Father Dennis Dease, alumnus Charles Lugemwa and senior Molly Amundson have received awards from Minnesota Campus Compact for their work in Uganda.
The organization, which annually confers awards that recognize effective leaders who develop campus-community partnerships, cited the St. Thomas trio on April 7 during the Minnesota Campus Compact annual summit at Macalester College.
Dease, president of St. Thomas from 1991-2013, was honored with the Presidents’ Civic Engagement Steward Award for his efforts in opening a hospital and two medical clinics for the poor in the Kampala area. As founder of the Friends of East Africa Foundation, Dease independently raised funds to construct the hospital, which will dedicate its fourth building next month.
Lugemwa, a 2003 master’s graduate in software engineering, was Dease’s partner in co-founding the hospital and clinics and received the Presidents’ Community Partner Award. He is a data management manager with the Uganda Revenue Authority and lives in Kampala. The St. Thomas Alumni Association previously recognized Lugemwa’s efforts with its Humanitarian Award in 2013.
Amundson received the Presidents’ Student Leadership Award for her role earlier this year in a January Term course with 32 students, including 16 from St. Thomas and St. Catherine and 16 from universities in Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. The course, taught by Dr. Amy Finnegan of the Department of Justice and Peace Studies at St. Thomas and Dr. Michael Westerhaus of the University of Minnesota, involved a global health immersion experience that examined how health and disease emerge through the interaction between biology and the social environment.
“Molly is a strong, curious, humble student [who] articulates her ideas clearly, solicits the insights and experiences of others, and leads by example,” Finnegan wrote in nominating Amundson for the Campus Compact award. “In Uganda, she volunteered and served on the student leadership council and played a critical role in soliciting, sharing and responding to feedback from her peers. She asks excellent questions about the injustices of the world and her role in addressing them.
“Finally, she was [an] extraordinary leader in her capacity to challenge herself outside of her comfort zone and build relationships with her Ugandan counterparts. Through her example, she inspired other students to also integrate and seize opportunities to build relationships.”