In June 2021, Andrew Bruck ’05 was named acting Attorney General for the state of New Jersey — the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to hold the position.
Reflecting on this milestone in an interview with The Daily Princetonian, Bruck remembers being “a closeted gay kid in a dorm, in a freshman dorm at Princeton, who never imagined that I would have a husband, that I would have a kid, that I would be able to tell my family that I was gay, that I would be able to live or work openly. I certainly never thought that if I came out that I would be able to have a job in government, and all of that is possible.”
“People say it all the time, that representation matters,” Bruck told the ‘Prince,’ hoping to inspire LGBTQ+ youth with his story. He added, “I feel incredibly lucky that I get to do this, and I hope that is a signal to others that if I can do it, others can as well.”
Eric Anglero, assistant director of the Gender + Sexuality Resource Center, commented on this representation, telling the ‘Prince’ in an email, “my hope is that this representation helps them feel like their voices and perspectives are being heard and valued.”
They added, “Having representation by LGBTQIA+ individuals in all facets of public life also lets our community know that their identity is being represented when it comes to policy issues that may affect them.”
While at Princeton, Bruck was a student in the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), at the time called the Woodrow Wilson School. As a senior, Bruck’s thesis advisor was now-President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83, then a professor in SPIA and, starting in the middle of Bruck’s senior year, the University’s provost.
Eisgruber fondly remembered his time working with Bruck, telling the ‘Prince’ in an email, “even as a student, he demonstrated the strengths that make him an excellent lawyer: analytic precision, clear and forceful writing, pragmatic insight, and a commitment to the public good.”
Eisgruber also commented on the content of Bruck’s thesis, which he stated, “delved into issues about the fair treatment of accused terrorists. It required the kind of procedural sophistication about law that is essential for attorneys but rare for undergraduates. He did well with those issues, and even his drafts were well written.”
Bruck similarly recalled having a positive experience working with Eisgruber.
“It was so great to work with him. He’s just such an extraordinary mind how quickly he processes information … So it was great to have the opportunity to sit down and talk through with him the problems I was working on.”
He also felt that Eisgruber excelled at being a thesis advisor while also taking on the responsibilities of provost.
“What was great was, he became provost right as I started working on the thesis, and you would not have guessed he had a million other administrative responsibilities while also being a thesis advisor,” Bruck said.
Eisgruber also remembered this, stating, “I counted on them [my thesis students] to get in touch when they needed to speak with me. Andrew, as I recall, made sure that we had regularly calendared meetings during the spring term.”
Prior to being named Acting Attorney General, Bruck previously held several Attorney General roles with the U.S. Department of Justice and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Bruck reflected that his favorite career experience up to this point was working for Sally Yates, then-Deputy US Attorney General, at the end of the Obama administration.
“She was a really deeply good person and an incredibly thoughtful leader, and I had the chance to work with her on issues that we both cared a lot about, such as criminal justice reform,” he said.
Recently, Bruck and his husband became fathers to a young girl, but looking to the future, Bruck says that he has “no idea” where he sees himself going from here.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a point during the last fifteen years since I graduated college where I could have clearly articulated what it was I wanted to do next. I always try just to do a good job, work hard, act with integrity, and things seem to work themselves out, so I’m just going to keep doing whatever job I have as best I can, and if opportunities arise, they arise,” he said.
His favorite part of the job is meeting individuals affected by his work, such as sitting down with law enforcement officers who had just gone through training to reform how police officers use force.
However, he says his least favorite part of the job is that “it is not uncommon for folks in the political world to put a political spin on the work that we are doing, and it is frustrating when you’re trying to do a good job and people will mischaracterize it, either intentionally or unintentionally, for political purposes.”
Bruck also discussed the University Department of Public Safety officer who was recently named on a list of majorly disciplined law enforcement officers in the state of New Jersey, as well as the role of policing in New Jersey and at Princeton.
“There’s a lot that we need to do a lot in New Jersey and across the country in order to build and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” he noted.
He added, “Transparency is the start, not the end of the conversation. The mere fact that an officer engaged in misconduct, it does not end the inquiry ... We have to ask, what is this police department doing, what is this public safety department doing, to make sure that they’re holding accountable officers for engaging in misconduct.”
Bruck closed his conversation with the ‘Prince’ with advice for current Princeton students. “Don’t spend too much time worrying right now about what the rest of your life is going to look like,” he said.
“One of the great things about having a Princeton education and having Princeton on your resume is you will have a lot of incredible opportunities during your career, so you don’t need to worry about it too much while you’re a student,” Bruck added.
Katherine Dailey is an assistant news editor who often covers University affairs and breaking news. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @kmdailey7.