This is the third time that I have had the pleasure of writing to you as chair of Wagner’s Board of Trustees, and I hope that you will enjoy this year’s annual report as much as I have. You will read much about what we have accomplished on Grymes Hill in the past year. As you read, I hope you will see how important building community is to our work. That is one of the chief reasons that I continue to serve Wagner: the very strong sense of community. It makes my work with the College a pleasure.
One of the stories that I found most interesting was that of Clarence Stoughton, who, after serving as registrar and acting dean, was elected Wagner’s president in 1935. The first layman to hold that office, he came to Wagner after an early career as a teacher of high school history and as the principal of Wagner’s high school program.
While at Wagner, he became a much-beloved teacher and leader. So much so, in fact, that the 1936 issue of the Kallista was dedicated to him because, the students wrote, of his “conscientious nature” and “[wholehearted] interest in the activities of the students.” President Stoughton believed in the Wagner community, and his experiences on Grymes Hill made him a vocal supporter of the liberal arts.
We continue in that mission today by using the liberal arts as a platform to provide a broader understanding of issues within and beyond our community, and how to make it an even better place to live.
Warren R. Procci ’68
Chair, Wagner College Board of Trustees
Throughout my career in higher education — first as a professor, then as a dean and a provost, and now as president — one of the things I have found most troubling is the tendency of the media and the general public to refer to colleges and universities as “the ivory tower.” To me, this has always conjured a vision of an isolated institution, apart, and certainly not a part of the community where it resides. Disconnected. Yet, many of the institutions branded with this rather unflattering label were founded, in some sense, with the intent to provide service and to build community in the cities and towns where they were established. It is a part of their mission, and in recent decades, colleges and universities have been intentionally incorporating this work of community relations and community building into their curricula.
Such is the case here on Grymes Hill. I hope that many of you will remember from your days at Wagner that a strong sense of community was an important part of the experience here. That remains true today, and our work with the surrounding community, particularly our Port Richmond Partnership, helps to define us — so much so that we have been awarded a very special designation from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Earlier this year, it was announced that Wagner had earned the “community engagement classification” from Carnegie. Institutions that earn this designation are “campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions.” This classification, then, is an honor and a welcome recognition of the success we have achieved in this work.
Though much of the community work we do is on the hyperlocal level, we also believe that it is important to counsel and assist other colleges and universities in order to help them to refine and achieve their own civic goals. Wagner has long participated in a number of consortia and organizations dedicated to such matters. In July, I was privileged to begin a term as chairman of Campus Compact, which I have worked with since 2002. This is a coalition of 1,100 colleges, including many of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, that are committed to fulfilling the civic purpose of higher education. This, too, is another recognition of the leadership role we, at Wagner, have taken in community engagement.
Serving as a member institution of this coalition provides those of us at Wagner with an opportunity to understand how civic work is implemented at other colleges and universities across the country. I will be collaborating with other college presidents to renew Campus Compact’s commitment to educating citizens and building communities, because it is who we are.
As you read through this year’s report, I hope you will better understand that the work we do isn’t just in the classroom, but in the neighborhoods that surround our campus, and even in many locations around the world. Our students come to Wagner College to “be part of the city,” as our slogan says, and to have an educational experience that broadens their mind and experience and gives them a chance to apply what they are learning in the classroom in real-life situations. By helping to build the New York City community, they are attaining their goals in a most meaningful and inspiring way — for themselves and for our city, our nation, and our world.
Richard Guarasci, Ph.D.
President, Wagner College
Annual Report 2016