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Prof Shares Love of Campus With Future Generations


Everyone who visits Professor of Philosophy and Educational Foundations Paul Wagner in his office remembers it. While guests can expect books to line the walls of most professors' offices, Wagner's offers more – a feeling that only exists in places filled with someone's character and passion. Surrounded by windows, Wagner's corner office houses a desk, computer and shelves filled with philosophy and ethics books, along with a small rug, high-backed chair and a walled-off partition that gives it an at-home feeling. The welcoming setting, as well as the nature-filled views of the campus, makes it the envy of many at University of Houston-Clear Lake.

"When I heard this office was available 25 years ago, I jumped at the chance to be here," says Wagner who joined the university 33 years ago when it was still in its infancy and then became one of only two professors to advance from an assistant professor to full professor in just seven years, both of whom occupied the current office space. Although the other professor moved on to another university 25 years ago when he relinquished the prized office, Wagner has stayed in touch professionally on several publications.

When asked what his favorite memory is during his time at UH-Clear Lake, Wagner hesitates.

"That's a tough question," says Wagner. "I have all sorts of memories…this has been my life."

So much a part of his life, that Wagner has left a lasting legacy to UH-Clear Lake, a bequest that will fund "The Wagner Lecture Series." Through the series a visiting philosophy professor will make a presentation at UH-Clear Lake on an annual basis, which is one way Wagner believes will guarantee to keep the discipline that has been his life's work going strong after he is gone.

About the bequest, Wagner comments, "I want to make sure philosophy lives on at UH-Clear Lake. This is my way of scratching on the wall: ‘Kilroy was here.'"

His work in ethics began with the realization that most bad things could be traced back to a wrongdoing.

"All the systems and laws that might be in place cannot make up for or stop what wrong or irresponsible people might do," adds Wagner.

His courses are taught in the School of Education and School of Human Sciences and Humanities, offering educators enrolled in the Doctor in Educational Leadership such classes as "Ethics and Social Responsibility in Educational Administration." Wagner's years of research in the field of ethics has resulted in such books as "Ethical Decision-making in School Administration," "Understanding Professional Ethics," "The Ethical Legal and Multicultural Foundations of Teaching" and "Moral Self-Assessment Protocol."

And, just in case people think that Wagner's life might only include philosophy and ethics, his many other interests prove them wrong. With four children, three grown with children of their own and one who's only nine, he's kept on his toes. He enjoys running, although he's now limiting his mileage to only about 20 a week, but can proudly boast that he has run more than 35,000 miles in his lifetime including multiple marathons.

If asked about his passion for opera, Wagner will definitely put on his professor "hat" and explain that one of his favorites is Poulenc's "Dialogues of the Carmelites" precisely because of his study of ethics.

"This type of art is good at stimulating moral idealism," explains Wagner, which is reminiscent of Wagner's favorite advice.

"Protect yourself from moral blindness."

And with the sun shining in the book-lined office that has become like a second home, surrounded by the life he has chosen at the place he has chosen for his legacy, Wagner seems to have done just that.

Supporting programs at UH-Clear Lake through bequests and wills like Wagner did is a very easy process. For more information about leaving a bequest, contact us at (281) 283-2019 or

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to University of Houston-Clear Lake a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to University of Houston-Clear Lake, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

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A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to UH-Clear Lake or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

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Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to UH-Clear Lake as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to UH-Clear Lake as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and UH-Clear Lake where you agree to make a gift to UH-Clear Lake and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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