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Alumni Success Stories

Ralph Wagoner

What year (years) did you graduate and which program(s) did you complete?
I graduated in 1967 with a  PhD.
In Curriculum and Instruction with minor in Research.

What were some of your biggest challenges after graduating that shaped your career?
I have a few challenges that shaped my career. The first was the decision to seek employment at an institution, Drake University, where outstanding teaching was the highest priority and where there also existed the possibility of entering into the administrative side of the operation.  While many believed that I would be better served to go to a more "research-oriented" institution, my primary advisors, Dave Turney and Arch Phillips, were supportive of my choice. 

Also, the decision to follow others' encouragement to enter into the world of  public affairs and development while at Drake resulted in my position as vice president for Public Affairs and Development at Western Illinois University. And, that eventually led to me becoming president of WIU.

One of the more interesting opportunities/challenges was bringing a "private university development mentality" to a regional public university, and it worked. Many of the teachings of Dave Turney and his realistic approach to life, in general, were forged in my brain.

Perhaps one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges was assisting in the process of identifying the core values upon which everything within the institution stood.  This was particularly rewarding while I served Augustana College in South Dakota as president and later following retirement from Augie when I served the Lutheran Educational Conference of North America as its president.

What has been your most significant professional accomplishment since graduating?
My most significant accomplishment has been having the opportunity to serve with students, faculty and staff and to know, year in and year out, that the educational experience of which I was a small part was making a difference in the lives of those the institution touched.  To know that the graduates were going forth to serve, their God, their families, their profession, their community and society armed with a sense of who they were and with the ability to compete with the best in their professions made the effort priceless.