“Political, demographic, and economic influences have fundamentally changed the state-university relationship since the “golden age” of higher education in the 1960s: a large segment of the public today views higher education primarily as a private good instead of a public good, and competing state priorities such as health care and corrections crowd out financial support for higher education.”
What does it take to build a culture of innovation at the jCENTER? A high-energy, experienced managing director is a great way to start. I’m thrilled to report that the jCENTER has taken a giant leap forward with the addition of our first full-time professional staff member, Dr. Monica Bruning. As managing director of the jCENTER, Monica is developing partnerships across sectors and disciplines to advance our innovative work in higher education. Monica is off to a fast start since she began her post in mid-August. She has brought tremendous knowledge, experience, and energy to the position, and has quickly gotten up-to-speed with the unique University of Minnesota culture. With her leadership and commitment, the Center is on track for long-term success.
In meeting Monica Bruning for the first time, one can see her deep passion for this work. In describing her commitment to our agenda, she remarked, “The focus of the jCENTER – disrupting assumptions, reframing problems, and envisioning new futures – could be considered the underpinning of my life’s work.” Considering her rich and extensive background, one can easily see the connection.
Prior to her work at the Center, Bruning served as associate vice chancellor for enrollment and institutional effectiveness at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Earlier in her career, she was Director of Admissions at Western State University of Colorado and Montana Tech of the University of Montana. Bruning spent 13 years at Iowa State University where she served as the outreach/recruitment and talent expansion director for the College of Engineering. Also at Iowa State, she held the role of senior research associate and faculty member, leading collaborative multimillion-dollar National Science Foundation studies and projects to broaden STEM participation. One might say that innovation and a client-focused approach to work with colleges and universities is in her DNA.
Added to this extensive experience in the field, Bruning’s educational background is rich as it informs a scholarly-practitioner perspective on higher education innovation. Bruning has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Iowa State and earned a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Colorado – Denver. She has a B.S. in Education from North Dakota State University.
We are thrilled to welcome Monica Bruning to the University of Minnesota, and look forward to having an opportunity to connect her with our colleagues and engage new “friends of innovation” in higher education.