The Mankato Free Press
---- — MANKATO — After serving for 11 years as president of Bethany Lutheran College, Dan Bruss will retire in June 2015.
Bruss, 60, said he's been most proud to watch the college's growth in academic offerings in the past decade.
"For us, going from a two-year school to a baccalaureate-granting program was great. We have a solid foundation now and that's the biggest thing that's happened in the past 10 years."
Prior to 2000, Bethany offered exclusively the associate in arts degree and upon Bruss’ arrival only a handful of baccalaureate programs were available. Today there are 19 programs serving nearly 600 students.
"The students are doing what we'd hoped they do — going on to graduate school and getting jobs. That's really exciting to see," Bruss said.
Bruss grew up in southeast Wisconsin. Prior to Bethany, he was on the chemistry faculty at Central College in Pella, Iowa.
In addition to academic expansion, a wide variety of programs and infrastructure were built during Bruss' tenure, including the construction of a 16-unit apartment complex for junior/senior housing, the move from junior college athletics to NCAA Division III, internship and job-placement services, and study abroad initiatives.
Under Bruss, Bethany completed the Faithful Future $28 million capital campaign exceeding the goal by more than $2 million. Proceeds from the campaign were used, in part, to build a 67,000-square-foot multidisciplinary academic building and add more than $5 million to the endowment in support of student scholarships.
"That new academic space has served us well. We purposely built that to expand our student population. That will hold us for a while," he said.
Bruss said communications, education and business are the biggest programs on campus.
"The next pressure point for us is to provide some more space for co-curricular activities. Our sports and fitness center is booked solid form 6 in the morning to 10 at night."
Bruss said he isn't sure of his plans in retirement.
"I told the campus they're still stuck with me for a year-and-a-half. When it gets closer, we'll worry about that. I've always liked Mankato, though."
During his tenure, Bruss has served on a variety of boards, most recently on the board of Greater Mankato Growth, Southern Minnesota Advocates, and the Minnesota Private College Council, which he currently chairs.
Bethany Board Chairman Rev. Herbert Huhnerkoch said in a statement:
“It has been a distinct pleasure to serve on the Board of Regents during most of the tenure of President Dan Bruss. Though many of us have a deep love and commitment for Bethany Lutheran College and its mission, there is no one with a deeper and more tireless love and commitment than President Bruss. We hate to see him go. Nonetheless, we offer him our heartfelt prayers and sincere desire that God grant him and his dear wife Kathy a blessed retirement.”