U inaugurates Bruininks as 15th president

Kari Petrie

Eight months after becoming the University’s top official, Robert Bruininks will be officially recognized as president in a two-hour ceremony this afternoon.

Bruininks will be inaugurated as the University’s 15th president starting at 1 p.m. in Northrop Auditorium.

The Board of Regents named Bruininks president Nov. 8 after a five-month, nationwide presidential search. Former University President Mark Yudof resigned in May to become chancellor of the University of Texas System.

“Bob just has every single quality you could hope for, wish for, expect from a president,” Regent Frank Berman said when Bruininks was appointed. “I just think this is going to be a stellar administration with stellar leadership, and I couldn’t be more thrilled or enthusiastic about it.”

The inauguration ceremony concludes a week of events celebrating both Bruininks’ appointment and Founders Week – an event celebrating the University’s 152nd anniversary.

Mary Jo Kane, Presidential Inauguration Committee co-chairwoman, said the events coincide to save money.

“The planning committee has been very aware of the financial crisis of the University,” Kane said. “That’s why we have planned a very modest inauguration.”

Planning committee officials are budget-conscious because of state funding cuts, according to an inauguration press release.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty cut $25 million in funding to the University for the 2002-03 school year and proposed reducing $185 million more in University funding over the next two years.

The University spent approximately $100,000 on the inauguration, nearly $85,000 less than Yudof’s 1997 inauguration.

Kane stressed that none of the funds came from state or tuition dollars. The inauguration is financed by private sponsors and interest earned from University investments.

Kane said Bruininks and his wife, Susan Hagstrum, decided not to have an inaugural ball to save funds. Private receptions and a formal dinner also will not be held, Kane said.

The University of Iowa is making even more sacrifices with David Skorton’s presidential inauguration.

Iowa spokeswoman Linda Kettner said the inauguration will consist of a ceremony and reception. Although official costs were unknown, Kettner said the university would spend approximately $10,000.

“In these austere times, we are trying to be budget-conscious,” she said.

The University of Michigan inaugurated President Mary Sue Coleman in August 2002. The school held a one-day event costing between $100,000 and $150,000 for a ceremony, reception and food, spokeswoman Nancy Connell said. Michigan used non-general funds to cover its costs, Connell added.

Bruininks’ tenure

Before being named interim president in June 2002, Bruininks served as University executive vice president and provost – a position he held since July 1997. He was responsible for mapping out the University’s academic mission and overseeing several offices, including Admissions and Multicultural Affairs.

In November 2001, Bruininks announced he would resign as provost to go back to teaching in the College of Education and Human Development, where he spent six years as dean. Bruininks started his University career in 1968 as an assistant professor of education psychology. He also served nine years in administration and seven years as department chairman.

Bruininks earned his bachelor’s degree in special education from Western Michigan University in 1964 and received his master’s and doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University.