to get things done. One of Wise’s students, Ken Duberstein, still turned to his Democratic professor for advice while he served in the Republican administration as President Reagan’s chief of staff. He explained that he attributed much of his success in the White House to a fellow F&M alumnus, Bill Gray, who happened to be a Democratic Congressman, to whom Wise introduced him. Wise wrote to Duberstein and said, “You guys have a different philosophy, but you need to talk public policy with a result.” And they did. Duberstein said he learned from Wise that he had to listen to what his adversary wanted and that he didn’t always have to agree with his adversary. “You’re not negotiating, you’re understanding one another.”

What struck me about Professor Wise was how true his legacy rings even today. Just recently, I read an article about Senator Bernie Sanders, who said, “It is easy to go out and talk to people who agree with you. But it is harder, but not less important, for us to try and communicate with those who do not agree with us on every issue.”

If everyone took the time to read the Wise Legacy and really understand Wise’s message, maybe we’d actually get something done in government, instead of just taking political sides and stalemating. Daniel Siegel’s book couldn’t have been published at a better time than now. Carole Levitt (Reprinted from, September 30, 2015)






"That's one helluva book."  Ernest Watts