Leaving a Legacy: Waggoner retiring after this semester

One of the professors with the most profound impact on MCCC over the past quarter century is retiring at the end of the semester.

Chemistry professor Dr. David Waggoner says he is looking forward to retirement after more than 25 years of service with the college.

Waggoner has worked tirelessly for the college, the faculty and staff, and the thousands of students he has interacted with throughout hundreds of lectures and laboratories, said Dr. Roger Spalding, professor of Physics & Astronomy.

“As another professor at Monroe once said, Dave is truly a Renaissance man,” Spalding said. “He is versed in the sciences and in the arts; he can talk knowledgably about quantum physics and Rembrandt.”

His plans for retirement aren’t quite set in stone yet, Waggoner said.

“I’m trying to be very open minded about what I might do,” Waggoner said. “I’m not saying I’ll never work again.”

He doesn’t, however, think he’ll work in the field of chemistry.

“The idea behind my retirement is to, kind of, get a break from that,” he said.

Over the years, Waggoner has led a very active career, involving himself in various projects and committees.

It was a little over 25 years ago that MCCC’s chemist in the Math-Science Division decided to pursue other interests, Spalding said.

The Math-Science dean at the time, Alan Hileman, asked a chemistry professor at Owens Community College about potential candidates for the job, Spalding said. As fate would have it, they knew a colleague who may be interested in a faculty position at Monroe. 

“That was how Dr. David Waggoner was hired,” he said. “Dave has become one of the finest colleagues that anyone could hope to have.”

When Waggoner discovered the amazing qualities of MCCC, he knew this is where he wanted to be, he said.

“One thing in particular that I was delighted about was when I found out they did have an active union here,” Waggoner said. “I wanted to be involved in that right from the beginning.”

Waggoner has provided insight about how to handle certain situations, said current union President Mark Bergmooser, assistant professor of Speech/Tae Kwon Do.

“Dr. Waggoner is a consummate professional,” Bergmooser said. “He has served as a mentor to so many new faculty both in and out of his division.”

Waggoner has held various positions in the union over the years, including president.

“The union was a big part of my life,” he said.

During his time as chief negotiator, he negotiated several important contracts, Waggoner said.

One of his biggest accomplishments with the union was a contract he obtained that offered fair pay for faculty who were originally required to work an additional six weeks without additional pay, he said.

“We had a long, hard struggle in those negotiations,” Waggoner said. “That was a big win for the faculty.”

Along with his many other accomplishments, Waggoner also was a member of the presidential search committee that led to the hiring of Dr. Kojo Quarty. He’s a member of Die Deutsche Sprachgroppe (The German Language group) and has trained for and completed the 26.2 mile Detroit marathon.

“Dr. Waggoner exemplifies the ideal higher education experience,” said Vinnie Maltese, dean of the Math-Science Division. “He has done this, not only through a high level of accomplishment in the discipline he teaches, but by embracing all aspects of human achievement.” 

Waggoner was also co-chair of the 2009 Self-Study Report which led to the continued accreditation of the college through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of College and Schools.

“It’s a very important thing,” Dr. Waggoner said. “The college’s accreditation is crucial to have.”

Without it, students are not eligible for federal aid of any kind – essentially, the college would have to shut down, he said. The college has to obtain accreditation through a very detailed report every ten years, and the accreditation process and the completion of the Self Study Report take several years to complete, Dr. Waggoner added.

“It’s the way we maintain quality assurance in the colleges and universities in this country,” he said. “It’s an awesome responsibility to have.”

In 1995, Dr. Waggoner received the prestigious honor of Professor of the Year from the college based upon good teaching, service to the college and to the community.

Since starting at MCCC, Dr. Waggoner has seen almost a complete turnover in faculty, he said.

“There have always been very good, highly professional faculty at MCCC,” Dr. Waggoner said. “There are great people in the Math-Science Division, and in the other divisions as well.”

When opportunities presented themselves to be on committees that interview and hire the new faculty to lead the future of the college, Dr. Waggoner said he had to grab it.

“There’s hardly anything more exciting than hiring a new, young enthusiastic faculty person who’s up-to-date on what’s going on in their field, with the technology, and so forth,” he said. “With that in mind, I leave really feeling almost fulfilled myself from just being a part of hiring the new people that are going to carry on.”

It’s his way of being a part of MCCC’s legacy, he said.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Bowling Green in 1969, he returned to obtain his master’s in 1975. Dr. Waggoner began his career at MCCC in 1988, and in 1993 he went on to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Toledo in the field of Research and Measurement.

One thing he is looking forward to after retirement is a Viking River voyage along the Danube River through Germany, Austria and Hungary, he has planned with his wife, Vicky, of 29 years, he said. Dr. Waggoner and his wife have plans to travel further as they are able to.

“Traveling is something we really enjoy doing,” he said.

He is also looking forward to spending time with their 7-year-old granddaughter, Samantha, by their only child, Quentin.

Dr. Waggoner has always been approachable, Bergmooser said.

“I always felt that I could talk to him,” he said. “I will miss him.”

Dr. Waggoner has been a friend and mentor to me for many years, Maltese said.

“Although I will miss him, I celebrate and wish him the best in his transition to a new phase in his life,” he said.

His presence will be felt through his many accomplishments, for his calm and insightful reflections on the directions we have taken in the past and his views on where we should be headed in the future, Spalding said.

“Dave will be missed by all that have come to know him,” he said.