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St. Kate’s trustee emeritus receives Minneapolis Rotary award

Charles (Chuck) Denny, Jr. was honored by the Minneapolis Rotary June 4 for his visionary leadership in business and community.
Charles (Chuck) Denny, Jr. was honored by the Minneapolis Rotary June 4 for his visionary leadership in business and community.
Julie Michener

Charles M. Denny, Jr., trustee emeritus at St. Catherine University, was honored with the Minneapolis Rotary’s 2010 Service Above Self Award June 4.

In accepting the award, which recognizes those who have freely given their time and talent to their community, Denny spoke of the importance of engagement in the political system and within communities.

“We cannot leave the health of a community unattended,“ said Denny, known as "Chuck" to his many friends at St. Kate’s. “Difficult times can be navigated with sound core values and a strong moral grounding.“

Denny, who received an honorary doctorate from the University, is a former St. Catherine Board of Trustees chair and was a major contributor to the success of the University's Leadership in Mind capital campaign, which ended in 2005. The campaign was the largest undertaken by a Catholic university for women.

Denny and his family established the Denny Prize for Distinction in Writing at St. Catherine. The annual award honors his mother, Eleanor McCahill Denny ’26, who attributed her abiding love of books, words and elegant writing to her teachers at St. Kate's.

“Chuck is what ’servant leadership’ is all about,“ said Marjorie Mathison Hance, St. Kate’s vice president for external relations and a longtime friend. “His friendship and leadership has had a profound and lasting impact at the University.“

Longtime business and community leader

In the last five decades, Denny's contributions in the Twin Cities have been widespread, continual and at the highest levels.

After rising through the management ranks at Honeywell Corporation, Denny joined ADC Telecommunications, Inc. in 1971 and served as president, chief executive officer and, ultimately, chairman. He retired in 1994.

Under his leadership, ADC became known for its commitment to the community, especially in education, and among the Twin Cities business community, Denny’s leadership in the area of ethical practices within corporations is widely recognized.

He played a crucial role in drafting the “Minnesota Principles,” the ethical guidelines developed by leaders of global enterprises during his tenure as director of the Minnesota Center for Corporate Responsibility (now known as the Center for Ethical Business Cultures).

His yearlong tenure as the Louis W. Hill, Jr. Fellow in Philanthropy at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs culminated in the 2008 research article, “The Corporation in American Society,“ an exploration of the development and role of corporations in society.

His honors include the Minnesota High Tech Association’s Tekne Award for Lifetime Achievement and an Opus Sancti Thomae Award from his alma mater, St. Thomas Academy. He also holds honorary degrees from St. John's University, and the U of M.

Outside of ADC, Denny has served on the boards of First Bank System, Minnesota Power and Light, Pako Corporation, E.F. Johnson Company, McQuay Company and Tonka Corporation, as well as on the boards of numerous Twin Cities nonprofit organizations.

About the award

Established in 1983, the Service Above Self Award honors members of the Minneapolis Rotary Club who have given time and talent in services benefiting others beyond the call of their occupation without receiving or expecting personal gain or aggrandizement. Nominations are sought from the Club’s membership and a member committee selects the recipient.

Other recipients have included Governor Elmer Anderson, Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Penny and Bill George. Denny is the 28th recipient.

June 3, 2010 by Julie Michener

See also: Business, Leadership