Welcome from the Vice President

Many today are asking, “What is the value of a university education, and is it worth it?” An answer to this question depends in part on what makes a university education excellent. While we are absolutely committed to training students in practical skills to get a job, support a family, and build a successful career, we are committed to so much more than this. Indeed, we prepare our students for a life-mission: to become ethical leaders in their communities of family, workplace, and society. How do they become such ethical leaders? By building personal character traits, or “virtues.”

What is the value of virtue? Priceless. Virtues empower students to thrive as individuals with integrity, to contribute to the common good and the flourishing of society, and even to glorify God. Among the core virtues we hold especially dear at Saint Mary’s are wisdom, justice, resilience, courage, self-discipline, hope, zeal, and charity. All this is why “it’s worth it.” (Visit our “Position Statement” for a fuller outline of our vision.)

One saint, Irenaeus of Lyons (d. 202 AD), famously said, “The glory of God is man fully alive” (or “the human being flourishing”). By integrating character and virtue throughout our curriculum and campus life, we hope for no less than that our students might discover a deeply meaningful life, a flourishing life, even that they find life “to the full” (John 10:10).

To that end, students at Saint Mary’s are invited to join their desire for practical job skills and training to the intentional pursuit of moral and intellectual excellence. Indeed, our very motto is Virtus et Scientia. A poor translation of the Latin would be “power and science,” not a very noble aim. A more accurate translation of our motto is actually “virtue and knowledge,” which refers to the union of moral and intellectual virtues.

Over a few short years, Saint Mary’s is well on the way to becoming “regionally dominant and nationally prominent” in the area of character education and virtue formation. Please enjoy the resources, stories, and programs on this website and share what is useful with others.

St. John Baptist de la Salle, pray for us!
Mary, Patroness of our university, pray for us!
Live Jesus in our hearts! Forever!

Mathew T. Gerlach, Ph.D.
Vice President
Office of Character and Virtue Ethics

Director and Endowed Chair
Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership

Core Associate Professor of Ethics and Leadership
School of Business and Technology


Meet the Vice President

Dr. Matthew Gerlach is the first vice president of the Office for Character, Virtue, and Ethics. Since 2001, Dr. Gerlach has taught in high school, university, and seminary settings in the fields of theology, philosophy, and interdisciplinary courses and programs. Inside and outside the classroom, whether in his teaching or in administration, his work has focused on the integral development of students in their intellectual, moral, spiritual, and professional dimensions. Dr. Gerlach has developed extensive higher educational leadership experience in creating, directing, contributing to, and overseeing academic departments and formation programs, including an innovative interdisciplinary studies program, global studies programs, distance education programs, and an honors program. He is married to Michelle (Gacioch) Gerlach and they have four amazing children. He enjoys hiking the bluffs of Winona, MN, which they now call home.

Mission of the Office for Character, Virtue, and Ethics

This office supports everyone at Saint Mary’s as we seek to be more intentional, planned, and organized in carrying out our mission to form ethical leaders, that is, leaders of good character who will seek to serve the good of others whether at home, at work, or in our religious and civic communities.

Over the next several years, we will be advancing innovative university-wide efforts to design, implement, assess, and enhance transformative character and virtue formation activities both inside and outside the classroom.

  • Author of The Priestly, Prophetic, and Royal Mission of the Laity, a book for a Catholic popular audience on the threefold mission of the baptized with an emphasis on their call to holiness in the world and their indispensable role in the New Evangelization (currently under draft).
  • Book reviewer of The University and the Church: Don J. Briel’s Essays on Education, edited and introduced by R. Jared Staudt, for Newman Studies Journal, to be published in its Winter 2022 issue.
  • Presenter of “Self-Gift in Formation for Ministry and Mission: Is Online Instruction Able to Deliver?” (Or “The Body, Self-Gift, and Online Education”), a paper given at the Seventh Annual Symposium on Advancing the New Evangelization, Benedictine College, Atchison, KS, March 24-25, 2018. 
  • Editor and co-author of the introduction with R. Jared Staudt, Catholic Studies and the Renewal of Catholic Higher Education: Essays in Honor of Don J. Briel, Bismarck, ND: University of Mary Press, 2017. 
  • Guest peer reviewer of The Political Science Reviewer: An Annual Review of Scholarship, Vol. 41, No. 2 (2017), a special symposium on the thought and works of Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), a British independent scholar with an innovative interdisciplinary approach to religion and culture.
  • Author of the dissertation, Lex Orandi, Lex Legendi: A Correlation of the Roman Canon and the Fourfold Sense of Scripture, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI (defended 2011)
  • “Countering Teleopathy in Catholic Universities: Toward a Theologically Modified Character and Virtue Education Framework,” AXIS: The Journal of Lasallian Higher Education Special Issue 2022.
  • “Virtuous Universities and Virtuous Citizens: The Role of Formation for the Good in the Academy and the Particular Impact on Diverse Ideas,” on ways of fostering the “virtue of tolerance of diversity of conscience” on college campuses, co-authored with Rev. James P. Burns and Marcy Van Fossen, AXIS: The Journal of Lasallian Higher Education Special Issue 2022.
  • Vice Vice President of the Office for Character, Virtue, and Ethics; Director and Endowed Chair of the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership (2021-present)
  • Dean of the Institute for Lay Ministry (2016-2021) & Director of Online Programs, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI (2016-2018) 
  • Administrative Chair of University-Wide Programs (January 2015-July 2016), Coordinator of Catholic Studies (2010-2014) & Rome Program Coordinator (2010-2011), School of Arts and Sciences, University of Mary, Bismarck, ND
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Religious Studies, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI (2011)
  • Master of Arts, Theology, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, St. Paul, MN (2002) 
  • Master of Arts, Character Education, University of Birmingham/Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues (in progress)
  • Bachelor of Arts, Catholic Studies and Philosophy, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN (1997)
  • Core Associate Professor of Ethics and Leadership, School of Business and Technology, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota (2021-present) 
  • Associate Professor of Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI (February 2017-present)
  • Assistant Professor, Theology, Philosophy, Catholic Studies, University of Mary, Bismarck, ND (2010-2016) 
  • Visiting Professor of Catholic Studies (2008-2009) & Adjunct Professor of Catholic Studies (2009-2010), Department of Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN 
  • Teaching Assistant, Robert L. Masson, Ph.D., Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI (fall 2005-spring 2007) 
  • Theology Instructor and Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, Holy Family Catholic High School, Victoria, MN (2001-2004) 
  • Coordinator and Instructor, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, Collaborative RCIA Program for St. Bridget’s, St. Austin’s and Our Lady of Victory parishes, Minneapolis, MN (2001-2004)