St. Norbert College names next president

Jessica Thiel
Posted by of Insight Publications

For only the second time in history, St. Norbert College has tapped one of its graduates to take over as president. Brian Bruess, a 1990 graduate of the college, has been named its eighth president.

Effective July 1, Bruess (rhymes with “peace”) will succeed Thomas Kunkel, who has led the college for the past nine years.

“It’s gratifying to know the college – with a vibrant community at the center – is so healthy and has seen much recent success, yet remains eager to discover an even brighter future,” says Bruess in a news release. “It’s a most significant distinction to follow President Tom Kunkel, a person I respect so deeply. The entire St. Norbert community is indebted to Tom for the extraordinary leadership he’s shown the college.”

Bruess was introduced to the college and local community at an event held today in Old St. Joseph Church on the St. Norbert College campus.

“As chair of the search committee, it was a pleasure to work with 21 people representing diverse members of the St. Norbert community,” says Jay Williams, board member and president and CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum. “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.”

Bruess has worked in various leadership roles in his 21-year tenure at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., where he serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer. During his career at St. Catherine’s, Bruess has overseen multiple areas including enrollment management, student affairs, information technology, athletics, finance and administration.

Bruess built a reputation for a collaborative and innovative approach to planning and leadership. He was the principal architect of efforts resulting in 15 consecutive years of record student enrollment and is focused on student learning, leading to strong student retention and increased diversity. The newly named president has been instrumental in attaining and sustaining St. Catherine’s financial strength, according to the news release.

Bruess received a bachelor of arts degrees in sociology and psychology at St. Norbert College and both a master’s and a doctoral degree from Ohio University, Athens.