University News

From band camp to the boardroom

February 14, 2024

Written by Chris Lindeke | Photo submitted

Steve Flunker.

Steve Flunker’s first experience on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus – as a middle school student at the university’s summer band camp – was the hook that brought him to campus as he was deciding where to attend college.

With acceptances to a handful of Big Ten schools in hand, Flunker, a native of Germantown, chose UW-Whitewater. He was drawn to the university’s size, which he described as “mid-size.”

“The seed was planted very early on,” said Flunker, who works as vice president for transportation at Cornerstone Brands. “It wasn’t as intimidating as some other universities were. It was a nice environment where it was big enough to have all the programs you needed, but small enough to have all the direct interactions with professors and the ability to get into clubs, sports, and everything else.”

A 1993 College of Business and Economics graduate, Flunker described his major – management computer systems (MCS) – as “straddling the fence” between information technology and business.

“I’m one of those guys where I started tinkering around with a TI-99 and a Commodore 64 when I was in middle school and early high school,” Flunker said. “I like computers and I like what they could bring to business. It was my passion, but I was also very curious about business, and UW-Whitewater had such a strong business school. It made all the sense in the world.”

Flunker was involved on campus in UW-Whitewater’s Sigma Iota Epsilon chapter, an honorary management fraternity. He also credited his experience as a freshman living in Clem Hall, where he built tight-knit relationships and established lifelong friendships.

New doors opened for Flunker when he was accepted into the business school. He was exposed to internship opportunities and a holistic approach to learning business, crediting MCS faculty Bob Horton, George Sargent and David Munro for their guidance.

“It was a very nice continuum of being welcomed in – how do we help, how do we get you engaged socially with other students and faculty, and how can we best prepare you with all the tool sets you need to be successful going forward,” Flunker said.

He continues his engagement with the university to this day. A self-described “humongous” fan of Warhawk football, Flunker remained in contact with the school’s University Relations team despite traveling the country and holding professional roles in Oregon, Texas and Ohio. One of the architects on the construction of Hyland Hall, which was completed in 2009, was Flunker’s Best Man at his wedding.

Now settled in Barrington, Illinois, just over 60 miles from the UW-Whitewater campus, Flunker joined the college’s Dean’s Advisory Board, where he hopes to help spread the word about the state’s largest business school to employers, prospective students, and his fellow alumni.

“It’s about advancing the curriculum to set students up for success,” Flunker said. “Then, it’s forward engaging the right employers – not just regionally, but nationally – to look at us as a huge resource for top talent and really set our students up for success.”