Dr. Nick Bruno: Decade of dedicated service

Students, faculty, family reflect on ULM president’s time at university


Before Nick Bruno was the president of a university, he was a student at one.

And like many freshman on their first day, Bruno got lost looking for his class at Southeastern Louisiana University. He turned in circles barely able to hold on to his textbooks let alone his schedule as he searched for the building he was meant to go to. He was about to be late when a voice echoed behind him.

“You look like you could use some help,” the voice said.

It came from a man that Bruno had not noticed before, sitting on a bench. Bruno approached the man and told him what building he was looking for, hoping he could point him in the right direction.

Instead, the man introduced himself as Dr. Tom Tedder, a professor at the university, and led the way. After this one interaction, Bruno was determined to be that type of man and leader.

“I want to be as open and as helpful and as kind and as considerate as he was to me,” Bruno said.

Following the example of Dr. Tedder, Bruno has run ULM with similar hospitality for the past decade. Now, he has decided to retire from his position. Although he was not a popular choice in the beginning of his presidency, Bruno slowly became a university favorite, according to Camile Currier, the vice president of Student Affairs.

“As people saw his determination and dedication to the university and the students, he won over most of the naysayers,” Currier said.

One student Bruno definitely “won over” is Olivia Bailey. As Student Government Association president, Bailey works closely with the president on many campus issues.

“Every time I go up to him, it’s a genuine conversation,” Bailey said. “It’s not just small talk. He’s genuinely concerned with how I am.”

Bailey said she hopes to see that type of “authenticity” in ULM’s next president as well.

During his presidency at ULM, Bruno noticed a need for medical professionals in Monroe and the surrounding areas. With this need in mind, he started to focus the university on the health sciences and sought out ways to construct a medical school on campus.

There were many setbacks in the process as financial partners continuously stepped down from the project, but that only encouraged Bruno to continue working harder to reach his goal. For four years, he dedicated his life to getting a medical school at ULM and now he has succeeded.

Bruno’s persistence toward the medical school came as no surprise to his oldest daughter, Victoria James, who said her father is “a perfectionist when it comes to any kind of vision that he might have.”

“If he says he’s going to do something, he’s going to do it,” James said. “He makes a way for it to happen.”

Nick Bruno’s son, Steven Bruno, said he believes the medical school is his father’s greatest achievement.

“He has lived and breathed that medical school,” Steven Bruno said. “The medical school is like another sibling I never had.”

During their father’s 10 years at ULM, the medical school was not the only part of Bruno’s job that began to feel like a sibling. James said the university and all of the people on campus became their family as well.

Bruno, his wife Linda and his kids often attended university events and formed close relationships with faculty and staff.

“We don’t know what we are going to do with all of our free time now,” James said. “So much of our social calendar has been saturated with ULM events that it’s just going to be a huge adjustment for the entire family on what we are going to do now.”

Nick and Linda Bruno plan on moving to be closer to their kids and have a taste of normal life after his retirement is finalized. They then plan to travel around some together.

“I look forward to just being Nick again,” Bruno said. “Not Dr. Bruno, not President Bruno but just Nick.”