OLIVIA FOSTER, TRUMPET EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Greg Kneser has been hired as the Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Life at Wartburg.
Kneser previously held the same role at Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio, and at St. Olaf College in St. Paul, Minnesota. During his time at Lourdes, Kneser was inspired by nuns he met, the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania.
“The sisters were fiercely driven and independent and social-justice driven,” said Kneser. “They completely live out their mission as Franciscan nuns. I really fell in love with that environment. It’s a very diverse community, even in Toledo.”
The kindness and acceptance of the Lourdes nuns are just some of the many lessons from his 33 years as a dean of students that Kneser brings to Wartburg.
He follows former dean Dan Kittle, who left in March, after being named the 21st president of Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, SD. Kittle had worked at Wartburg for 16 years.
Kneser also places a high value upon connection with students.
Through learning students’ names, attending school events, and supporting student organizations, Kneser hopes to make himself known as a resource to students, whether they are struggling or just want to have a friendly conversation.
“I know it will take time for students to recognize me and for me to make a name for myself at Wartburg,” said Kneser. “In my experience, it usually takes about two years for people to really learn who I am and I’m going to do the best I can by making myself available and showing up to games and events.”
Students noted Kneser’s approach to his roles as dean of students and vice president of Student Life. His drive to get to know students and be involved around campus is something students see as a positive sign.
“He seems truly interested in what students are doing,” said fourth-year journalism and communication major Henry Hahn. “I met him at the involvement fair and he asked lots of questions and was engaged in what I was saying.”
Even students who haven’t met Kneser are excited about his experience and commitment to the role.
“There are high expectations, but everything I have heard has been positive,” said fourth-year biology major Olivia Szymke. “He sounds like he knows what he’s doing and is well-suited to the role.”
Along with meeting students, Kneser is also excited to work alongside the college’s first female president, Rebecca Neiduski, to put her mission for the college into action.
“I’ve worked for 10 and a half presidents before her. The half was an interim. And I’ve never worked for anyone quite like her. She’s a different cat, just so driven. She truly understands the current student. Not the student of 10 years ago, not the pre-COVID student, but the student of today who is coming out of the pandemic,” said Kneser.
In his free time, Kneser enjoys spending time outdoors, visiting his wife, Sandy, and children, Amelia and Wylie, in Minnesota, and woodworking. Woodworking has become a special hobby of his since he often gifts his creations to others as a show of gratitude.
Kneser started at Wartburg Sept. 1, replacing Jim Bies, who served as interim vice president for student life.
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