Wartburg provided the structure and support I needed

By Katie Hirv ’22

Dr. Steve Schulz ’83 didn’t have to look far when he was searching for a college. After years of attending Wartburg’s basketball camp as a high school student, he knew he wanted to play for Coach Buzz Levick.  

“Our basketball coach was a Wartburg graduate and former basketball player. He sent us to Wartburg for a basketball camp, and I had a really dynamic experience there. I returned for basketball camp every year after that,” Schulz said. “But, it was also about the people. Coach Levick was a really positive person in my life as a high school kid. To be able to play and learn from him was an experience I benefit from yet today.”

Through his time at Wartburg, Schulz found invaluable relationships with students, faculty, and staff. This support allowed Schulz to grow and learn, both personally and professionally.

“I was from a small high school and town. Wartburg provided the structure and support I needed to mature as a person and a learner. I’ll be forever grateful for that experience,” Schulz said. “My engagement with athletics, the people I met, and the relationships I built with faculty and staff really helped me grow and get a foundation in work ethics and morals. It was a perfect environment for a small-town kid who had a lot of learning and growing to do.”

After graduating from Wartburg with a degree in history and a minor in physical education, Schulz began teaching at Northeast Hamilton in Blairsburg. Two years later, he moved to Nashua to begin a new teaching job.

Steve Schulz

“One of my assignments there was to teach psychology. I needed some credits to be certified to do that. I then went to UNI and got a master’s degree in secondary administration and graduated in 1989. I taught for seven years then became a principal at Plainfield.”

Schulz has also taught in Carroll and at Des Moines Area Community College. He also has completed an education specialist degree and a secondary administration master’s program, and has a doctorate in education from Iowa State University.

Schulz is now approaching his seventh year as president of North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC).

“I thought when I left Wartburg, I would become a basketball coach like Coach (Buzz) Levick. Things and times changed. I really enjoyed graduate school and the opportunity to lead a school district. I never thought I’d be a college president, but it’s been a great ride. I love every job I’ve had,” Schulz said. “I work with the board of directors, set the direction for the college, and respond to needs across the college, whether they be academic or physical needs. Essentially, I act as the public face of NIACC. I represent everyone who works here in my role.”

Although Schulz’s academic career at Wartburg came to an end, the college’s mission statement heavily influences how he chooses to approach his role as president of NIACC.

“I think our mission here at NIACC is very similar to Wartburg’s. We’re trying to help students find their way to future jobs and develop as people along the way. I’m fortunate I get to live that mission through my work every day,” Schulz said.

Reflecting on his undergraduate and graduate careers, Schulz has learned countless lessons, the most important being the ability to show gratitude and appreciation for others.

“My first piece of advice would be to be grateful. Thank those people who made things happen for you. The second thing I would say is to make the most out of your time. Remember the foundation that Wartburg gives you after you leave and try to help others have the same experience,” Schulz said. “Wartburg provided me the foundation to enter the workforce and continue to advance and succeed. I learned to care about and support others, mature, and grow, both personally and professionally. It was the right fit.”