Obituary: Professor Michael Wise CBE MC

Governor, Chair of Governors and Fellow

Professor Michael Wise, who died on 13 October 2015 aged 97, was part of the Birkbeck community for more than 45 years, first teaching, then serving as a Governor and then Chair of Governors under a succession of College Masters, and finally as a Fellow of the College.

Born at the end of the First World War, Michael Wise gained a BA in Geography from the University of Birmingham in 1939. He served in the Army in Europe and the Middle East during the Second World War, reaching the rank of Major and was awarded the Military Cross.

After war service he returned to Birmingham as an assistant lecturer, gaining a PhD in 1951. He joined the London School of Economics that year as a lecturer, becoming the Sir Ernest Cassel Reader in Economic Geography at LSE in 1954 and Professor in 1958. He retired as Emeritus Professor of Geography in 1985 after more than 30 years’ teaching at LSE, and a lifetime of distinguished contributions to the field of geography.

He served as a member and President of many learned societies and was one of only two UK academics to have been President of all three UK geographical societies - the Royal Geographical Society, the Geographical Association and the Institute of British Geographers - as well as the International Geographical Union. He received the RGS Gill Memorial award in 1958 and Founder’s Medal in 1977, among many awards, and received the CBE in 1979.

His management role at LSE led to his joining Birkbeck’s governing body in 1968. For some years he combined lecturing in economic geography at LSE during the day and at Birkbeck in the evening, reminiscing in later life about the pleasure it gave him to teach and discuss his subject with Birkbeck’s mature students.