Egon O. Wendel ’49 – A Family Affair at Wagner

Egon O. Wendel ’49 – A Family Affair at Wagner

Dr. Egon “Ed” Wendel had an outstanding career at Wagner College that spanned for nearly four decades from the year 1962 until his retirement in 1990. During his tenure, Ed prided himself on wholeheartedly serving the faculty, staff, and student body.

Ed's journey toward a storied career began when he was inducted into the military in 1943 at age eighteen. Ed's transition from the military to his first year at Wagner College was a smooth one with the help of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, which is most commonly known as the GI Bill®. Ed was grateful for the GI Bill® as it helped fund his education at Wagner College. Ed loved his time at Wagner as a student saying, “The education Wagner provided was solid. It helped me do very well, so I’ve always felt passionate about Wagner College. They took me over the hurdle.” 

When Ed graduated from Wagner in 1949, he was able to immediately begin working as a teacher in public schools on Long Island, N.Y. In 1950, he earned his master’s degree from Teachers College, Columbia University. Ed taught in public schools for 13 years. After completing his doctorate at New York University in 1961, he was contacted in 1962 by Dr. Calhoun of Wagner College’s Education Department and was offered an appointment at Wagner. Ed worked his way up from an assistant professor, to an associate professor, to a full-time professor and beginning in 1965, served as Chairman of the Education Department. In 1969, he was appointed Associate Dean of the College. In 1970, he became the acting Dean of College until the following year when he became the Dean of the Faculty. As Dean of Faculty and later as Academic Vice President, Ed was responsible for overseeing Wagner’s faculty: assisting in faculty development, curriculum changes, personnel issues, and ensuring due process. A job that took a lot of effort to perform in the years 1970-1980. 

During Ed’s tenure, his titles changed but his responsibilities continued, as a lot of tough decisions had to be made for Wagner’s future. As the Academic Vice President, Ed recalls negotiating with the Faculty Association concerning wages, benefits, and working conditions into the early morning hours. Generally, the faculty felt that Ed was honest and fair. Ed was determined to help Wagner College achieve a high level of excellence. Ed was also joyful about Wagner's advancement from Division 3 to Division 1 sports. Ed reflects “I was happy about that.” 

In 1980, Ed went back to the Education Department and taught as a full-time professor for 10 more years. In 1990, Ed retired from full-time teaching but taught at Wagner College part-time alongside his wife Katherine K. Wendel who taught part-time as well. In 1990 Ed was named Professor Emeritus which is one of the highest honors for a professor. In the year 2000 when Ed was 75 years old, he and Kathy fully retired from teaching. Both of them are proud and happy about how their careers turned out. 

Ed and Kathy have both kept in contact with Wagner College over the years. Ed recalls returning for the football games, and being around all of the long-lasting friends he’s made at the College. One of Ed’s more recent visits to Wagner was in April 2019 for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Wagner College Guild. Ed was the guest speaker and attended the event with his wife Kathy and his son Wayne. Kathy and Wayne are both Wagner alumni as well. Kathy graduated from Queens College with a BA in 1951 and earned her MS in Education at Wagner in 1967. Wayne graduated in 1979 with a BA in History and earned his MBA in Management in 1984. Ed and Kathy generously set up an award in their name. The Katherine & Egon Wendel Award is given to a student pursuing a master's degree in Education at Wagner College. When Ed was asked why he wanted to give back in this way he said, “Wagner was very good to me and gave me opportunities I may not have had. I am very grateful for Wagner.” Ed is today hoping to be able to come back to Wagner for a visit, a place that still holds a large part of his heart, soon.