Bruss is the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

President Emeritus Dan Bruss speaking at the 2017 spring commencement ceremony
President Emeritus Dan Bruss speaking at the 2017 spring commencement ceremony.

MANKATO, MN – President Emeritus Dan R. Bruss, Ph.D., the ninth president of Bethany Lutheran College and 1973 alumnus, is the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

Dr. Bruss attended Bethany Lutheran College, where he received an associate in arts degree. He earned his bachelor of arts in biology from Augsburg College (Minneapolis, Minnesota) and a master of arts degree in chemistry from Minnesota State University, Mankato (Mankato, Minnesota). Dr. Bruss earned a doctorate of philosophy in chemistry from Montana State University (Bozeman, Montana). He began his academic career as an instructor at Bethany Lutheran College from 1975-1981. Prior to his Bethany presidency, Dr. Bruss taught for twelve years (1990-2002) at Central College (Pella, Iowa). During this time, Dr. Bruss moved his way through the academic ranks earning the title of full professor. While at Central, he held various leadership roles and was the faculty coordinator for the renovation and expansion of the Vermeer Science Center. He was twice the recipient of the Central College “Outstanding Performance Award for Institutional Service” and was also recognized with the “Huffman Award for Outstanding Support of International Education.” Dr. Bruss was also an assistant professor of chemistry at Albany College of Pharmacy (Albany, New York) from 1985-1990, where he earned the “Distinguished Teacher of the Year” award in 1989. He successfully combined a teaching career with research and was involved in many research projects, including work with Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Sterling Drug, Inc. He has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed academic journals. Dr. Bruss successfully authored or co-authored grant proposals that garnered half a million dollars in awards for Albany College of Pharmacy and Central College.

Dr. Bruss received the call to be President of Bethany in January 2002 and served until June 2015. He started as President when Bethany was very new to the bachelor’s degree-granting world of higher education, with only eight majors, and is credited for leading the College to be a full four-year institution. Under his leadership, Bethany added twelve new majors, and the A.A. degree was discontinued. Edgewood Place, an apartment-style residence, was built in 2005 to give upper-class students more independence. Study abroad opportunities and other international connections were developed. The College transitioned to NCAA Division III athletics, and new sports were added. A new academic building, Honsey Hall, the largest building on campus, was built in 2010 to house our growing academic programs. $28,000,000 was raised through the Faithful Future Capital Campaign, and $5,000,000 of those funds were set aside for endowed scholarships. The Campaign exceeded the goal by two million dollars. Also, while President, he served on the Greater Mankato Growth Board of Directors and the Minnesota Private College Council, where he was the Chair from 2013-2015.

A native of Franklin, Wisconsin, Dr. Bruss and his wife Kathy (’79 Moldstad) are retired and make their home in Pella, Iowa. They have two children, Elisabeth Fehr (’06) and Robert (’05- ‘07), and four grandchildren. Bruss continues to enjoy learning, exploring, and experimenting. He loves to travel, garden, cook, and get together with friends, many of whom are a part of the Bethany Family. He currently serves on the Kingdom Workers Board of Directors and is the Chair of the Trustee Succession Committee for the Marvin M. Schwan Charitable Foundation.

Dr. Bruss will be officially recognized as the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient at the Bethany Spring Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 12, 2023, when he will address the graduating class and guests.

Media: If you need further information, please contact Bethany’s Director of Alumni Relations, Jake Krier, at 507-344-7519 or Find additional information about the Bethany Distinguished Alumni Award, past recipients, and nominating criteria on the Distinguished Alumni web page.