First joint president to be inaugurated at St. John’s and St. Ben’s

One president will now lead the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University following a restructuring that no other private four-year college in the state has tried.

While he’s been on the job for a year now, the official inauguration of Brian Bruess takes place Friday in Collegeville. He says by serving both schools simultaneously, they’re able to save money and better serve the students.

"Certain things will remain separate, but we’re looking to find synergies and integration at every other turn," Bruess told FOX 9.

Bruess came to Collegeville last spring, after serving as president for St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Academically the two schools have been linked for around five decades, with students at both schools attending mixed classes across campuses, but the merging of the administrative arm of the schools has only happened in recent years.

The schools already share a joint leadership team and board of trustees, while financials will remain separate.

"They’re taking a risk with this new model, but it’s a calculated, wise risk that I believe comes with great opportunity for both schools," said Bruess.

These are the first four-year private colleges in Minnesota to have a shared president, and Bruess believes it’s a model schools nationwide will be following.

"There is no other model like it in American higher education," said Bruess. "Much of private education is watching to see what St. Ben’s and St. John’s can do with this new innovative model."

The inauguration ceremony will be streamed online Friday at 2 p.m.