Dr. Walter L. Wilkins became professor of psychology and head of the department at Saint Louis University in 1949. He came to this post from Notre Dame University, where he was professor of psychology as well as a clinical consultant for the Department of Public Welfare of South Bend, Indiana. Dr. Wilkins received his Ph.D. from Loyola in 1948, his M.A. in 1931 and Ph.B. in 1933 from Northwestern University. Before coming to Saint Louis University he had also been dean at Springfield Junior College from 1937 to 1939, a psychologist for the Shorewood Public Schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from 1939 to 1941, and a Navy psychologist between 1941 and 1946.
He logged 27 months with navy psychiatric units and 30 with the Marines. After the war he taught at Notre Dame, for three years until enticed by the State of Indiana with the post of clinical consultant in the Department of Public Welfare. When Saint Louis University advised him that the chairmanship was available, he readily packed his suitcases. He did not pack again until 1960, when the Navy invited him to command a unit of 50 psychologists at its research lab in San Diego.
Wilkins had a national reputation. He was certified as a diplomat in clinical psychology by the American Psychological Association. He was instrumental in setting up the American Catholic Psychological Association. In 1956 he was chosen to be Missouri’s delegate to the Conference of State Psychological Associations. Wilkins’ research was on personality variables and the prospective performance of officer candidates in the armed forces. He signed a long-term contract to study the emotional stability and fortitude of officers in the Marine Corps. The final product of his research was the Wilkins-Miles Self-Description Inventory, an instrument employed in officer screening. The selection of female Marines was another of Wilkins’ projects. In fulfillment of a sizable grant awarded by the Office of Naval Research, he studied the possibilities of women in the Navy.