Distinguished Alumni

Brown College is proud of the accomplishments of its graduates and the contributions they are making in their respective fields. Shown here are some of our students and the steps they have taken in their careers.

Steve Gunderson

1974 Brown Radio Graduate

Steve Gunderson

Steve Gunderson grew up with two passions; sports and politics. Shortly after graduating with a degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin Madison, Gunderson enrolled in the Radio program at Brown Institute. He saw in sports what would ultimately shape his future political ideology. He loved sports because it has a unique way of bringing people together around a common purpose – cheering for the same team. It’s a healing element in an increasingly polarized society.

After graduation from Brown, Steve returned home where his love of politics trumped his love of sports. He began his political career in the Wisconsin State Legislature and eventually voters sent him to Washington, D.C., representing Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District. Gunderson served a successful eight terms.

In 2012, He was elected President and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities based out of Washington, D.C. As a result, Steve represents more than 1,600 institutions across the country. When asked about the future, Gunderson pointed out that while we all use technology the role of verbal communication is very important in every aspect of life. He picked up these skills at Brown and credits them as keys to his success today. "First, start with the most important message. Second, communicate in short, simple sentences so the listener or the reader can follow you, and understand you. In broadcasting they will only hear you once, so make sure you speak in ways that enable them to instantly understand."

In closing, Gunderson says, "I’m a good example of someone with a liberal arts degree and all the theory that comes with such studies. But, I needed the practical skills. That is why I enrolled at Brown."

Joe Kral

1995 Associate of Applied Science in Advertising Design

Joe Kral

In 2005, Joe Kral was contacted by some buddies to create a logo for a new company targeting college students. Joe was asked to create two specs for the company which at the time was thinking about shortening its name. The company was a little known entity and the first spec was for “the” Facebook and the other for, Facebook. He charged a one-time fee, $5,000 dollars. His buddies who referred him and worked on the backend of Facebook turned down stock options. None of them had a crystal ball at the time.

In his professional design career, Joe has worked on Miller Lite, United Airlines, Target, American Eagle Outfitters, Subaru and BMW to name a few. The jobs have taken him from San Francisco, to L.A. and Pittsburgh.

As an art lover since childhood, Joe came to Brown in 1992 to turn his passion into a career. When instructor Bob Murphy brought in a ground breaking design magazine Ray Gun, Joe was inspired by the creator, who had no formal design training and broke every rule of design. This led Joe to develop his own fonts which he sells on his website, Test Pilot Collective. When Bob took the class to a local ad agency, Joe met his future mentor, Jeff Johnson.

After graduation Joe was holding down two part-time jobs and actively looking for work in graphic design. One day he finds himself serving coffee to Jeff Johnson from Duffy Design. Jeff told him to send over some of his designs. He did. Then when a national story was published about Minneapolis setting an all-time high for murders, Joe took to the streets with a message. His posters read, “Stop the Killing.” He hung them all over the Twin Cities. Local artists began contacting him to collaborate and Johnson contacted him with a job offer. Today, he is the Senior Digital Designer at Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis.

Bud Nornes

1962 Brown Radio graduate

Bud Nornes

When Minnesota State Representative Bud Nornes recently met with a group of college students at the state capitol, he told them, "I never thought I would be here when I graduated from Brown." Before becoming involved in politics, Nornes had a long and successful radio career starting in Thief River Falls after his graduation from Brown Institute in 1962. Today, he chairs the House Committee on Higher Education in the Minnesota Legislature.

The transition from radio announcer to legislator didn’t happen overnight. Nornes’ radio career took him from Thief Rivers Falls to Mitchell, South Dakota and, finally, to Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Given the opportunity to invest in the station, Nornes became part owner and eventually the General Manager. Along the way, he learned a lot about working with good people. Broadcasting is very small he says, and being a good citizen was important to him. Nornes has never been afraid of taking chances.

In the 1980’s, Nornes eased into politics by running for the local school board. His next move to the state legislature wasn’t as smooth as he would have liked. He lost the first two times he ran, but the third time was the charm. He’s been in the Minnesota Legislature since 1996.

Greg Thunder

1981 Brown Radio graduate

Greg Thunder

In the nearly 30 years since he graduated from Brown College, Greg Thunder’s career has taken him from one end of the United States to the other with stops in between. From his first job in Lincoln, Nebraska Greg, who is being recognized today with the Brown College Distinguished Alumni Award, has managed to build a wildly successful broadcasting career that has included stops in Denver, Seattle, Washington DC, The Twin Cities, Chicago, and New York City. Few graduates of the Brown College Broadcasting program can claim the kind of on-air success that has been reached by this man. A mentor to many, Greg Thunder returned to the Twin Cities in 2004 to take over the morning show at KS-95 where he remains to this day. His earlier Twin City stations included WLOL and KDWB. Besides his on-air duties at KD-95, Greg co-hosts an annual radio-a-thon that has raised millions of dollars for children’s cancer research and children with disabilities.

To learn more about Brown College, our degree programs or how to apply for admission, please contact us for more information.