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President-elect Brian Bruess ’90 at the announcement of his appointment in Old St. Joe's.

Alumnus Will Be Eighth President

The eighth president of St. Norbert College is to be one of the college’s own. Brian Bruess ’90 will succeed President Tom Kunkel, effective July 1. Kunkel’s legacy will be his remarkable leadership of the college for the past nine years. 

Bruess has served in several leadership roles in his 21-year tenure at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn. He is currently executive vice president and chief operating officer at the premier baccalaureate college for women.

Of St. Norbert, he says: “It’s a tremendous privilege to be invited to lead and serve the very institution that’s had the most profound effect on not only Carol and me, but on our entire family – the only institution in the world built on the powerful, tripartite mission of Norbertine, Catholic and liberal arts. Carol and I are beyond delighted and humbled to be coming home to the community we admire and love most dearly.”

Bruess was introduced to the college and local community when his appointment was announced Dec. 12 in Old St. Joe’s. “As a community, we look forward to working with Brian in sharing and growing the Norbertine tradition and values at St. Norbert College,” says Abbot Gary Neville, O.Praem., ’73.

During Bruess’ career at St. Kate’s, he has been responsible for areas that include enrollment management, student affairs, information technology, athletics, finance and administration. He has built a reputation for a collaborative and innovative approach to planning and leadership; was the principal architect of efforts resulting in 15 consecutive years of record student enrollment; has an unrelenting focus on student learning, which resulted in strong student retention and increased diversity; and has been instrumental in attaining and sustaining St. Kate’s financial strength. Prior to his time at St. Kate’s, Bruess served in a variety of leadership roles at Ohio University.

Returning now to his alma mater, Bruess says: “I’m in awe of the remarkable success St. Norbert College has realized in recent years. The entire St. Norbert community, including President Kunkel, should take great pride in the health and vibrancy of the entire institution – from its stellar faculty and staff to its beautiful, state-of-the-art facilities and, most importantly, to the transformational educational experiences offered all students as part of the St. Norbert family. As we look to the future, we must remain confident that now, more than ever, the world needs our mission and our graduates. To exceed the expectations and meet the needs of the community, region and the world, our collective focus – that of every faculty, staff, and board of trustee member – must be on amplifying the magnificent momentum already begun while simultaneously discovering new and innovative ways for this great institution to thrive. Together, and by staying true to our mission, we can accomplish great things!” 

Jay Williams ’73, who chaired the presidential search committee, concludes, "it was a pleasure to work with 21 people representing diverse members of the St. Norbert community.” Williams, past chair of the college’s board of trustees, adds, “The list of potential candidates was long and included several sitting presidents. Through this process, Dr. Bruess reflected the skill, the passion, the vision and, most important, the values, to be the right leader to continue the success of President Kunkel.”


March 17, 2017