Co-defendant takes plea deal after testifying about girl's murder

Wagman Construction chairman graduates with daughter

David Weissman
  • Joe Wagman, chairman of Wagman Construction, earned a degree in archaeology from Dickinson College.
  • Wagman's youngest daughter graduated seconds before him and handed him his diploma.

Joe Wagman proudly watched his youngest daughter walk across the stage Sunday at Dickinson College to receive her diploma. Then she turned around and handed him his.

Joe Wagman, chairman of Wagman Construction, embraces his youngest daughter, Anna, after the two received their diplomas as Gov. Tom Wolf looks on at Dickinson College's Commencement Ceremony.

The 65-year-old chairman of York-based Wagman Construction, who originally graduated from Georgetown University in 1973 with a degree in accounting and finance, was awarded a bachelor's degree in archaeology after eight years of classes at Dickinson.

Wagman said he always had an interest in archaeology, but his career had limited his time to study the subject.

After reading about an archaeological dig in Greece that was headed by a Dickinson professor, Wagman reached out the college and was eventually granted admission, needing 16 credits to graduate.

"I took one credit per semester," Wagman said, "so along with work, I didn't have time to watch a lot of TV these past eight years."

Joe Wagman, chairman of Wagman Construction, sifting through soil with his two daughters on an archaeological dig in Greece. His youngest daughter, Anna (left), graduated with Joe at Dickinson College on Sunday, May 22.

Daughter: The college also served as a way to stay close to his youngest daughter, Anna, who chose to attend Dickinson despite "her worst nightmare" of taking a class her father, Wagman said, laughing.

"She had her own space, it was nice," he said. "We were able to just get lunch together and talk about classes sometimes."

While he didn't have any classes with his daughter, he was always the oldest student, he said.

"The kids were great," he said. "They just treated me like any other student."

Because Dickinson is a liberal arts college, Wagman was required to take some classes not related to archaeology, including one on U.S. diversity, which he said ended up being really interesting.

When graduation came, Wagman noted that Dickinson had a legacy program, which allowed alumni to present family members with their degrees. Since Anna came before Joe alphabetically, Wagman asked if his daughter could present him his degree, and the school accommodated.

His daughter graduated with a degree in anthropology with a medical focus, and she will be continuing her education at Emory University in Atlanta.

What's next: Wagman said the he had a great time during the commencement, which also included his longtime friend, Gov. Tom Wolf, as speaker.

Now that he's graduated, Wagman joked that he might take a gap year.

"Maybe I'll backpack around Europe, figure out what I really want to do with the rest of my life," he said, jokingly.

On a more serious note, Wagman said he still has not set timeline for his retirement, but he's planning on traveling to Greece for some archaeological digs, which he did several times during his enrollment at Dickinson.

He's most interested in learning more about Mycenaean culture, he added.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.