On Campus Blog

UMN science building to be renamed after Bruininks

You might remember this video from 2010, when the University of Minnesota president at the time, Bob Bruininks, made an appearance to plug the campus' $72.5 million Science Teaching and Student Services building.

The 115,000-square-foot facility replaced the demolished Science Classroom Building on the East Bank.

Now his name will be on it.

From the U:

In recognition of Robert H. Bruininks’ more than 45 years of service to the University of Minnesota, including nine as president, the Science Teaching and Student Services (STSS) building will be renamed Robert H. Bruininks Hall.

The University has a long and proud tradition of honoring past presidents by naming a building after them. The U’s Board of Regents approved the renaming of STSS — on the East Bank of the Twin Cities campus — at its Dec. 12 meeting. The STSS building was completed in Aug. 2010, during Bruininks’ presidency.

“As an educator, academic leader and president, Bruininks believed strongly in providing all qualified Minnesota students with a world-class education,” said Board of Regents Chair Richard Beeson. “His contributions, in myriad roles throughout his career, continue to have a lasting impact on the U. Therefore, it’s fitting to name a building that serves students in his honor.”

Arriving at the U of M in 1968 as an assistant professor of educational psychology, Bruininks began a rare path to leadership within one institution. He went on to hold positions as professor, department head, dean, executive vice president and provost. In 2002, Bruininks was appointed as the 15th president, serving in that role until 2011. Returning to the faculty thereafter, Bruininks continued work at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the College of Education and Human Development before retiring in September, 2013.

Bruininks’ administration emphasized the U's public mission and unique role as Minnesota's only comprehensive research, land-grant university. He also advanced a transformative strategic plan that raised the institution’s academic profile, its service to students and the community and its stewardship of resources. This was done despite two deep state budget cuts that occurred during his time in office. Key initiatives such as expanded undergraduate research, travel-abroad opportunities, a campus-wide Honors Program for the Twin Cities campus and expanded interdisciplinary academic investments helped to fuel high student satisfaction rates, increased applications and enrollment, significantly improved graduation rates and growth in external research and private support.

Student scholarships were the top private fundraising priority for Bruininks. The Promise for Tomorrow scholarship raised more than $340 million, even as the University garnered historic gifts to support its facilities and research mission. And an expansion of need-based aid, through the University of Minnesota Promise scholarship program, guaranteed financial assistance to all Minnesota students from low- and middle-income families.

A leading advocate for accountability and reform in higher education, Bruininks reorganized U of M Extension and the colleges of Design; Education and Human Development; and Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences to better serve the state, its citizens and students as well.

Bruininks led the way for the construction of TCF Bank Stadium, STSS building and research facilities in the Biomedical Discovery District as well as the proposal to reinvigorate and renovate the historic Northrop Auditorium. He served on numerous national boards, was named Minnesotan of the Year by Minnesota Monthly in 2004 and was selected Executive of the Year by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal in 2009.

“I have had the rare privilege of serving the University of Minnesota for more than four decades,” said Bruininks. “This stunning building has important meaning for me. It contains a highly innovative, interactive classroom teaching and learning culture, and critically important programs that support student development. And, its location on the high campus bluffs strengthens and celebrates the University’s historic connection to the Mississippi River. I am deeply humbled and honored by this very special recognition.”

Prior to becoming an administrator, Bruininks's academic career centered on child and adolescent development and policy research, and strategic improvement in the fields of pre-kindergarten to grade 12 and higher education. This work continued until his retirement and was recently recognized by a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).

A dedication ceremony will take place in early 2015. Details will be made available at a later date.

Robert H. Bruininks Hall highlights expansive views of the Mississippi River, and forms a gateway to the East Bank Campus at a landmark site. It is home to extensive technology-rich classrooms that serve about 20,000 students annually through hands-on and highly interactive learning environments, and through important student development programs, including the Center for Academic Planning and Exploration, Career Services Center, Office for Student Engagement, One Stop Student Services and University Veterans Services.