Rising Stars: Liz Kruse, of Clarke University

Liz Kruse has a goal of providing access to professional development training to local employers and employees. She works toward this goal as the first director of the new Institute for Professional Excellence at Clarke University.

Kruse met with people across the university and the Dubuque community to learn about the needs of local businesses and develop an innovative program to meet these needs. Under her leadership, the CareerPLUS program, which offers online microcourses, evolved from an idea to reality. Kruse began her career at the Institute in January 2020. The Institute and CareerPLUS launched in July 2020.

“My role is to be attentive to all of the details involved in bringing the new program/Institute to life and communicate clearly and concisely how our program can add value for employers and professionals,” Kruse said. “One of the lessons learned during this process was the importance of being responsive to the needs of the workforce and local employers/professionals.”

Paula Schmidt, dean for the College of Professional and Graduate Studies, at Clarke University, nominated Kruse and said “Liz orchestrated all of the behind-the-scenes work in order to launch a program that provides noncredit bearing micro-courses to provide relevant information and are responsive to the needs shared with her by local employers. She also worked to ensure that the micro-courses could be translated to virtual badges and/or toward credit if the participants desired to complete a degree.”

“We are only a couple months into our launch so it’s hard to know what impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the Institute and program,” Kruse said. “Many organizations are facing financial uncertainty because of the pandemic. On the plus side, employers could be looking for inexpensive, online professional development opportunities since travel is restricted during the pandemic.”

Kruse contributes to Clarke’s presence in the community as a member of their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for which she led the creation of a portal web page for Clarke’s students, faculty and staff. She’s a piano accompanist for the adult choir at Resurrection Parish and a mobile food pantry volunteer at the same church.

Kruse released her first children’s book, “What’s a Duhawk? A Loras College Alphabet,” on Duhawk Day, March 11, 2020. Kruse had the opportunity to attend several Loras events in Dubuque to promote the book.

“It was amazing to see how excited students, alumni, faculty and staff were about the book.”