Concordia St. Paul News

October 25, 2018

Criminal Justice Leadership Spotlight: Erv Weinkauf

Erv Weinkauf served as a police officer for 37 years and was the Chief of Police for Brown County in Minnesota. After his retirement from the police force, he earned his degree in criminal justice leadership from Concordia in 2008. Check out how going back to school opened new doors and paved the way for unique opportunities for Weinkauf (including a return to CSP.)

Back to School

Erv Weinkauf headshot

Erv Weinkauf earned his degree in criminal justice leadership from CSP in 2008 and in 2010, he was named chair of CSP’s Criminal Justice Department. He retired from his position in 2016.

Weinkauf knew that he wanted to teach after he retired as a police officer. 

“I knew I needed a graduate degree or more to be competitive,” he explained. “It was my driving force to get me back into school.”

He chose CSP’s online Criminal Justice Leadership program because it offered an accelerated format. He researched it online, spoke to a few people at CSP, and visited campus where he signed up right away. The program’s convenience and affordability sealed the deal.

“I never had to get in my car – I could do everything from home,” he noted. “The flexibility of online learning permitted me to complete a chat or do discussion boards anywhere.”

Once Weinkauf had his routine down, self-discipline and a strong drive kept him focused as he moved through the program.

“I was teaching for four other colleges when I was Chief and now I was a full-time student,” he reflected. “I got into a pattern where I would do my homework and try to complete my papers early – it worked out well for me and was the only way I could get my degree.”

The Criminal Justice Leadership program was just seven weeks long which allowed Weinkauf to earn his degree in 18 months.

Weinkauf praises Concordia’s faculty for providing a quality academic experience to its students.

“The instructors were either actively working in the field and considered to be the best out there or recently retired and had a wealth of knowledge and information,” he commended.

Pursuing A New Path

In 2009, Weinkauf found himself at Concordia again – this time as an adjunct professor in the Criminal Justice Department. Then in 2010, he interviewed for the department chair position.

“I didn’t think I could compete,” he confessed.

His wife offered a swift rebuttal and asked him, “What did you spend the last 20 years of your life preparing for? This could be it!”

And it was. After several interviews, CSP offered him the position. One of the first tasks for the CJ team was to find and construct a new program. He collaborated with Jerrod Brown to create the Forensic Mental Health program – the first of its kind in Minnesota. Four cohorts were registered within months of its introduction.

“I often told people it was a dream come true. I thought I was fortunate to be hired into the position – little did I know that it would lead to building an entirely new graduate program!” he exclaimed.

Building on the program’s foundation, he and Brown co-wrote a book titled, Forensic Mental Health: A Source Guide for Professionals. The textbook addresses the nexus of forensic mental health and legal systems.

A Lasting Impression

Weinkauf retired from his role at CSP in 2016. While he left his mark on the CJ program, CSP left a mutual imprint on his life. He encourages those wondering if they should continue their education to consider it.

“I think about what education did for me: I told students that I was one of the “lucky ones” who got the opportunity to pursue a dream,” he offered. “Students will never know if that can come to fruition for them unless they take the first step.”