Steve Hauser continues his run as one of the longest serving instructors in the University of Minnesota Construction Management program

Steve Hauser has been teaching courses in the Construction Management (CMGT) program for 20 years—almost exactly as long as he has been a project manager for Target Corp., from which he recently retired. “I taught my first class at the U on a Thursday night and my first day at Target was the following Monday,” says Hauser, explaining how the two roles intersected. “So the University job is the longest job I’ve ever had and Target is the second longest.”

Hauser earned a BS in construction engineering from Iowa State and got his start in project management with Mortenson Construction, where he was working while earning an MBA from the U’s Carlson School of Management, which he completed in 1989. A few years later, he went to work for an architectural engineering firm doing construction administration for about eight years. He followed that with a stressful stint at a specialty subcontractor where, he says, “I could literally see myself aging in the mirror.” When 9/11 happened and the economy slowed, he was laid off, much to his relief, and took some time to consider what his next move would be.

"I’m here to tell you, you can do anything. The sky’s the limit in construction."

“While I pursued my next day job, I remembered how I’d often talk to this particular friend about his job teaching in the construction program at the U because I was always kind of interested in it,” Hauser recalls. “So I called him up and said, 'Who’s your boss?' And he connected me with Ann Johnson (the program faculty director at the time). We hit it off really well but she didn’t have anything for me and asked me to stay in touch.”

A few weeks later, while Hauser was deep into interviewing for a project management position with Target, Johnson invited him to replace a retiring instructor. Hauser says he was initially hesitant because he wasn’t sure how a side job as an instructor would affect his chances with Target. After a few days, though, he decided to accept and believes that decision may have convinced the company to make him an offer. “Many years later I learned from a guy who was the vice president for much of the time I was at Target that taking the teaching position helped me because people thought if I was good enough to teach, I must know my stuff about construction,” says Hauser.

Stephen Hauser leans against a statue of goldy, both wearing  U of M maroon and gold


As a project manager for Target since 2003, Hauser was responsible for managing the construction of new stores or the remodeling of existing stores around the country, traveling from Minnesota to the East Coast, Florida, Texas, California, and Hawaii to oversee the projects. “Other than the first 15 months of COVID, all our project managers would simply get on an airplane and fly to our project. I probably used to take 15, 16, 17 trips a year, which worked out to about every three weeks,” he said.

After celebrating his retirement in May, Hauser was eager to get back into the classroom, where he’s teaching Introduction to Construction and Construction Documents and Contracts. “Here’s the interesting thing,” he said about the value of the skills and education taught in the CMGT program and the potential for an evolving and fulfilling career in the construction industry. “In the very first class I taught, there was a young lady who was an intern at Target. She ended up getting an offer when she graduated and worked her way up the ladder. And on the day I left Target she was the vice president of construction and she was my boss’s boss’s boss, three levels above me.”

Asked what he’ll have to say when he’s face-to-face with a new crop of future CMGT leaders, he responds, “I’m here to tell you, you can do anything. The sky’s the limit in construction.”