In the Spotlight

News & Features
Your Voice
DocumentJoin the conversation with other MPR listeners in the News Forum.

DocumentE-mail this pageDocumentPrint this page
Bruininks installed as U president
Larger view
Robert Bruininks is installed as the 15th president of the University of Minnesota. (MPR Photo/Marisa Helms)
Robert Bruininks was formally installed Friday as the new president of the University of Minnesota. Bruininks, who has been at the U for 35 years, has been interim president since Mark Yudof left last summer. He was officially hired by the Board of Regents in November.

Minneapolis, Minn. — The inauguration began with a procession of about 600 people from the newly-remodeled Coffman Union to Northrop Auditorium.

Robert Bruininks was flanked on the stage by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, members of the U's Board of Regents, and other faculty members and students.

Larger view
Image Procession

The ceremony was replete with symbols of tradition. Pawlenty presented Bruininks a traditional mace, a symbol of authority at the university. The mace, which weighs nine pounds, was first used in 1961 for the inauguration of O. Meredith Wilson. It has an aluminum handle, and the "hammer" end has a four-inch crystal sphere with the North Star, the symbol of the state of Minnesota.

Gov. Pawlenty is a University of Minnesota graduate. Pawlenty has proposed $185 million in cuts to the U of M budget in the next biennium, to help erase a huge deficit. While he mentioned the state's tough economic times, the governor was upbeat in his introduction of Bruininks.

"The Univesity of Minnesota is the main engine that attracts talent here. It's the main engine that produces ideas in our state, and I'm very mindful of that," Pawlenty said. "I'm very glad (Bruininks) is the next president. He has my full confidence."

Larger view
Image Regents chair Maureen Reed presents the presidential medallion

Regents chair Maureen Reed then presented Bruininks another symbol of his office, the presidential medallion, which is hand-tooled and cast in sterling silver. Bruininks' name and inauguration date are engraved on it.

The new president spoke for about 20 minutes. He told the audience of about 3,000 the university will continue forward with its mission of excellence in education, research and public service.

He said even in times of fiscal austerity, the university must continue to invest in its programs, particularly in the biological and health sciences and information sciences.

Bruininks says the school will expand its applications of technology, to improve research connections between the community and all areas of the university. He calls it the "portal strategy."

We cannot live up to our democratic ideals without ensuring that talented people from every income level, every neighborhood, and every kind of background can find a place at the university.
- U of M President Robert Bruininks

"This strategy enables individuals and organizations to customize access to university resources from any location," Bruininks said "I believe we must make such connections more pervasive, more responsive and more available."

Bruninks also spoke of the importance of maintaining excellence, reinvigorating the academic community, and continuing a commitment to diversity and access.

"If education is the key to success and fulfillment in this society, as I believe it is, we cannot live up to our democratic ideals without ensuring that talented people from every income level, every neighborhood, and every kind of background can find a place at the university," said Bruininks.

Student Brian Mechell, a junior political science major, likes Bruininks whom he met last fall. Mechell says the new president is approachable.

"In my opinion he seems to be more aligned to the goals of the students. I learned a lot about his goals of making tradition the emphasis as his presidency unfolds," Mechell said.

At a reception after the ceremony in Coffman Union, stickers were handed out that read, "I saw Bob."

Larger view
Image Bruininks plays the Rouser

Many not only saw Bob, they heard him play the Minnesota Rouser, the school's fight song, on his trumpet.

Bruininks enjoys popularity among faculty members, since he's been a professor and administrator at the U for 35 years. Many who teach there, like professor Jan Hogan, know him personally.

"I think he stands for integrity and working across departments. To me he's really the right person," said Hogan.

The ceremony was the final event in a week full of activities celebrating Bruininks' inauguration.

Respond to this story
News Headlines
Related Subjects