Volume 82 | Issue 5
October 2014

Positive, Influential Past President Kaiser Leaves Legacy

KaiserBruce Kaiser passed away Aug. 1.

Kaiser served as ACUI president from 1977–78. During his presidential remarks at the 1977 annual conference, Kaiser said: “I feel a little like a new student body president, filled with dreams of programs and accomplishments. The only difference is that I am old enough to know that I can’t get all of it done in 12 months.”

Achievements during Kaiser’s presidency included the establishment of the at-large positions on the Executive Committee for the chairpersons of the Education and Recreation Committees and an at-large position focused on coordinating the work of communications, publications, and membership.

“I have fond memories of Bruce,” said Past President Manny Cunard. “He leaves a great legacy after many years of commitment to the profession. We should celebrate the work he did to make the campus community a better place for everyone.”

Kaiser held numerous other positions before becoming president. He was the Region 6 representative in the 1950s, when ACUI had 11 regions, and regional coordinator from 1959–60. Kaiser was a member of the Committee on the Future of the Association (1957–61) and served on the 1964 Golden Anniversary Committee and 1969 Conference Program Committee.

Additionally, Kaiser chaired the Special Projects Committee from 1961–64. The purpose of this committee was to “work with special projects, ideas, problems, and special interest studies which do not need continuous attention.” Through this committee, Kaiser helped determine the future of the ACU Photo Exhibit, develop standards for use of the ACU logo, and request legal information about cases and liability issues pertinent to union professionals.

After his presidential term, Kaiser continued to volunteer for ACUI. Roles included chair of the Nominations Committee, host coordinator of the 1993 conference in Chicago, and regional liaison for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns Committee.

“Bruce touched the lives of so many in the Association, including me,” said Executive Director Marsha Herman-Betzen. “He will be missed.”

Kaiser was just as dedicated to his home campuses as he was to ACUI. Following his service in World War II from 1942–45, Kaiser received his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. His first position was as director of the Student Union at Indiana State Teachers College (now Indiana State University) from 1951–56. It was during this time that Kaiser attended his first ACUI
annual conference.

Kaiser’s next opportunity was as the first director of the Student Union Building at Illinois State University. Beginning in the late 1960s, Kaiser supervised the planning and building of the Bone University Center and Braden Auditorium, which opened in 1973.
From 1978 until his retirement in 1995, Kaiser served as director of the Norris Center at Northwestern University.

“He was known as a leader who would always take the time to meet with students,” said Kelly Schaefer, executive director, Norris Center. “No matter what was happening, students were the priority here at Norris.”

Upon his retirement, Kaiser was given a lifetime honorary membership for his dedication to ACUI and the profession. When presenting him this award, Past President Bill Brattain said: “Bruce is a positive individual who has a wonderful sense of humor. Through the years, he has helped us to laugh at ourselves, and we all need to do this.”

As ACUI honors Kaiser’s legacy during the year of its 100th anniversary, it is interesting to note that his 1977 speech addressed the importance of the past.

“It is because of a philosophy started in England in 1815 that we are here today,” he said. “And because of an organization of professionals founded 63 years ago, we have gathered here in Southern California some 160 years after our founding so that we might meet together, share experiences, and develop as professionals in the education field. … I challenge you to find out as much as you can about the college union heritage which is yours because, as always with history, what happened then affects what we do now.”