Bruce Wagner ’64, BEE ’65, MEng ’66 was an engineering manager at AT&T Bell Labs, where he led the planning and development of telecommunications systems. He is immediate past president and web community manager for the Class of 1964, a Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network (CAAAN) general chair and member of the CAAAN Advisory Committee, a member of Cornell’s Adult University Advisory Board, and secretary and web community manager for the Cornell Club of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in New Jersey.
How did you start your journey as a Cornell volunteer?
After receiving my MEng degree, I started work at AT&T Bell Labs where I spent a rewarding career. My campus recruiter, E. Ben Peterson ’47, was a mentor to me who introduced me to the many opportunities to support Cornell in my community and region. At the time we met, Ben was the local CAAAN chair. He invited me to join CAAAN, where I met many other young Cornellians. That was also the beginning of my tenure as a co-recruiter with Ben to identify and recruit engineers from Cornell. Ben, I and other alumni recruited hundreds of Cornellians for AT&T.
You wear many Cornell hats, what drew you to each group?
This has been an organic experience for me. Starting in CAAAN and with our local Cornell Club, more experienced alumni volunteers led me to Cornell-wide roles. For example, several of my class officers who live nearby led to me class leadership, and eventually to the class presidency. I’ve also enjoyed trying different alumni experiences and found my knowledge, skills and contacts easily transferrable. For example, early in my alumni years, I was involved in my fraternity alumni board and later on, the Cornell University Council.
Is there a Cornell program or initiative that is near and dear to your heart?
CAAAN has been my most enduring involvement. Meeting with eager, curious, and bright applicants, and helping them “see” themselves at Cornell, has never gotten old. I see CAAAN as a lifelong opportunity for alumni. The increasing diversity of Cornell’s alumni and applicant pool has kept the experience fresh.
What has been your favorite volunteer moment?
Certainly my most intense experience was co-chairing our 50th class Reunion. Far more than a moment, two years of planning involved me with over 100 classmates and superb staff from Cornell University Alumni Affairs. Our planning was so thorough, and there were so few surprises, that I was able to participate in all our Reunion activities.
How has Cornell impacted who you are today?
I chose to attend Cornell rather than a technical institute to gain exposure to a broad range of ideas, people, and educational experiences. Those benefits continued through my decades as an alumni volunteer. I’ve especially appreciated the strong sense of community among Cornell alumni—certainly including my engineering classmates.
What has motivated your lifelong philanthropy?
There is so much need in this world. I feel privileged to be able to help others in a variety of ways, including Cornell undergraduates. And it’s my Cornell education, in part, that’s allowed me to do this.
Do you have a favorite class or extracurricular from your time at Cornell?
My class was the last year of a five-year engineering program, opening me to many free electives. Among my favorites were the History of Art and Economics. My Cornell education has continued since then, especially through summer classes with Cornell’s Adult University, taught by outstanding Cornell faculty.
Do you have a message for newly graduated alumni looking to volunteer?
Absolutely! You are so fortunate, because Cornell alumni are active worldwide, and you bring the most recent Cornell experience to your volunteering. There are so many ways to get involved, to meet new people, to share their expertise and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. You can get started through classmates, a local Cornell Club or CAAAN. Or check CU Volunteer for specific opportunities.
If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering or giving at Cornell, please fill out this short form and a member of the Northeast Corridor Team will reach out to you.