Carl Midkiff Wheeless ’41 has traveled to all 50 states and more than 135 countries on study tours and as an educational director. He has met and interviewed Mother Theresa, Jimmy Carter, Jordan’s King Hussein, Egypt’s President Nasser, and Pakistan’s President Musharraf. But his biggest thrill came a year ago when he was invited to return to Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan, as politics professor for a year.
"Being asked to return to Pakistan 34 years after I left Forman Christian College was one of the biggest shocks—and thrills—of my life,” he wrote in an e-mail from Pakistan. “It has been a welcomed, yet undeserved, honor at the old age of 85, to enter the very same classroom I first entered in 1957. When I left for a brief trip to the United States in May, the students boarded a bus en masse to see me off at the airport. As a very common person, I am amazed at the royal treatment. It has been a great responsibility, but just being here seems to have put visible life into the motto of the college, ‘By love serve one another.’ ”
At an “Evening with Dr. Wheeless,” almost 400 former students came to see him. Former students who shower him with affection include Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, prime ministers, and chief ministers. After reading Wheeless’ book, Landmarks of American Presidents, a compendium of historical sites associated with the U.S. presidents, Musharraf approved official funding and requested Wheeless to remain an additional year to write a similar book on the presidents of Pakistan. Wheeless has tentatively accepted.
Wheeless taught political science at Forman (1957–70) and was dean of the college (1968–70). He began his career with the U.S. government as archivist, intelligence specialist, and foreign affairs analyst. As a scholar, he was awarded numerous study grants including a Fulbright Fellowship to Turkey. He is professor emeritus at High Point University in North Carolina and has retired to Lakeland, Fla., with his wife, Mary.
Wheeless said his teaching style is strongly influenced by his Cornell professors in the 1930s and ’40s. “The intimacy I experienced at Cornell College had a lasting and profound effect,” he said. “We admired Judge Littell, who knew each of us as an individual and who subsequently became a role model for me as I too became a professor of political science. My teaching has shown the influence of Cornell College with an emphasis on the development of individual thinking rather than by rote memory.”
As part of a Cornell legacy family, Wheeless has many Cornell connections, including his sister, Elaine Wheeless Schnittjer ’37; his late uncle, Archie Midkiff ’28; his aunt, Hazel Midkiff ’25; and cousins, the late Carl Midkiff ’33 and wife, Florence Barton Midkiff ’34; and Jean Midkiff Guthrie ’34 and her late husband, W. Lain Guthrie ’34.
As much as anything, though, Wheeless said he cherishes the lifelong friendships he developed at Cornell with Howard Ortmeyer ’41, Richard Sampson ’41, and Sid King ’41.
Many former politics students of Carl
Wheeless ’41 are in leadership
positions in Pakistan.