Get to Know Saul Lerner

November 20, 2019
saul lerner


We are saddened to share that after 55 years at Purdue University Northwest, Professor of History Saul Lerner passed away in February 2022.

See Our Tribute to Professor Lerner

Original Post

Dr. Saul Lerner has been a faculty member for us since 1967. For those familiar with the Department of History & Philosophy, they surely know of Dr. Lerner and the role he has played in the department’s creation and evolution throughout the years.


Dr. Lerner was born and raised in Youngstown, OH, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Youngstown State University. He majored in history, studying American History, English History, and European History, while also minoring in several other disciplines including psychology, sociology, and German. The next stop in his academic journey took him to the University of Kansas where he began work on his Master’s Degree. Aided by nearly 800 archival volumes found in the university’s library, Dr. Lerner’s MA studies focused on a statistical and demographic analysis of Pennsylvania politics during the American Revolution. Dr. Lerner also worked in the university’s archives, transcribing a collection of 19th century German letters and writings from Old German to Modern German and then translating them to English.

Following completion of the Master’s Degree, Dr. Lerner stayed at the University of Kansas and began work on his PhD. His dissertation examined concepts of history, progress, and perfectibility in 19th century American Transcendentalist thought. This topic included consideration of the parallelism between European intellectuals and American romantics.

Toward the end of his PhD program, Dr. Lerner began a teaching assistantship at the University of Kansas and taught in an honors section of the university’s Western Civilization program. The world of academia was a good fit for Dr. Lerner and he continued his work in education by teaching at a liberal arts college in upstate New York. He was at this institution for four years when he decided he wanted to work at an urban college near a large city. Dr. Lerner fielded several offers from various universities but was steadfast in finding an institution that met with his personal goals. Purdue Northwest, then known as Purdue University Calumet, offered him a position in an environment that intrigued him and in the fall of 1967, Dr. Lerner joined the faculty.

Knowledge about the content of the courses. Secondly, an appreciation of understanding something about the history of the particular area that they’re dealing with, and, third, an awareness of the importance of learning as a process.

Teaching Experience

Lerner’s tenure with Purdue Northwest has seen him teach a wide variety of topics with classes about European history, American history, the Holocaust, social history, religion in America, the roaring 20s, the Depression, and various survey courses. When asked what he wants students to take away from his classes, Dr. Lerner said, “Knowledge about the content of the courses. Secondly, an appreciation of understanding something about the history of the particular area that they’re dealing with, and, third, an awareness of the importance of learning as a process.” His classes frequently push students to look beyond what they’re reading and to apply the lessons learned into their everyday lives. From the works of John Stuart Mill to Sir Thomas More, the content that Dr. Lerner assigns may have applications beyond the classroom.

Dr. Lerner has written a large number of book reviews and articles. He has also served in various administrative roles, from Department Head to Dean of the Graduate School and Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to director of the Honors Program, to Affirmative Action Officer. In his free time, he is an avid reader. Dr. Lerner has seen the campus of Purdue Northwest grow over the years and has watched as the student body has changed. He always encourages students to think about their next step following graduation. Dr. Lerner is not shy when it comes to giving advice on the importance of resumes and references, and he distributes the Career Center’s materials that further assists students in finding jobs. Having been with Purdue Northwest for more than 50 years, Dr. Lerner has played a role in the lives of many students and faculty. All of us here in the Department of History & Philosophy have had the experience of knowing and learning from Dr. Saul Lerner.