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Kruse Scholars


The Communities of Excellence Scholarship was established  by Lowell and Leslie Kruse in the spring of 2011 with students at the University of Minnesota, and in 2014 expanded to Augustana University in Sioux Falls, SD. At the beginning of 2017 a total of 26 students are either currently engaged in the Scholarship experience or participated prior to their graduation.

During the 11/2 to 2 year-long scholarship experience, Kruse Scholars engage with the Communities of Excellence 2026 Initiative through educational activities and projects designed to add value to student learning and orient them to the skills needed as future leaders to improve the performance of the communities they will live in. The Kruse Scholar experience is grounded in the Baldrige Principles of Performance Excellence.

In establishing the Kruse Scholarship,  Lowell and Leslie stated, "Over the years the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework has had an enormous impact on improving the performance of organizations from all sectors of our economy.  Communities of Excellence 2026 believes it holds the potential to improve the performance of entire communities and ultimately influence the overall success of our country. It's very important that students have exposure to this approach and thought process as they prepare to enter their chosen careers and a lifetime of community leadership."

We've asked each of the past and current Kruse Scholars to share their thoughts on community leadership, performance excellence, and how their experience as a Kruse Scholar has or may influence their careers.  Read their stories....

University of Minnesota

Advisor: Heidi Mastrud

Class of 2019

Class of 2018

Class of 2017

Class of 2016

Class of 2015

  • Fatima Asamarai, MHA
  • Katie Fritz Fogel , MPH
  • Kathleen Jensen, MHA

Class of 2014

  • Mee Cheng, MPH
  • Amanda Little, MHA
  • Lance Udy, MHA

Class of 2013


Augustana University

Advisor: Ryan Sougstad, PhD

Class of 2017

Class of 2016