TU’s Chief of Police Bernie Gerst plays major – even starring – roles in numerous campus events every year. Over the years, Chief Gerst’s active participation and dedication has been an inspiration to those around him. And it is energizing and reinforcing to see how his inspiration has spread from person to person, indicating an ever brightening future for the university.
Last April, when Chief Gerst walked “a mile in her shoes” – a pair of red high heels specifically – he gained new insight into the untenable situation women can be in when dressed to the nines, wearing heels. This exercise, sponsored by the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Committee, has male participants walk more than a mile in high heels, and allowed Chief Gerst to experience a different kind of vulnerability and need, which has prompted him to re-evaluate safety measures on campus.
Add to this Bernie Gerst’s annual participation in The Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games (SOMD), where he runs with other members of his department in the final leg of the initiating touch run. No stranger to pain, having undergone two knee surgeries, he understands the hardships faced in training and competition. But through SOMD, the chief has witnessed the unique pains and the incredible strengths of those athletes, persevering through their physical and mental handicaps.
At the heart of it, Chief Gerst believes “we should always try to do our best no matter what the task at hand is and no matter what the limitations are; try to improve, try to excel, and just try to participate and put forth your best effort.” His personal convictions have proved invaluable, not simply for Bernie Gerst, but the entire university. He leads by example, striving every day to improve himself as an individual, as a professional and as a Towson Tiger. “It’s true that we win because we are trying. We may face obstacles or stumble along the way, but we are in the race. That is what it’s all about,” he explains.
Indeed, it is.