A historic moment in the history of both the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University will take place on September 22 with the official inauguration of Brian J. Bruess, Ph.D., as the first joint president of both schools. Bruess was named to the position in March 2022 and took over the job on July 1st of that year. Prior to that, he had served since 2017 as president of St.
Norbert College, a nationally renowned Catholic liberal arts school with more than 2,000 students in De Pere, Wisconsin. He previously spent 21 years in a variety of roles at St. Catherine University, a Catholic liberal arts women’s institution in St. Paul, Minnesota. That included more than three years as the school’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. His appointment marked an important step in the implementation of Strong Integration – a new governance and leadership structure for the two schools.
It’s a process that began with discussions initiated by the CSB and SJU Boards of Trustees in the fall of 2018. The idea was to put in place a governance structure designed to produce bolder strategies, greater innovation and nimbler decision-making. CSB and SJU have operated under two governance boards made up of one set of common members since mid-January of 2022, when the Strong Integration resolutions took effect.
A proclamation ceremony was held the following May. Since his arrival, Bruess has effectively led implementation of an innovative ecosystem-wide change process. During his first year, he helped implement a new governance model for the CSB and SJU Boards of Trustees; built the inaugural joint leadership team; redesigned the organizational structure around student learning; implemented academic program prioritization recommendations; launched a fast-paced strategic planning process; rebuilt the admission and enrollment processes; and completed an ambitious alumnae/i tour across the U.S.
and The Bahamas to hear and learn from graduates and friends of both schools. His inauguration now marks another key milestone in bonding the two already connected schools even more closely together. “I see the inauguration of Brian as the ultimate celebration of what we have worked to achieve since the concept of Strong Integration was first hatched,” said LeAnne Stewart ’87, the chair of the CSB and SJU Boards of Trustees.
“Recruiting a president who could lead our institutions forward, together, was a critical milestone. The inauguration is a community-focused celebration of Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s and all that we can achieve together.” The Inauguration Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. on September 22 at Saint Benedict’s Monastery’s Sacred Heart Chapel and the Inauguration Ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m.
in the Abbey and University Church at SJU. The events will mark the centerpiece of a week-long inauguration celebration on both campuses that begins with campus clean-up events at CSB on the morning of September 18 and SJU that afternoon, as well as the launch of a Medallion Hunt Challenge. The week will end September 24 with an afternoon fishing tournament and fish fry on the shore of Lake Sagatagan on the SJU campus, followed by Mass on the Grass at the Abbey and University Church Plaza at SJU at 6 p.m. Students, parents, guardians, siblings, family members, faculty, staff, alumnae/i, friends and honored guests are all invited and encouraged to take part in inauguration activities. More information on all the events can be found at csbsju.edu/inauguration.