Robert H. Bruininks

Robert H. Bruininks, a professor and president emeritus of the University of Minnesota, joined the board of trustees of the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation in 2013.

An Advocate for Accountability and Reform

Bruininks served as the 15th president of the University of Minnesota from 2002 to 2011. Highlights from his administration demonstrate that Bruininks is a leading advocate for accountability and reform in higher education:

A strategic positioning effort enhanced the University’s academic profile, its service to students and the community, and its stewardship of resources. Advances in academic quality and improvements in the student experience, such as expanded opportunities for undergraduate research and study abroad and a campuswide Honors Program for the Twin Cities campus, boosted student-satisfaction rates, increased applications and enrollment, and improved graduation rates.

Actions addressed affordability for students on the University’s five campuses. Bruininks made student scholarships the University’s top private fundraising priority. The Promise for Tomorrow scholarship raised more than $340 million, and Bruininks expanded the University’s need-based aid strategy to include guaranteed aid for all Minnesota students from low- and middle-income families.

Strategic reorganizations of University of Minnesota Extension and the colleges of Design, Education and Human Development, and Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences enabled the University to better serve the state, its citizens and students.

Ties with Minnesota business and industry strengthened with Bruininks serving on the Itasca Project and the Minnesota Business Partnership.

During his presidency, Bruininks also served on the NCAA Division I board of directors; served as chair of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and was a presidential appointment to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. He was named Executive of the Year by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal in 2009 and Minnesotan of the Year by Minnesota Monthly in 2004.

Focused on Transformative Public and Civic Leadership

Bruininks returned to the faculty in 2011 as the Elmer L. Andersen President Emeritus Chair in Civic Leadership in the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Emma M. Birkmaier professor in Educational Leadership in the College of Education and Human Development. His work focused on transformative public and civic leadership, the development of human capital from early childhood through post-secondary education, and higher education policy issues. For six months in 2012, Bruininks also served as interim president of the Bush Foundation, the fourth-largest private foundation in Minnesota and a strong source of philanthropic funding in South Dakota and North Dakota. He retired in 2013.

Bruininks served the University for more than 40 years. He moved into administration in the 1990s, advancing from dean of the College of Education and Human Development to executive vice president and provost for the Twin Cities campus, and then to president.

Improving Life for the Developmentally Disabled

Earlier in his career, Bruininks was a professor in the College of Education and Human Development. His academic career centered on child and adolescent development and policy research plus strategic improvement in the fields of prekindergarten to grade 12 and higher education. His work on behalf of people with developmental disabilities has improved understanding, assessment, treatment, and care for countless individuals and their families in Minnesota, nationally and internationally.

Bruininks earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University and his Master of Arts and doctor of philosophy degrees from George Peabody College, now Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. He received distinguished achievement awards from both Western Michigan University and Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.

Bruininks is married to Susan A. Hagstrum. They reside in Minneapolis and have three adult children.