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About Michael Waggoner

I arrived in Iowa in the summer of 1988 with a young family and with energy and excitement for the work ahead of me.  I was to coordinate the technology initiatives of the University of Northern Iowa, College of Education and teach in the student affairs graduate program.  I had come from the University of Michigan where I worked for several years and completed a PhD in higher education as a field of study.  Having grown up in the Midwest, the move to Iowa and UNI was a comfortable transition.  Though there was much work to do, the overall pace of life was conducive to maintaining a balance between job and family.
Shortly after my arrival a few of us involved in the student affairs master's program began a process of redesign that resulted in the shape of the program as it exists today. I have had a longstanding interest in curriculum, course development, and teaching and learning that provides students with rich learning environments that connect theory to practice.  Over the years we continued to make changes within this framework in response to student needs and trends in the profession. 
My personal interests have evolved over time as is the case with most people.  Within the year of my arrival (1989) I was made Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Postsecondary Education: Student Affairs, a hat I continue to wear.  The technology part of my work had been a sustained interest through the 80s and occasioned much of my early writing.  By the early 90s though, my interest in the technical side of that work began to wane.  It increasingly involved staying current with technology rather than teaching and learning applications using technology and I realized that I didn't aspire to information technology (IT) work as it was coming to be known.  An opportunity came in 1994 to be interim department head, an opportunity I welcomed as a way to broaden my experience.  This two year appointment stretched into longer term administrative work that I continued, with one break, through the summer of 2009.
My scholarly interests evolved over time as well.  Some time in the early 90s I became interested in the growing knowledge debates, how we know what we know, who says which approach to knowing is most valid?  During this time discussions were heating up around qualitative vs. quantitative research in education.  This led me to an interest in the ideological climate of higher education and the not-so-subtle antipathy to ways of thinking that run counter to prevailing orthodoxies on many campuses, public and private.  This in turn led to years of study and thinking about spirituality and religion and how they relate (or do not) to the work of the university, faculty, and student affairs professionals.  In 2000 I assumed the editorship of the peer-reviewed scholarly journal, Religion & Education ( I continue to enjoy more than 13 years later.  I have also written on these issues, including an edited book in 2011 entitled, Sacred and Secular Tensions in Higher Education: Connecting Parallel Universities, and, most recently, Religion in the Public Schools: Negotiating the New Commons.  
I have enjoyed teaching several courses over my career:  Teaching in College, Current Issues in Higher Education, Organization and Governance of Postsecondary Education, Public Policy in Higher Education, History and Philosophy of Higher Education, and Practicum and Internship in Postsecondary Education.  I teach one on-going course through Guided Independent Study called, Life and Work: Discerning Values and vocation.
I include a resume that you are welcome to peruse.   It will sketch for you a life that includes a stint as a warehouse foreman as I finished my undergraduate history degree from Wheaton College; five years of service as an Army officer in the 70s; and a master's degree in history from the University of Toledo finished while working at the University of Alaska before pursuing PhD work at The University of Michigan. 
Into my sixties I am still a work in progress, perhaps best characterized by this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.
I live my life in growing orbits
Which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
But that will be my attempt.


Present Professor, Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education, University of Northern Iowa Department of Educational Leadership and Postsecondary Education


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Contact Information

University of Northern Iowa
Bartlett Hall 2126
Cedar Falls, IA 50613-0604

Office: BAR 2126
Phone: (319) 273-3350


Books (4)

Contributions to Books (3)

Articles (21)