Rock Valley College

RVC Awards 2019 Faculty of the Year

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2019

Media Contact: RVC Public Relations, 815-921-4510

Brian Wagner Faculty of the Year 2019

Brian Wagner, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, has been honored as the 31st recipient of the Rock Valley College Faculty of the Year award.  Fellow faculty members, campus colleagues, and Wagner’s family were on hand on April 18 as Professor Wagner was presented his award during the college’s faculty development session.

Wagner has taught at RVC since 2010. He received his Associate of Arts in Foreign Languages from Vincennes University, and his B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy from Northern Illinois University. Classes he has taught at RVC most recently include Environmental Ethics, Introduction to Religion, World Religions, and Foundational Religious Texts.

His contributions to the department and the college go beyond classroom instruction. Wagner has been engaged in creating new curriculum for a number of philosophy courses, organizing a World Religions Field Trip each semester, and is actively involved as a guest lecturer on the RVC campus, at other colleges and universities, and in the community. He also serves on numerous college committees, as advisor for the Interfaith and Philosophy student organizations, and serves as the Grand Marshall for the college’s commencement ceremony.

Wagner’s colleague, Professor Michelle Rotert, says of Wagner, “He sets and then achieves a program of philosophical, pedagogical and professional development that has astonishing depth and breadth. Some people find fuel in the pursuit of excellence, and I believe Brian is one of them. His classes fill to capacity and I know from direct student reports that his students find him to be thorough, understandable, kind and fair. He is an avid learner, a wise and kind teacher, a devoted colleague, a budding leader, a master organizer, a hard-working community member, a dear friend, and a genuinely excellent human being.”

In Wagner’s own words, he describes himself as someone who is always striving for a better understanding of the world and the people around him.

“The practice of philosophy does not have a specific end except that it strives for greater and greater understanding,” says Wagner. “From the moment I get up until the moment I fall back asleep, I am asking questions, searching for answers and evaluating old ones. One of my goals is to prove myself wrong in every situation. If I succeed, then the opportunity to improve my worldview arises. If I fail, then I can rest momentarily in the belief that I am right… until the next opportunity to question myself arises again. 

“Another one of my goals is to help people see why people believe what they believe.  The ability to take on another person’s perspective is necessary in breaking down the imaginary boundaries that separate us.  If we could see the reasons why other people believe and act the way they do, there would be less fighting, less hatred, and more compassion.  When teaching, I try to get students to see the world from a different perspective to broaden their appreciation for others.” 

Outside of the college, Wagner spends most of his time reading books, traveling to religious sites, interviewing people, and thinking deeply about philosophical issues. When he needs a break, he enjoys spending time in the arms of his loving wife, Tricia.

Faculty of the Year Recipients at Rock Valley College

2019: Brian Wagner
2018: Amanda Kieper
2017: Paul Laprade
2016: Dr. Chris Kramer
2015: Joe Haverly
2014: Dr. Paul McCombs
2013: Crystal Dinwiddie
2012: Dr. Michael Youngblood
2011: Dr. Julie Hernandez
2010: Linden Griesbach
2009: Erin Fisher
2008: Robert Hessel
2007: Dr. Beth Ingle
2006: Dr. Penelope Blake
2005: Diane Koenig
2004: Norma Anderberg-Freeberg
2003: Dr. Martin Quirk
2002: Judy Straffin
2001: Tom Lombardo
2000: Dr. Michelle Rotert
1999: Peter Frisk
1998: Robert Benham
1997: Karen Messley
1996: Richard Rundall
1995: Kanwal Prashar
1994: Nancy Sylvester
1993: Larry Zachary
1992: Dave Arnold
1991: Jack Simon
1990: Dave Ross
1989: Dave Gustafson