Bruininks to take leave for recovery

Big Ten university presidents have taken leaves of absence for a variety of reasons.

Taryn Wobbema

University of Minnesota President Bob BruininksâÄô prostate surgery went off without complication Monday, and he is taking a few weeks off from his duties while he recovers. While he is gone, BruininksâÄô responsibilities will be handled by Provost Tom Sullivan or Chief of Staff Kathryn Brown. âÄúI have every confidence that the University will not miss a beat during this brief period, and I expect to resume my regular work schedule after a few weeks of recuperation,âÄù Bruininks said in a Jan. 19 statement. History shows university presidents have taken leaves of absence for a variety of reasons. Across the Big Ten, grounds for time off ranged from illness to governmental appointment to different jobs. Time off varied from months to years. In any case, when the president is gone, someone has to step in. Lotus Coffman âÄî University of Minnesota, 1920-1938 Dates absent: 1931; 1937-38 Lotus Coffman took leave twice during his time as president at the University. In 1931 he was invited to travel to New Zealand, Australia and the Philippines to consult on higher education. After suffering a heart attack in 1937, he took an academic year off to rest in Arizona. Guy Stanton Ford, then-dean of the Graduate School, stood in during both of CoffmanâÄôs absences. Coffman returned from Arizona for the 1938-39 school year but died unexpectedly before classes began. Ford assumed the role of president until 1941. C. Peter Magrath âÄî University of Minnesota, 1974-1984 Dates absent: Summer 1982 Eight years into his presidency, Peter Magrath requested a summerlong sabbatical so he could âÄústudy public policy issues in higher education,âÄù according to a history of the University written by a University historian and a history professor. Kenneth Keller stood in for Magrath during his absence. Keller acted as interim president again when Magrath resigned in 1984 to accept a position as University ofMissouri president. Myles Brand âÄî Indiana University, 1994-2002 Dates absent: 2002 Myles Brand became the president of the NCAA in 2002, requiring Indiana University to appoint an interim president until a permanent replacement could be found. Gerald Bepko was unanimously selected for the interim position in November 2002. He served until Adam Herbert took office in 2003, Indiana spokeswoman SusanWilliams said. Bepko had been the chancellor of one of the universityâÄôscoordinate campuses. James B. Angell âÄî University of Michigan, 1871-1909 Dates absent: 1880-82; 1897-98 James B. Angell was the University of MichiganâÄôs longest-serving president. He took two extended leaves of absence during his 38 years. According to University of Michigan spokeswoman Dana Budzaj, U.S. President Rutherford Hayes appointed Angell as U.S. minister to China from June 1880 to February 1882. From July 1897 to August 1898, President William McKinley appointed him as U.S. minister to the Ottoman Empire. Peter McPherson âÄî Michigan State University, 1993-2004 Dates absent: 2003 Peter McPherson served four months in Iraq in 2003 as financial coordinator for the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. Then-Provost Lou Anna Simon, the current Michigan State president, was appointed interim president during McPhersonâÄôs absence, spokesman Tom Oswald said. *Mike Mullen contributed to this report. Taryn Wobbema is a senior staff reporter.