During his sophomore year, Dan Gruner ’97 was deciding between majors. Looking to his professors for advice, one suggested, “You should look at History or English because if you can communicate you will be effective in this world.”
Fast-forward seventeen years later and you’ll find Gruner sitting on a local advisory council for a college for their business school. “We were talking about the necessary attributes of a business graduate. The CEO of Fox News is on the council as well as a woman who is the CEO of a major credit Union. They both stressed people’s need to effectively communicate orally and in written form. And I’m saying seventeen years ago a professor told me that and it’s absolutely true.”
Dan Gruner ’97 believes in the value of a liberal arts education. He considers the skills he attained while at St. Mikes as vital in succeeding in the business world.
As Assistant Vice President for insurance brokerage, Rose & Kiernan, Gruner works with companies to develop, maintain and comply with their employee benefits. “First and foremost in what I do for a living, I have to be able to effectively communicate. I think that a liberal arts education gave me the necessary tools.” Gruner views his work from a psychological standpoint. “No two clients are the same. No two-perspective clients are the same. If I’m not able to uncover what this person’s issue is or if I’m not able to help find a solution to a problem that I’m having, they’re probably not going to hire me”. Having the opportunity to take a wide range of classes while at St. Mikes, did not only to help Gruner figure out where he wanted to go in life but also gave him a broad experience in terms of education.
Gruner speaks about the things that are ingrained in the culture of the college. “Things to me that I remember is Sunday night mass. How many colleges in The United States are there hundreds of kids going to church together on a Sunday night?” When you get out in the real world and go through life, you take a lot for granted while you’re there but you know whether it was through move it was that spirit of doing things in the community”.
Gruner runs a non profit called The Benedictine Health Foundation’s Rosemary Gruner Fund in memory of his mother who passed away of cancer. “Our family decided we were really touched by the community and people supporting us while she was sick.” The Gruner family came up with a program. They partnered with a local foundation and launched the fund. “What we do is help people with living expenses when they undergo treatment. We provide them gift cards to either a local grocery chain for groceries or we provide fuel cards to help with transportation.” To raise money, the foundation hosts “The Bike for Cancer Care”, an annual bike fundraising event.
Today, Gruner remains active in the life at St. Mike’s. He cherishes his years spent at Saint Michael’s and the friends he met along the way. “I met my roommate day one freshmen year and we lived together all four years. I have a whole group who are lifelong friends. For the first time in four years all the guys got together and went to Killington for the weekend. It was like we hung out yesterday”. Gruner believes those friendships say a lot towards the character of the College and the type of student that either comes to St. Mike’s, or graduates from St. Mike’s.