Get to know CUW Dean of Students and Professor of Education Dr. Steve Gerner!

Before starting at Concordia in 2008, Gerner began his career as an educator in Reno, Nevada, and then returned to his home state to serve as principal of Siloah School in Milwaukee. At Concordia, he teaches courses related to diversity, city education, leadership, and teacher quality. His research, writing, and other creative endeavors are focused on educational transformations, with particular emphasis on leadership and classroom management.

His passion for “the underdog” translates into an ardent care and concern for all students. That, coupled with his winning sense of humor and love of the Lord, makes him a valued asset on the CUW campus. Take a moment to get to know some of the lesser-known facts about Dr. Gerner with this quick Q&A!

Dr. Steve Gerner

Dean of Students and Professor of Education

Who was most influential to your career choice?

Mrs. Habeck, my second grade teacher, was most influential in my decision to pursue a career in education. When she presented me with the “Best Penmanship Award” for all of second grade, I was hooked.

What is a quality you look for in a friend?

Optimistic, adventurous, loyal 

What would you choose to eat for your birthday meal?

I would skip the meal and choose a lemon “Nothing Bundt Cake.” As advertised, this would bring joy and make my celebration sweeter. Special note: My birthday is July 24. 

What’s one thing that can instantly make your day better?

My day always gets better when I can joke around with a student. Witnessing a student laughing, feeling some joy, and experiencing a sense of belonging is very fulfilling.

Share a dangerous situation or decision you’ve had?

Last semester for the first time, I shot the T-shirt cannon into the student section of the men’s basketball conference championship games. Unsure of how much power the cannon possessed, I felt the pressure of making sure the T-shirts would not injure a student (poke out an eye or cause a bruise). The cannon actually struggled to produce much power so many of the T-shirts had to be thrown by hand. But don’t worry, the T-shirts and excitement produced were credited as a major factor of the men’s team winning the game.

Four seasons or year-round warm weather?

Definitely year-round warm weather. Four seasons is a myth we tell each other in Wisconsin to offer comfort during times of miserable weather. Sunshine makes people happy! 

Do you have any hidden talents?

No hidden talents, but every day I view with pride the Concordia University Wisconsin “Dean of Students Ping Pong Championship Trophy.” Each semester, we host a ping pong tournament where students can try to beat me. Our CUW students are very smart and extremely loving, but are very poor ping pong players.

What do you find most rewarding about your role at Concordia?

Being able to build a positive relationship with students, assisting students through challenging situations, and staying connected with students after graduation

What’s a lesson students have taught you in your time at Concordia?

Our students are absolutely fantastic. I learn from CUW students on a daily basis. Many of our students enjoy country music, but what I picked up was how truly dreadful the sound and lyrics really are to one’s ears. Country music is awful – lesson learned.

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.