As in most of the country, reactions to the extraordinary 2016 presidential election were mixed on the Wagner campus.

Wagner College has historically had a good relationship with Donald Trump, having awarded him an honorary degree in 2004.

Yet even then, his biography in the commencement program betrayed some institutional ambivalence. “Everyone knows something about him and everyone has an opinion concerning him,” it said. Because of Trump’s skepticism about the value of higher education, the biography continued, “From that same critical stance, Wagner College, not wanting to be over-impressed, is nonetheless eager to acknowledge that your exercise of the talent, drive and creativity which you possess in abundance is both the lifeblood of a city such as New York and the gift that a free society offers us all.”

In 2016, voices opposing and afraid of Trump’s policy proposals and leadership style were the loudest ones in the Wagner community.

On November 9, the day after the election, President Guarasci wrote an email to the entire campus community. He emphasized that deep emotions, whether in celebration or in concern, were normal, but that our national and collegiate customs would continue.

“At the end of the night, a new president was elected by a clearly divided nation, but, today, our country will begin the process of peaceful transition that has made the United States so unique a nation in world history.”

At the end of his message, he continued, “I want to reassure you that the long-held principles and values that are embedded in our campus culture at Wagner College remain as they always have been. We continue to be committed to liberal education, to inclusion, and to equity, and we will continue to spread these values through the work that we do, like the Port Richmond Partnership, among others. Here we will support a community that has respect for cultural and religious traditions, one that is notable for its absence of racial or ethnic hierarchies, and prepares young people to lead.”

In January, President Guarasci and Wagner’s senior staff released another message reaffirming the College’s historic values and support for diverse people. This message, titled “Wagner College Values,” is posted on the Wagner College website.

A photo of Wagner's Main Hall on a summer day.