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(Saint Paul, MN – March 1, 2012) – The Bush Foundation Board of Directors today announced the appointment of Robert H. Bruininks, Ph.D., to act as the Foundation’s interim president, effective March 1, 2012.  Former president Peter C. Hutchinson stepped down in January.  

Robert H. Bruininks, Ph.D.“The Board is thrilled that Dr. Bruininks has agreed to step into this interim role,” said Jan K. Malcolm, chair of the Board.  “His experience and thought leadership will ensure that progress on the Foundation’s important work continues unabated as we undertake a search for the Foundation’s next president.”  The Board has engaged the national search firm Phillips Oppenheim ( to lead the search process and is focused on identifying candidates to fill the presidency.

Bruininks is president emeritus of the University of Minnesota and a professor of educational and civic leadership at the University’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  Both as a faculty member and as an administrator, Bruininks has worked to advance the public mission and responsibilities of the University.  He undertook a transformative strategic positioning effort that raised the University’s academic profile, its service to students and the community, and its stewardship of resources.  “Dr. Bruininks is a leading advocate for accountability and reform in higher education, and a strong voice for collaboration between the public and private sectors,” said Malcolm.

“I have long been impressed with the Bush Foundation’s bold and innovative approach to philanthropy,” said Bruininks. “The Foundation continues to be a significant catalytic organization across the area it serves, and its work is making a real impact on improving the quality of life in our region. I am honored to serve as interim president.”

The Bush Foundation is currently the fourth-largest private foundation in Minnesota and is a strong source of philanthropic funding in South Dakota and North Dakota.  It invested more than $30 million in 2011 in initiatives aimed toward achieving its long-term goals.

“As a Board, we are using the opportunity of this leadership change to examine the important role the Foundation plays in the region,” said Malcolm.  “We strive to be a learning organization and to take into consideration all the feedback and performance data we have received over the past few years.” Malcolm added that the Board remains strongly committed to the Foundation’s goals and to maintaining its role as a catalyst for change.

As the Foundation begins working with Phillips Oppenheim on the search process, it will be seeking candidates who have a proven track record of leading transformative change through strategic leadership and collaboration. “We are excited about working with Phillips Oppenheim, which brings an innovative approach to finding top-notch leaders for nonprofit organizations and foundations,” said Irving Weiser, Board member and chair of the search committee. “Our goal is to identify an experienced leader who can take our strategy to the next level as we focus on advancing solutions to the difficult problems our communities are facing.”

Details about the search process and timeline will be available at as they evolve.


About the Bush Foundation

Our mission is to be a catalyst for the courageous leadership necessary to create sustainable solutions to tough public problems and ensure community vitality. The Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, and today works in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area.

The Foundation’s three long-term goals are:

  • To help communities develop their capacity to solve their own problems through a combination of leadership development and by providing research, data, tools and opportunities to connect with others to create innovative and sustainable solutions.
  • To dramatically improve educational achievement by assuring the effectiveness of the next 25,000 teachers who will enter our classrooms by changing how they are recruited, prepared, placed and supported.
  • To improve the conditions of the people of Native nations by working with their elected leaders to improve their institutions of self-governance based on sovereignty and self-determination.

The Bush Foundation is taking an innovative approach to philanthropy in its strategies toward achieving these goals. Rather than making grants across a broad spectrum of issues and organizations, it is focusing its attention on finding solutions to specific tough public problems and on building the capacity of communities to solve their own problems. Learn more at

About Robert H. Bruininks

Robert H. Bruininks, Ph.D., is president emeritus of the University of Minnesota and a professor of educational and civic leadership at the University’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. During his tenure as president from 2002-2011, he and his leadership team raised the University’s academic profile, its service to students and the community, and its stewardship of resources.  Advances in academic quality and improvements in the student experience—such as expanded undergraduate research and study abroad opportunities, and a campus-wide Honors Program for the Twin Cities campus—helped to fuel high student satisfaction rates, increased applications and enrollment, and significantly improved graduation rates.

Bruininks joined the University of Minnesota in 1968 as a professor of educational psychology. He served as chair of the Department of Psychoeducational Studies/Department of Educational Psychology from 1978-1985, dean of the College of Education and Human Development from 1991-1997, and executive vice president and provost from 1997-2002.

From 2004-2009, Bruininks served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and as board chair from 2008-2009. He served as a member of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board from 2003-2009.  Bruininks is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Society and American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Bruininks holds a bachelor of science degree from Western Michigan University in education and social sciences, and masters of arts and Ph.D. degrees from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in educational psychology.

About Phillips Oppenheim

Founded in 1991, Phillips Oppenheim is committed to the idea that nonprofits deserve access to the best leaders from the business, public, and nonprofit sectors. The firm provides excellence in recruiting nonprofit leadership so that mission-driven organizations are better able to face the evolving challenges and culture of their sector.  Former clients include the Ford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts.