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Wagenbach, Director of ENTS, retires after 39 years at Carleton

<ofessor Gary Wagenbach, Winfred and Atherton Bean Professor of Biology, Science, Technology, and Society and Director of Environmental and Technology Studies has recently announced his retired from teaching at Carleton, where he has taught for the past 39 years.

He says of the time he has spend at Carleton, “it seems like a long time in some respects but in others it seems like it went by very, very quickly….I came in 1969.”

Wagenbach recalls that he was first introduced to Carleton by one of his own professors at the University of Wisconson River Falls, where he also received an MD and PhD. “I asked [him] where he though I should apply to teach…since I knew very little about the private school world, having been educated at a public university…” He says of his decision to teach at Carleton, “it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”

Besides teaching a wide variety of classes, Wagenbach has been hihgly influential for Carleton’s study abroad programs. a wide range of students.”

Wagenbach has done more than his share of work aboard. He “helped develop some of the earliest off campus study abroad programs include one in Bromuda, Washington State, California, Australia and New Zealand (both part of the Marin Biology aboard program), the Cook Islands, Tanzenia…maybe 18 [off campus programs in total]”

Wagenbach’s chair titled, which has been held by 2 previous professors, will be passed on and announced at the Honors Convocation, which occurs tomorrow afternoon. “Since I am stepping down I will keep my title but am on Emeritus Status by the Board of Tustees as of September 1”.

The Emeritus Status is the label given to retired professor but who retain their titles and access to college resources. Wagenbach also hopes to a get a campus office so he may continue to conduct research. “Other Emeritus professors have offices on campus or at home to work on projects or write books or if they teach at the Northfield Elder Collegium”. The Cannon Valley Elder Collegium (CVEC), according to the official CVEC website, “provides high quality academic experiences for humanities for students over age 50 (retired or not)”.

Wagenbach’s retirement plans involved increased time with his family, continuing his research and projects, and some travel. “My plan is to continue to live in the area. [My wife and I] live about 8 miles outside of Northfield. I’ll continue my forest restoration projects. My interest in field biology is being exercised as is my interest in natural history. I want to continue my research on the Canon River” said Wagenbach. Wagenbach has conducted Canon River for 15 years and is currently working with Mike Swift of St. Olaf’s Biology Department.

“[I’ve been a] elected supervisor member of the Rice Soil and Water Conservation District…which I’ve served on for 10 years… we focus on water quality and land care issues. [On the board] I represent the Cannon River Watershed Partnership (CRWP) [in the RSWCD meetings]”. He is also envolved in the Valley Grove Preservation Society which he helps organize tree grove planting for.

Besides continuing his activity in the Northfield Community, he plans to spend time with his 7 grandchildren, visit family in Washington State, and see old students from Carleton. He has considered taking a train trip down the coasts or across the country to visit old students.

Although Wagenbach has no immediate plans to, he may eventually return to teaching at some point. He says, “I’ll have the chance to do informal teaching, I can always go back.”

Wagenbach says that Carleton has “fermented for me the value of a liberal arts education. The extensive options at Carleton to teach and learn has expanded what a liberal arts education meant beyond what I thought coming in the door. Carleton is a remarkable community.”

“Another thing I’ve learned is how multifaceted some of the challenges in our world are and how viewing things [with] different insights can lead to better approaches to these problems. For example environmental problems require many disciplines for a true understanding. More interdisciplinary thinking is something I highly value,” said Wagenbach.

Wagenbach says what he will miss most about Carleton is “the motivation and energy in the students in following intellectual threads and the motivation and energy I get from teaching…[I will miss] the intense exchange with students and colleagues and getting to know His parting word to the students, faculty and staff he has worked with for nearly 4 decades is “be true to your intellectual and cultural passions. Keep learning. Be embedded in your community wherever you find yourself and support the talents of your fellow citizens.”

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