Daniels advertising professor retires after 14 years
Teaching Associate Professor Greg Wagner knows his students will be entering the real world once they graduate, so for the past 14 years he has done his best to bring the real world to them — leveraging connections from his 35 years working at high-profile advertising agencies in St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit to give students job opportunities, internship opportunities, and the chance to present to big-name, real-world companies as part of their classwork.
“It’s been so much fun over the years,” said Wagner, who is retiring at the end of this academic year. “I’ve brought in Ford, Nestle-Purina, Comcast, McDonald’s, Cadillac, Vail and Aspen resorts—my students will do a full ad campaign for the client.”
That passion for connecting students with the real world extends to Wagner’s position as director of marketing internships at Daniels, where he has expanded the number of students who get internships from five per semester his first year in the post to more than 30 per semester now. An initial database of about 10 companies has swelled to a list of more than 600 employers in Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, St. Louis, Los Angeles and New York.
“He has made such a difference for our students,” said Carol Johnson, former chair of the marketing department and now assistant dean of MBA programs at Daniels. “We made sure that everybody who wanted an internship had an internship, and they were good quality ones. His connections in his professional life played a great part, and his willingness to share them with students and broker those connections.”
A former creative director at ad agencies D’Arcy MacManus Benton & Bowles and Leo Burnett, where he led successful campaigns for Budweiser, Amoco, Rawling, Proctor & Gamble, Six Flags, Michelob, General Mills and more.
Wagner started his teaching career when his alma mater, the University of Missouri School of Journalism, put out a call to alumni to return to campus to give guest lectures. Wagner took to academia so much that Missouri offered him a job, but he was already making the move to Colorado. He taught a few classes at the University of Colorado Boulder before coming to DU in 2007.
“In my 14 years, the thing I’m proudest of is that I’ve helped probably over 100 students to their first job, either through recommending them or just helping them network,” he said. “I still stay in touch with a couple hundred of my previous students on LinkedIn. I bring them back as guest speakers. It’s really been a nice thing to see it go full circle.”
One of the students he helped with her job hunt is recent Daniels graduate Anna Foley (BA 2021), who with the help of “Professor Wagz,” as his students call him, just landed a job as marketing analyst with Dallas-based Bloom Health Partners.
“He is definitely one of the professors at DU that is known for being a great professor,” she says. “If you have an 8 a.m. class with him, you’ll never dread going to an 8 a.m. He knows his material really well, and he keeps things very efficient and effective. There are things he said that I can’t ever forget, like ‘Surprise and relevance makes memorable advertising.’ I’ll never forget that.
“It’s sad that Professor Wagz is leaving,” Foley continues. “I feel bad for students who could have had him. His classes were some of my favorites at DU.”