Inside Rensselaer
* Carol Wagar

Campus Community Raises Funds for Carol Wagar

In late September, a terrible fire occurred at the home of longtime Rensselaer employee Carol Wagar, leaving her seriously injured with severe burns. Since then, Wagar has been a patient at the Westchester Medical Center Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Following news of the incident, members of the campus community have launched an ever-growing series of fundraising efforts to support Wagar and her family.

Last month, more than 300 students, faculty, and staff attended a luncheon in Wagar’s honor, raising several thousand dollars. The event was coordinated by Patti Mugrace, operations specialist in the Mueller Center, with support from campus dining vendor Sodexo, several campus offices and academic departments, and area businesses who offered items for the raffle prizes.

“Carol’s generosity, her intelligence, her competence, her gift for working with people, and her extraordinary work ethic have long been key elements of the special community that is Rensselaer,” said Kim Boyer, professor and head of the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering (ECSC) in the School of Engineering. “The outpouring of love and support across the campus underscores the incalculable impact she has had on so many lives. In ECSE, as across the Institute, we impatiently await the time when we will be so fortunate as to have her among us again.” 

Wagar has been a Rensselaer employee for 23 years. For the past four years, she has been serving as the administrative specialist for ECSC. Beyond her life at Rensselaer, she is also a private investigator and personal protection specialist. This past year, she worked with Carol Burnett, Engelbert Humperdinck, Alice Cooper, and Michael Bolton, to name a few.

“The outpouring of love and support across the campus underscores the incalculable impact she has had on so many lives. In ECSE, as across the Institute, we impatiently await the time when we will be so fortunate as to have her among us again.” — Kim Boyer

Last week, the School of Engineering held a raffle featuring 13 gift baskets filled with various holiday, sports, kid/family, and gourmet themed offerings. The raffle was coordinated by Laraine Michaelides, assistant in ECSC. The school is also exploring coordinated fundraising efforts to support Wagar’s long-term care needs.

In describing her mother and best friend, Colleen Wagar talked about her “beautiful bright, green eyes, and her strength. I talk to my mom every day. She has a calming effect on me,” said Colleen, a physical therapist who manages a staff of 13 for the Carolina Healthcare System based in Concord, N.C. “She is a fighter and she has the patience of Job. She always sees the best in people, and she loves her job with Kim Boyer.”

Colleen — who has taken leave from her position to be with her mother — noted that this experience has helped her to realize the fragility of life and appreciate the importance of family.

To provide family, friends, and colleagues with regular updates on Wagar’s progress and treatment, Colleen set up a Carepages website through the Westchester Medical Center. A virtual outpouring of more than 500 kind words, inspirational quotes, prayers, and well wishes from more than 260 individuals from New York state to North Carolina have been posted.

“My mom is such a humble person that she would probably say that she doesn’t deserve all this attention,” Colleen said. “I am overwhelmed by mom’s RPI family, which has shown her so much love and seems to have adopted me and cousin Aletha, too. Thank you all so much for everything. It gives me a lot of peace to know that when my mom returns to the area, she’ll be well taken care of.”

More information on a major School of Engineering fundraiser will be available soon. Also, to offer additional support, contact Patti Mugrace at mugrap@rpi.edu. Individuals may send cards to Carol Wagar at the following address: Westchester Medical Center, Room 2304 Trauma ICU, Valhalla, NY 10595-1689.

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Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 17, November 5, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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