Society & Culture

UGA’s McBee Lecture to look at ‘road to renewal for higher education’

Robert Bruininks

Athens, Ga. – Higher education has been the focus of Robert Bruininks’ career for more than 40 years. The president emeritus of the University of Minnesota will discuss “Public Good: The Road to Renewal for American Higher Education” at the 23rd annual Louise McBee Lecture on Nov. 2 at 11 a.m. in the UGA Chapel.

Founded in 1989, the annual McBee lecture series is one of the few in the U.S. focused solely on higher education.

The University of Minnesota is one of the largest institutions of higher education in the U.S. with more than 65,000 students enrolled system-wide. Bruininks served as its president for just less than nine years, stepping down June 30. Now as a professor in UM’s Center for Integrative Leadership in the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, he works on issues of public leadership, human capital and higher education policy.

Bruininks’ journey at UM started in 1968 when he landed his first job as an assistant professor in education psychology. He was fresh from finishing a Ph.D. in education at Vanderbilt University, where he also received his master’s degree. Over the years at UM, he moved up the ranks to professor, then to dean, executive vice president, provost and president.

Throughout his career, Bruininks’ focus has been on child and adolescent development, policy research and strategic improvements in the fields of pre-kindergarten through higher education. At UM, he was instrumental in founding the National Center on Educational Outcomes, the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Community Living and the Institute on Community Integration.

He was awarded the Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Fellowship and is a current fellow and president emeritus of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. He is also a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society and the American Educational Research Association. Bruininks served as chair of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in 2008 and was a member of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board until 2009.

The McBee Lecture honors Louise McBee, who was UGA’s former vice president for academic affairs and a former state representative from Athens. During McBee’s 25-year tenure at UGA, she served in a number of positions including dean of women, dean of students and acting vice president for academic affairs. Following her retirement in 1988, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents named her vice president emerita for academic affairs.

McBee was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1991 and served six terms before stepping down in 2004. In her last term, she was chair of the House Higher Education Committee.