Professor of Psychology Dr. Lee Wigert was declared by Psy Chi psychology honorary as “Hastings College’s greatest storyteller.” On April 16, in the Morrison-Reeves Science Center, the HC community celebrated Wigert beginning a new chapter in his story: retirement.
“One of the things my students respond to greatly is I’m a storyteller. I’m telling stories about life, life issues, life changes so that they can understand from my experiences of life. I always focused on sharing experience, strength and hope with people I work with … I find that is a good foundation for living life,” Wigert said.
Wigert will be retiring from HC at the end of the 2019 spring semester after 30 years of teaching. His academic focus was on psychology, social psychology and the psychology of religion.
“I’ve had memorable moments here almost every day,” Wigert said.
Wigert was awarded the HC Faculty Achievement Award and the 2002 Vondrak Outstanding Advisor Award in 2002.
“It was very humbling to receive … It’s an affirmation of what you are trying to do here: give yourself to the students and do the best job you can,” Wigert said.
Wigert is also involved in the community, serving as pastor at United Methodist church in Hastings. He is also an ordained United Methodist clergy member.
Wigert is also an activist for mental health. In addition to being a licensed mental health practitioner and a licensed professional counselor, he has gone to the state legislature on several occasions to advocate for increased mental health services.
“Some people ask me, ‘Is this for the college or for the church or for us?’ Well, it’s just doing this for service … Wherever I see a need, I seek to try to fulfill it,” Wigert said.
Wigert graduated from HC in 1974 with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in sociology. He received a masters of arts from the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO), his masters of divinity from Union Theology Seminary and his doctor of ministry from Drew University. He received his doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“The amazing thing for me is when I first came here (to HC) is most of my professors were still here. It was quite a transition to accept myself as a colleague because I still viewed myself — and still do today — as a student,” said Wigert.
Over the summer, Wigert will be moving with his wife, Diane Wigert, to Papillion, Nebraska. He will be a pastor at the First United Methodist Church in Plattsmouth. He will also be teaching one class at UNO in social psychology.
“I like the intellectual stimulation of being with students,” Wigert said.