Former U of M President Robert Bruininks has been named interim president of the Bush Foundation, filling a vacancy left by the departure of CEO Peter Hutchinson in January.

Bruininks has been an informal adviser on various foundation initiatives over the years, including the priorities implemented under Hutchinson.

He was chosen because of his experience and reputation -- and because he does not want to be a candidate for the permanent job, according to the foundation's board of directors.

"The board is thrilled that Dr. Bruininks has agreed to step into this interim role," said Jan Malcolm, board chairperson.

Bush is the state's fourth-largest foundation, with $760 million in assets.

In an interview, Bruininks said he took the position because he supports the work of the foundation. He said he's worked for decades with the foundation's senior leaders, meeting informally -- and formally -- to discuss civic issues and program areas.

"I don't need another title on my resume,'' said Bruininks. "I am offering my services to a cause I deeply believe in.''

Bruininks, who stepped down as university president last summer, is on a one-year paid leave of absence from the U. He will move into a faculty position at the U's Humphrey School of Public Affairs starting next fall.

The Bush Foundation will reimburse the U half of his salary, which is about $455,000 a year, during the roughly six months he is expected to guide the foundation.

Bruininks' first day on the job was Thursday. He said he has no plans to launch any new initiatives, but rather will support the work already in place.

Bruininks will work roughly half-time at the foundation until it names a new president. The foundation has hired a national search committee to begin the process. Board member Irv Weiser, who chairs the search committee, said it will cast a "wide net."

Weiser said he hopes to have a new CEO in place by the end of the summer.

The Bush Foundation invested more than $30 million last year in projects supporting three areas: teacher training, Native American nation building and leadership and civic engagement. It funds projects in Minnesota and in North and South Dakota.

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511