Class of ’54

January 2013

Public Service by Dick Brubacher

Vic Carter has asked me to explain how I was able to be appointed to four major political positions, by four Minnesota governors, two of whom were Republicans and two were Democrats.  I have served as Commissioner of Administration under three governors and as Chief of Staff to one governor.

From 1939, when the Minnesota Department of Administration was created, until 1976, when approximately one half of its responsibilities were taken to create the Department of Finance it was the principle administrative and management department of state government.

The governor’s chief of staff and the commissioner of administration were known as the governor’s right and left hands and were generally the two highest profile political appointees of the governor.

My first appointment came in 1968, from a Republican governor.  At that time I was in my tenth year as city manager in Hopkins.  That first appointment was as assistant commissioner of administration, but within a year I was appointed commissioner of administration.  At the next election, a democratic governor was elected.  He asked me to stay on until he filled my position with his own appointee.  I did and after about two months he asked me to stay as commissioner.

The governors I worked for had a desire to serve the people of Minnesota with responsible quality and efficient government.  Two old adages that were part of their philosophy:  they could disagree without being disagreeable and that government is the art of compromise.

Other reasons that may have contributed to my success and survival:

  •  My education in public administration where we were taught how to be administrators and not to focus on politics.  My ten years as city manager was excellent training for my state management appointment.
  • I worked with a very competent and well prepared staff who gave me good and honest information−not just what they thought or knew was what I wanted to hear.
  • Although most people knew my political leanings, I did not participate in any political activities while commissioner of administration, but I did so in my final position as chief of staff.
  • Whenever I received a request for information, such as fiscal or department policy, from a legislator, a legislative committee or a political caucus, I would make sure that both political parties were given copies of the same information.
  • I made it clear to whoever was appointing me that I would not speak negatively about or criticize any of the governors I had worked for.
  • I tried to be honest with people, or committees of the legislative.  I did not try to bluff an answer.  If I didn’t know the answer I would politely tell the questioner I didn’t know, but would get back to them with an answer.  I would then make sure that all the people involved or at the meeting received copies of my answer.  Early in my state government career one of my staff pointed out that in many cases a questioner knew the answer, but wanted the question and the answer on the record.
  • Tried to keep snap decisions to a minimum and tried to get as much information about both sides of an issue before making a decision.
  • Admitted mistakes and would recommend discontinuing an activity if I felt it had no future value, even if we had spent considerable resources to try to make it successful.
  • Tried to treat everyone with respect and kindness regardless of their relationship to me or my position.

In conclusion, I would say that I worked at being a professional public administrator in a way that today might be called transparency.  I felt my recommendations and decisions should be good, honest and informed management decisions and left the political decisions for those involved in politics.


Many thanks Bru for sharing your political service achievements.  The summary was rational, sensitive and special to me.  We all know about the "Greatest Generation" before us and the "Baby Boomers" after us.  Your write-up describes most of us as transparent, hard-working, honest, persevering and modest.  This implies we may be the "Quiet Generation.”  This will be "suggested reading" for my children and grandchildren.  Thanks so much.

In class news, Betty Lundgren Schlotthauer shared that, several Gusties from the Twin Cities area celebrated Dave Johnson's 80th birthday with him last week at his condo in Minneapolis.  Happy Birthday, Dave, and welcome to our new decade.

Carolyn Gooder Towley Alexandria, sent a note saying that she still keeps busy playing the piano and organ.  I’m sure it helps to keep the mind sharp too, Carolyn.

All the best in the New Year,

Vic Carter

1954 Communications Chair

Campus News

Upcoming Chapter Gatherings

National Chapter events for alumni, parents and friends are scheduled for the 2012-13 academic year and will focus on the College’s pillar of “Teaching and Learning.”  Please save the date for the event in your area.

Feb. 3 – Los Angeles – 12 p.m., FIG Restaurant

Feb. 4 - Palm Springs – 6 p.m., Escena Golf Club

Feb 13 – Tampa – 6 p.m., home of Neil ʼ69 and Robyn Fenske

Feb. 15 – Naples – 6 p.m., Flemings Steakhouse

Feb. 28 – Seattle – 7 p.m., JM Cellars Winery

Mar. 2 – San Francisco – 2 p.m., Rock Wall Winery

Music Tours – February 2 - 10

The Gustavus Choir will be on tour in the Southwestern United States, and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra will be traveling the Midwest.  The Gustavus Choir will have concerts and/or worship services in the following cities:  San Diego and Riverside (California); Green Valley, Sun City West, and Phoenix (Arizona); Santa Fe and Albuquerque (New Mexico).  The Gustavus Wind Orchestra will have concerts and clinics in the following cities:  Excelsior, Rochester, Winona, and Plymouth (Minnesota), Mason City (Iowa), Lake Forest and Chicago (Illinois), Germantown and Wausau (Wisconsin).  Please check: for more information.  Both ensembles will have their home concerts in Christ Chapel on Feb. 16. 

On His Watch:  John S. Kendall at Gustavus

Dr. John Kendall ’49 served Gustavus as a faculty member for 23 years and as president for 10 years.  Rev. Dennis Johnson ’60, also a former president of Gustavus, wrote a book about the record of John Kendall as a professor and as a president.  As such, it is a study in leadership.  It is about a man who came up through the academic ranks to lead one of America’s best colleges.  It is about his preparation for that office and his hopes once he occupied it.  It is what happened “on his watch,” as he often described his time at the helm.  The book is available at the Gustavus Book Mark.

Christ Chapel Cited as One of the Most Beautiful

Here is a link that includes the Gustavus Chapel as one of the thirty most beautiful college chapels in a survey of schools across the country.  Take a look at some of these beautiful chapels including our own Christ Chapel by going to