Robert Wiley earned his bachelor's degree in pharmacy from the University of Michigan in 1955 and a doctorate from the University of California, San Francisco, in 1962. He served on the faculty of the University of Kansas until 1984, when he came to the UI as Dean of the College. After his retirement in 1991, he remained a Professor in the Department of Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry. He died in 2009.
Wiley's research concerned the chemical synthesis of potential new drugs and chemical mechanisms involved in organ damage due to environmental chemicals. He founded and directed the honors program in the College of Pharmacy and was awarded a Collegiate Teaching Award three times. He served on the University's Funded retirement Insurance Committee, the university Council, the student Computer Advisory Committee, and the Old Gold Fellowship review panel.