Q&A with Brian Bruess

Q&A with Brian Bruess

By Julie Michener; photo by Rebecca Zenefski '10

From Wildcat games to the midnight breakfast before finals, this executive vice president and chief operating officer is a fixture at campus events. Here, he talks about future plans and social media.

What drew you to St. Kate’s?

I joined St. Kate’s in fall 1995, and I was attracted to the mission — Catholic, Women and Liberal Arts.

What are some of our immediate goals as a University?

Under Sister Andrea’s leadership, we’re pursuing a bold, innovative and dynamic strategic plan that revolves around our mission and vision. Enhancing the student experience is one key element. Some initiatives include
new and revitalized academic programs, an investment in faculty development, careful and cost-effective facility improvements, and enriching co-curricular opportunities such as collaborative research, assistantships and mentorship.

How are we doing on enrollment?

This fall, some sectors of our enrollment profile will push historic records and other areas will press to reach projections. While it’s too early to tell, we expect enrollment to land at our projection of just over 5,000 students.

What’s competition like today?

We’re facing many challenges, and the marketplace remains volatile. Our best strategies to ensure healthy enrollments have focused on making steady improvements in existing programs and developing new programs that meet market needs. We have also found effective ways to partner with businesses, nonprofits and the medical community. The University’s overall strategic plan calls for 20 percent growth by FY18 and 28 percent by FY21.

Is social media part of your daily life?

Yes! Although, to be blunt, I’m generationally stuck between digital natives (my kids) and digital luddites (my parents’ generation; sorry, mom and dad). So I sort of stumble along awkwardly with social media. My overarching problem is that when I figure out one medium, it goes away or changes. Currently I’m on Twitter @bjbruess (follow me), Facebook (casual user), Snapchat (to keep connected with my daughter and her younger cousins), Vine (because my son finds funny stuff on it) and Instagram (to share family travel experiences). My kids would laugh at this statement, but “I’m excellent at texting.” I especially love using emoji.

Does social media fit into our recruitment strategy?

Social media is becoming increasingly important for St. Kate’s, and so we continue to find innovative ways to use it. However, using social media effectively requires a precise alignment of strategy, social network and audience. Finding this sweet spot is challenging because we have such different prospective audiences. What works with one generation may not work with another. Our goal is to ensure we are intentional and compelling in our efforts.

So, your wife works at St. Thomas, you work at St. Kate’s. How do we know you’re not selling Katie secrets to her employer?

People have been confused about that for years! “Why is Carol at the old men’s college and Brian at the largest baccalaureate college for women in America?” Good question. I’m not sure why, but I do know I got the better deal.

One great gift of the robust Twin Cities higher education community is that we collaborate on a regular basis. Take our nationally recognized joint (St. Kate’s–St. Thomas) School of Social Work, for example; what a great pairing of values and faculty for students. And, nope, I’m not selling our innovative ideas to anyone.

See him in action: scan galleries

Brian loves emoji; use it when you tweet him @bjbruess

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