David B. Wilder, Colleague and Friend 1955-2017

David Wilder OPTFA

We are devastated that David Wilder, OPTFA Co-Chair and our friend and colleague, was killed on Saturday, March 25, the victim of a drive-by shooting on the east side of Cleveland.

David, an art and art history adjunct professor who taught at Cuyahoga Community College, John Carroll University, and Cleveland State University and who was a talented artist, was a determined and energetic advocate for adjunct faculty and their students.  He was an early member and supporter of New Faculty Majority and a founding member of the Ohio Part-time Faculty Association, formed in 2013 to support adjunct faculty by helping them to organize to transform their working conditions.

As a leader of OPTFA, David strove to build a community of adjunct faculty in Ohio dedicated to ensuring dignified, professional working conditions to benefit faculty, students, and the community.  He organized or co-organized events including picnics, information sessions on unemployment benefits for adjuncts, and public demonstrations and petition drives including Adjunct Dignity Day 2015, the “Jazz Up Higher Ed with Adjunct Equity” petition drive at the Tri-C Jazz Fest, and forums like last year’s “Cultivating an Ethics of the Public Good” at John Carroll University. He helped found the Ohio Higher Education Coalition, a group of faculty, students, and community members dedicated to equity and justice in higher education in Ohio.

David was unafraid to speak up about the urgent need to end the disrespectful and detrimental employment practices that prevent adjuncts and their students from experiencing the true promise of education. He was passionate about the art and art history he practiced and taught, and deeply concerned about his students and colleagues. He had a gentle demeanor which did not ever diminish his fierce integrity or his playful and witty sense of humor.  He was an accomplished artist with an eye for quiet and unusual beauty and was ever conscious of the important role of art in advancing social justice.

David Professor's Office

We, his friends and colleagues, are devastated by his loss and resolute in our determination to continue our work in his honor, as we know he would want us to do.  We share the grief of his family and friends in this immeasurable loss.

Donations to help provide for David’s final arrangements can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/funeral-expenses-for-david-wilder


  1. Leon R. Dozier Sr. says:

    My condolences to the family and students of Professor Wilder. I’m so sorry for this senseless loss. I hope those criminals are brought to justice quickly!

  2. Eric D. Gusik says:

    This is horrible. David Wilder was a gentle soul. He saw beauty in everything. As one of his students I am crushed by his loss. I will never be able to view a piece art again without seeing and hearing him. I know if he could say one last thing to us it be that we shouldn’t be angry and that we should look even harder now to see the beauty in this world that is getting crazier by the day. I wish I was a fraction of the man he was because right now my blood is boiling and I want those who took him from us to pay the ultimate price. All I can do, though, is try to honor his memory and strive to emulate his pragmatism and humanity.

  3. Palli Davis & Michael Holubarand says:

    The world is so much emptier without David.

  4. Audrey Wiggins says:

    My condolences to the family. I work at CSU and one of Prof. Wilder’s students shared this tragic news with me.

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