The Lillian Wilds Scholarship honors Professor Lillian Wilds (1926-1985). Professor Wilds earned her B.A. (1962), her M.A. (1964), and her Ph.D. (1970) at the University of California at Los Angeles. Her book on Shakespeare's Character Dramatists was published in 1975, and she published articles in Shakespeare Quarterly, Literature/Film Quarterly, and the Quarterly Review of Film Studies as well as in other journals. She presented papers at international, national, and regional conferences on Shakespeare and theater, and conducted innovative programs on "Shakespeare for the Blind" and "Theatre for the Deaf." She taught Shakespeare's plays at Cal Poly Pomona from 1968 until shortly before her death in 1985. In 1974, as part of the University’s outreach program, she established and served as the faculty advisor for the poetry journal Spring Harvest and initiated the Invitational High School Shakespeare Festival, in which area high school students compete in presenting scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. In 1981, Professor Wilds helped secure a grant of $180,000 from the Times Mirror Foundation to bring a tour of documents from the Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington, D.C., to the California Museum of Science and Industry. In 1982, she worked with Audrey Stanley, the founder of Shakespeare Santa Cruz Festival, and two members of the Royal Shakespeare Company on a production of King Lear. Professor Wilds was a deeply admired teacher who was especially noted for her work as a major proponent of using performance approaches in literature classrooms to explore Shakespeare's plays in particular and Renaissance drama in general. The extraordinary quality of her work was recognized when she was selected as Cal Poly Pomona's Outstanding Professor and its nominee for the 1982-1983 CSU Outstanding Professor award bestowed by the Trustees of the California State University.
Shortly after her death, the Lillian Wilds Scholarship was established with funds donated by her husband, Lee Wilds, and by colleagues and students who wanted to honor her pioneering work. Since its inception, her son Daniel Wilds and his wife, Linda, have generously made further contributions to the endowment, increasing the amount awarded to each winner. The Lillian Wilds Scholarship was first awarded in 1986, and in the Spring Quarter of 2010 the panel of judges selected the 25th winner. EFL faculty select and announce a winner of the scholarship each Spring Quarter.