Murray Wise 2009
BS '73, Plant Pathology
Born and raised on a grain and livestock farm in Canada, Murray Wise (’73 plant pathology) continues to be involved in agriculture to this day.
Until 1975, both before and after finishing an undergraduate degree in agriculture at Iowa State, Wise directed and managed a personally owned farming operation. After working as a district sales manager with Allied Mills, a division of Continental Grain Company, Wise assumed the position of vice president of the Sandage Companies, where he was involved in all aspects of agricultural sales and property management.
In 1985, Wise formed the Westchester Group, at which he currently serves as chairman and chief executive officer. Westchester has become one of the leading agricultural asset managers in the United States. Assets under the company’s management include citrus and vineyards, as well as almond orchards and apples in Washington and row crop production in the Midwestern states. Under Wise’s leadership as chairman and CEO, Westchester has evolved into a global asset management company, managing agriculture assets outside the United States.
Wise has authored two books on agriculture real estate. “Investing in Farmland,” published in 1989, helped define the opportunities and methods of farmland investment. The second, “Farmland Investment Strategy: The Opportunity of the 1990s,” is considered the definitive guide to farmland investment strategies for pension fund investors. Major media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Des Moines Register, Bloomberg, Successful Farming, Progressive Farmer, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Farm Journal, Forbes, CNBC, and CNN frequently seek his expertise in the field of agricultural land.
Wise is an ISU Foundation Governor (emeritus). As a result of his generous gifts establishing endowed scholarships in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Business, Wise and his wife Valerie are members of the Order of the Knoll W.M. Beardshear Society and the Campanile Society. He is a life member of the ISU Alumni Association.
The father of four children — Julie and Jason (’07 business), Wise and Valerie live in Naples, Fla., and Champaign, Ill., with their two adopted children from Russia — David and Diana. Through the adoption process, the couple learned firsthand the number of children who needed adoption and the staggering costs involved in international adoption. The Wises established the Oxford Adoption Foundation, which provides couples with low-interest loans to assist with the cost of adoption.