My academic passion

I entered teaching as a personal mission to mentor well-rounded professionals who can use design to influence and shape the world.

Background and expertise

I started teaching at Naz as an adjunct in 2008 and joined as full-time faculty in 2015. I came to teaching as a practicing creative professional with over 25 years of field experience — including digital interactive media, training, marketing, advertising, and creative leadership. My courses incorporate lots of lessons I've learned throughout my career.

My key interests include:

  • User experience design
  • Motion
  • Advertising
  • Design thinking

Courses I teach

I have created original curricula for numerous past and current courses, but my two favorites at the moment are Advanced Advertising Design and Web-Based Visual Design II (UX). Both of these courses heavily focus on the concept of designing for and with others. Here's the full list of current courses I teach:

  • Advertising Design I
  • Advanced Advertising Design
  • Senior Portfolio and Presentation
  • Web-Based Visual Design II (UX)

I also work closely with students during their 3-credit visual communication design Internships, which are required for the bachelor of fine arts program.

Why Naz?

Our small class sizes enable one-on-one attention that lets us get to know every student personally, which creates a rewarding mentor/mentee relationship.

Connecting with the professional community

Visual communication design students aren't just building their portfolios; they're preparing to be tomorrow's changemakers in their field by engaging with established professionals right now. I encourage my students to take part in local networking events sponsored by the local branch of the American Advertising Federation (AAF). Many seniors enter their work from my Senior Portfolio class in the AAF's annual ADDY Awards, often winning gold and silver awards — even at the national level — among tough competition. They're ready to step into the industry and lead the future.

Practical exercises

In Advanced Advertising Design, the class is divided into "ad agencies" that serve simulated clients for a series of four different projects during the semester as students rotate in and out of different groups. Each project ends with groups presenting a client pitch that includes their research, creative ideas, and solutions. The course culminates with a final project where students work with a real client, giving everyone an opportunity to test what they have learned.

Embrace constant change!

That's my top advice for students. Get comfortable with the demand to continuously upskill and reskill in a rapidly evolving, technology-driven landscape. Technical aptitude and good design sensibilities are just the point of entry into the profession. And while you're staying sharp, keep your soft skills honed, too. Like managing people, budgets, and projects.

A project for elders

Students appreciate my real-world examples, honest feedback, and coaching strategies for starting and navigating their careers. One of my current areas of interest is using interactive design and user experiences to support proper nutrition among the elderly. I am designing and prototyping “CookLookTM” a meal planning card deck that could be used with a smart device to order, deliver, and socially prepare meals for single seniors.

The product begins in the analog world with physical cards and leverages minimal user technical ability. (See packaging design.) Cards are divided into categories that align with the MyPlate nutrition guide published by the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Card decks could be purchased to support different nutritional needs and manage calories, vitamins, and other important information. This system would allow a user to assemble balanced meals of their choosing and uses the convenience of code scanning, online grocery shopping, and food delivery.

Meal preparation guides in multiple formats (text, audio, video) would support accessibility and a variety of user needs and preferences. Voice-activated user interface options would provide accessibility and may increase user adoption. This is a work in progress and ongoing research.

Stephen Wehner (front) and Shelly Kuzniarek (assistant professor, in green shirt) with Naz students

Stephen Wehner (front) and Shelly Kuzniarek (assistant professor, in green shirt) with Naz students on an art and design trip to New York City.

"Through lessons, projects, anecdotal experiences, and one-one conversations, Steve taught real-world skills and concepts that extended beyond the classroom. He always made sure to equip us with proper tools to succeed throughout our education and after graduation. He's a great professor, advisor, and resource to students."

- Marina Volpini '23, graphic designer at Golisano Institute for Business and Entrepreneurship

"Prof. Wehner is an excellent advisor who provides a support system for every student. His feedback was extremely valuable and contributed to some great portfolio pieces. I fell in love with packaging design, having taken his advertising design classes. He's a great asset to the visual communication design department and to all of his students."

- Zeba Ellikka '22 earned her bachelor's degree in visual communication design and went on for a master's degree in marketing at Nazareth

Fun Fact

When I was a little kid back in the 1970s, I won an Atari 2600 in a national Kellogg's "Stick Up for Breakfast" competition for my drawing of Tony the Tiger. It was the first year that this gaming system was released, so it was a really big deal to me. I was hooked on art and design!