Two small liberal arts schools, one for men and one for women, will have a head from July.
Three years ago, the boards of Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota began discussions on a plan to streamline vision and leadership at the top. This exploration led to the idea that a single person should be responsible for both the men’s university and the women’s institution.
On Tuesday, the colleges formalized their historic announcement by appointing St. Norbert’s College President Brian Bruess as the first president of Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s in a move they dubbed the “Strong Integration” initiative. “. “The leadership capabilities and strategic direction that Brian brings will enable us to deliver on our vision of a strong integration, new and innovative governance model in higher education,” said LeeAnne Matthews Stewart, Board Chair of administration. “Brian already has a deep appreciation for our unique offerings as a college for women and a university for men. Building on each other’s distinctiveness while strengthening our partnership – that’s what Strong Integration is all about.
This strong strategy promises to retain the distinct identities of each institution (Saint John’s was founded in 1857 and Saint Ben’s in 1913) but moves forward boldly, developing new innovations while limiting the framework for leadership and decisions that will come in the future.
“I am deeply honored to be entrusted with this momentous and consequential opportunity,” Bruess said. “For almost 30 years I have studied and admired Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s. Both are nationally recognized for delivering a deeply impactful educational experience, for generating exceptional learning outcomes, and for producing motivated, action-oriented graduates who contribute to the betterment of society. I believe they can serve as a national model of cooperation, unity and high quality education.
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Bruess has spent the past five years leading Wisconsin’s small Catholic liberal arts school toward unprecedented increases in enrollment and endowment and increased diversity. Previously, he spent 17 years in various administrative roles at St. Catherine’s University for Women. Calling him the ideal candidate for the job, his boards will officially welcome him to the job on July 1.
“With his successful experiences in higher education, President Bruess is an exceptional and unique match with Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s and what we do for women and men,” said Co-Chair Bennett Morgan. “Our search committee could not be more excited to see how Brian and our team together unlock the potential of these two institutions in new and exciting ways while advancing our unique and distinct mission of education and development. women and men.”
They had already gotten off to a good start in terms of branding. The website shows well the cohesion and the possibilities of such a combination for others in higher education. With the schools being close and serving similar missions, it’s hardly a stretch to see the two twinned. The two also worked together on academic programming for decades. And yet, the separation is still clearly defined.
Of course, it will be Bruess’s job to manage the two as one entity in some respects, especially governance. He will officially take over the reins of two transition presidents, James Mullen at Saint John’s and Laurie Hamen at Saint Benedict’s.
“Given the mission – Benedictine, Catholic, liberal arts, residential and unapologetic about the holistic development and nurturing of principled women and men – this is a professional opportunity I couldn’t resist” , did he declare. “I look forward to getting to know and learn from all of the incredible people who make up these two distinguished communities.”