Curator’s Professor is Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department
“Mind if we pop in?”
Vaught smiled. Getting Kruger into the Gallery of Art was even easier than he’d anticipated. He had invited Kruger—the chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department—to a “meeting” in the Fine Arts Building under the guise that all the other nearby conference rooms were occupied. Little did Kruger know that he was about to receive a surprise award: the University of Missouri System President’s Award for Citizenship-Leadership.
It wasn’t until Kruger spotted his wife in the crowd that he realized something was up.
That “something” was pretty significant. The prestigious citizenship award is given for three categories: Leadership, Service and Mentoring. The $5,000 leadership award recognizes faculty who have provided exemplary leadership for the university. Just three citizenship awards are given each year.
Vaught and UM System President’s Chief of Staff Bob Schwartz told a mix of colleagues and friends that in his 20 years at UMKC, Kruger has provided visionary leadership, first as a professor and for the past nine years as chair.
“He exemplifies exactly what this award is about. He has transformed the department into a highly energized faculty group. He has taken a complex and sophisticated discipline and made it accessible to students and the community,” Vaught said.
Vaught credited Kruger for increasing external funding by five times what it was when he first became chair. In a letter of support for the award, Professor Wai Ching praised Kruger’s ability to foster a group dynamic that “is harmonious, cooperative and supportive of each other.”
Now that he has been given the award, Kruger admits that he’s still a little surprised.
“I’m thrilled. I’m honored that of all the people, they picked me,” Kruger said, adding that he gives his faculty credit for taking the Physics and Astronomy department to the next level. “I’m basking in the light that they’re generating.”