By Elijah McGuire-Berk
After 34 years of teaching at Washington College, Assistant Professor of English Dr. Kathy Wagner is planning to retire.
A member of the Class of 1979, she served as an assistant to the provost for two years before becoming a professor.
Dr. Wagner is credited with helping to create the Rose O’Neill Literary House and served as its associate director for 23 years from 1985 until 2008.
Dr. Wagner cited a few reasons that prompted her retirement.
She said, “I think it’s time to do something new and to give young academics a chance to teach, pass the baton to some of the younger people in academia. I also feel that I’ve done what I can do here at the College at this point.”
“I’ve done a lot of different things. As I’ve said, I was the associate director of the Literary House, I was director of the Gender Studies Program for six years, I was advisor for the Presidential Fellows, and I’ve taught a huge number of courses.” She said that she’s done, “a little bit of everything,” and has enjoyed it a lot.
She affected many during her time at WC.
Junior Casey Williams has been one of Dr. Wagner’s advisees for the past three years.
“It’s been a wonderful experience having her as a professor and as an advisor. She cares so much about her students — whenever I was in a fix, I could confide in her and know I had someone who was looking out for me,” she said.
She said that she will miss Dr. Wagner, but is happy for her. She described her retirement as bittersweet.
Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Sean Meehan has fond memories of Dr. Wagner.
“We both actively taught English 101 over the time that I’ve been here… I’ve worked in particular with her in that and one of the things I know and value about her experience is her particular involvement with teaching first year students.”
He said, “I recall meeting Kathy my very first day, I think I went out to dinner with her my very first night here as a part of the group I was meeting with.”
He remembered that she, “stood out to me as someone that knows the College, knows the area, really has always had her eye on protecting the integrity of the College and its program and its mission. … It’s very important to have someone in the department who’s connected to the College in that way.”
Associate Professor of English and American Studies Dr. Alisha Knight worked closely with Dr. Wagner over the 13 years they have known each other.
“She has been a wonderful colleague. I will miss her and her extensive institutional memory about the College, the Literary House, and the English deptartment curriculum.”
Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing Dr. Robert Mooney said, “Kathy Wagner was one of the first people that I worked very closely with when I came to WC. I’m really happy for Kathy…She’ll surely be missed. She was a student-oriented teacher and administrator.”
“She gave a feeling at the Lit House of people being welcome when they walked in. A lot of our success in our writing program, that has a strong national reputation, is in part due to her and her professional relationship with the students. She helped to set the tone that’s been so successful.”
Current faculty are not the only ones who admire Dr. Wagner. Retired WC Philosophy Professor Robert Anderson said, “Kathy Wagner is a brilliant teacher and an inspiration to work with.”