Career Services administrative secretary Gloria Wagener died unexpectedly on campus Thursday, April 14, at the age of 67.
A memorial service is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, at Snow Funeral Home, 3775 N. Center Road in Saginaw Township.
She began working at the University in May 1974 in the Career Planning and Placement Office and returned to the office – now dubbed “Career Services” – after working in other on-campus departments, including the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences, the Business and Industrial Development Institute, the Center for Business and Economic Development and the Controller’s Office.
It was in the Career Services office where Wagener made an enormous impact on the students, alumni, faculty, staff and employers she served.
“Gloria was the face of our office when … (they) stepped into our office,” said Assistant Director of Career Services Bill Stec. “She greeted them with a warm welcome and went above and beyond her duties to make sure they were taken care of before meeting with any of us directors or peer career advisers.”
“She loved the students and alumni of SVSU as if each and every one were her own child,” added Director of Career Services Mike Major. “She was passionately dedicated to ensuring that anyone who entered our office received the help they needed. She believed that Career Services connects students and alumni to their future goals, and very much wanted to see every single person who walked into our office reach his or her goals.”
Wagener served for 20 years as the first president of the SVSU Support Staff Association, MEA/NEA. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Education Association and the executive board of the National Council for Higher Education.
One of Wagener’s favorite success stories, Major said, was when she helped Jim Barcia — a Democratic politician who served in the Michigan House of Representatives and the U.S. House of Representatives — type his resume as he was getting ready to graduate.
She also rearranged the entire Student of the Year award process when the National Student Employment Associated introduced a nationwide competition, which allowed SVSU students the chance to compete in this competition.
This allowed the 2016 SVSU Student Employee of the Year, Zach Metiva, to win the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators Student Employee of the Year award for Michigan.
Stec met Wagener in 2010 when he returned to work full-time at the University, and began to work with her in April 2014 when he joined the Career Services staff.
“Gloria was not just a secretary, (but) she was the heart and soul of our office,” he said. “She made sure our office was in operation every single day, especially when us three directors are in and out of the office attending chamber events or conferences or giving classroom lectures.”
Major met Wagener in 2006 when she was working at SVSU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
“She was among the friendliest, warmest and most outgoing people I have ever met,” he said. “When I found out a couple years later that (she) was going to join our Career Services team, I could not have been any happier.”
Major said he’ll always miss Wagener’s warm smile and enthusiastic way of greeting him whenever he entered the office.
“At no other point in my life was I happier to see that big smile of hers than I was on Aug. 3, 2012,” he said.
“Gloria came to the airport and welcomed me home from my deployment to Afghanistan. She stood next to my mom.
“She loved being a part of our Career Services family and we loved her.”