“Society is better off when individuals think of themselves as a part of society and contribute”.
Dr. Udaya Wagle, Director of the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Western Michigan University, has a passion for cultivating value in the public sector. He received a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business from Tribhuvan University, located in Nepal. Dr. Wagle also has an MS in Nonprofit Management from Eastern University and received his Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts Boston.
Leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa inspire Dr. Wagle. He admires Gandhi based on his ideals and philosophy and Mother Theresa for her values and focus on public service. Dr. Wagle also found inspiration from his uncles as a child. He heard stories about their success and knew he would not be satisfied staying put. From a young age, Dr. Wagle wanted to contribute to society which motivated him.
Dr. Wagle never envisioned himself becoming a leader and still does not describe himself as a leader in the conventional sense. As a leader, he tries to be democratic, conciliatory, and bring others together. For the Public Affairs and Administration department, Dr. Wagle strives to set the direction for the future by thinking strategically and cultivating relationships.
Throughout his life, Dr. Wagle has not planned his next step. After one phase of his life is over, he then ponders about what opportunities he would like to explore next. Dr. Wagle believes in making the most of each choice because you can never go back. He sets short-term goals for himself, however, does not plan long term.
There have been enormous barriers for Dr. Wagle to get to where he is today. He grew up in a rural area without electricity or transportation. From eighth grade on he had to live on his own with his older brother, away from his family so that he could be near the schools he attended. During college, Dr. Wagle worked and went to school full time in Nepal. He then faced the decision about coming to the United States as an immigrant student for further education. Dr. Wagle would visit the American Library in Nepal and read about colleges he could only imagine attending. He recalls all of these challenges as daunting and enormous.
While Dr. Wagle remains very humble about how far he has come, it is very apparent how hard he’s worked to be successful. In college when he had the option to write in English or Nepali, he always chose English to push himself. His experiences have helped shape the way he teaches and his expectations of students. Dr. Wagle believes in persevering despite challenges, failures, and naysayers. He recommends being able to justify your work, advocating for yourself when approached with challenges, and always be responsive.
Dr. Wagle’s first and most unique job was working at a government office as an external auditor when he was eighteen. However, he remarks that many of his friends would describe being a professor as unique because it is not a “normal job.” All of Dr. Wagle’s jobs have involved the public sector, public sector motivation has been a factor in his career choices.
If you’ve had Dr. Wagle as a professor, you know that he values education and can be serious in the classroom. He also enjoys humor and smiling; he believes laughter is healthy. Accomplishments for himself, the school, and his family make him smile. Dr. Wagle is not very good at relaxing and likes to stay busy. When he does relax, he likes to jog, ride bikes, and spend time with his family.
Dr. Wagle stresses the importance of cultivating the value of public service, not only for public administrators but every person in society. He feels, “you should not look at yourself but what the community will gain and what you’re contributing to society.” Dr. Wagle overemphasizes knowing and advises students to know their limitations.
Dr. Wagle encourages future leaders to:
Always… be a responsible and accountable leader who takes consequences seriously.
Never… blame others, be willing to face the consequences.
Follow… what you think is right. However, gather as much information as you can in preparation for making a decision.
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