Spring Commencement 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017 - 10:30am

Link to Commencement Vespers - May 11, 7:30 p.m.]


This event will be live streamed on the web, and on Facebook Live, starting at approximately 10:10 a.m. (video player at bottom of this page)

Commencement Speaker

Dr. Dan Bruss |

Dan Bruss

Dr. Dan Bruss served as the ninth president of Bethany Lutheran College from 2003 to 2015. This was a time of rapid expansion of the baccalaureate programming, both in terms of number of majors and supporting programs such as study abroad and the transition of athletics into NCAA Division III. Edgewood Place apartments and Honsey Hall were also constructed during this time.

Dr. Bruss received an associate in arts degree from Bethany Lutheran College, a bachelor of arts in biology from Augsburg College, and a master of arts in chemistry from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He began his academic career in 1975 as a chemistry instructor at Bethany, leaving in 1981 to pursue his doctorate in chemistry from Montana State University.  

Dr. Bruss was an assistant professor of chemistry at Albany College of Pharmacy in Albany, New York, from 1985-1990, where he earned the “Distinguished Teacher of the Year” award in 1989.  He then spent twelve years (1990-2002) teaching chemistry at Central College in Pella, Iowa. In addition to attaining the title of full professor, he held a variety of leadership roles and received awards for institutional service and support of international education. 

Dr. Bruss successfully combined his teaching career with research and collaborated with academic, government and private sector laboratories. He has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed academic journals. 

A supporter of community and state initiatives, Dr. Bruss has served on a number of not-for-profit boards. He is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the Blue Earth County Historical Society.

A native of Franklin, Wisconsin, Dr. Bruss and his wife Kathy, also a graduate of Bethany, are the parents of two grown children who both attended Bethany, and have two granddaughters. In retirement Dr. Bruss has enjoyed having a flexible schedule and the ability to pursue some new adventures.

Distinguished Alumna Award

Judith (Maginnis) Kuster |

Judith Kuster

Judith (Maginnis) Kuster is the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Alumna Award. Judy was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and has one brother, Richard Maginnis who is also a Bethany alumnus. Kuster is married to Bethany Professor Emeritus, Dr. Thomas Kuster. The couple will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year. The Kusters have nine children, and twelve grandchildren, of which many are Bethany alumni. They have also sponsored refugees and immigrants and welcomed students into their home, all of these are considered to be like family. The Kusters currently live in New Ulm, Minnesota, and are members of Peace Lutheran Church in North Mankato, Minnesota. 

Judy is a graduate of Bethany High School in 1962, and attended Bethany Lutheran College before transferring to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning a bachelor and master of science in speech pathology. She worked as a speech clinician in various schools throughout the Midwest before she began her career as an instructor, and retired as a professor, in communication disorders at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she also received her master’s of science in adult counseling. 

Kuster is nationally recognized for her work with communication disorders, having written for and been referenced in numerous professional publications on a local, regional, state, national, and international level. She has been a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and led several workshops and research projects over the years helping others in the communication disorders field. 

In addition to the Bethany Distinguished Alumna Award, Kuster has received numerous awards including the 1987 New Ulm, Minnesota, Sertoma Service to Mankind Award, the 1989 Region IX Minnesota – Roger Wolff Achievement Award, and 1996 American Speech-Language and Hearing Foundation DiCarlo Outstanding Clinical Achievement Award. In 2002, she was named Fellow of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association. She was awarded the 2003 Distinguished Contributor Award by the International Fluency Association, and the 2007 Outstanding Contributor Award by the International Stuttering Association. She received the 2008 ASHA Distinguished Contributor Award, a 2008 Global Citizen Award, Minnesota State University, Mankato, and in 2009, the National Stuttering Association inducted Judy in their hall of fame for the tremendous impact she has had on people who stutter.