The Toro Company and The Hoffman Family Foundation have joined together to honor Ken Melrose with the Melrose and The Toro Company Center for Principled Leadership at the University of St. Thomas. The four-year gift commitment will create a $3 million endowment with contributions totaling $2 million from The Toro Company and $1 million from The Hoffman Family Foundation.

Ken Melrose

Building upon the legacy of the Center for Ethics in Practice, the newly renamed center in the Opus College of Business will honor the memory of former chairman and CEO of The Toro Company Ken Melrose through research, teaching, and practice activities that promote and celebrate principled leadership. Melrose, who passed away in May and would have turned 80 today, was a champion for ethics and servant leadership. He was chairman of the center’s advisory board, held the university’s Holloran Endowed Professorship and was a popular lecturer on business ethics and leadership.

“Ken was a dear friend of our family, and an incredible mentor to me personally. He was a very giving person who helped many people grow into better leaders at The Toro Company, St. Thomas and beyond. My wife Tami, our children and I are thrilled that The Hoffman Family Foundation can honor him and his legacy through an organization that so deeply shares his values,” said Mike Hoffman, former chairman and CEO of The Toro Company.

“Ken lived and breathed the values of ethical, principled and, more importantly, servant leadership. The Toro Company is forever changed by his impact and I’m grateful to continue this legacy for our region at St. Thomas,” said Rick Olson, chairman and CEO of The Toro Company.

The Melrose and The Toro Company Center for Principled Leadership will connect learning in the liberal arts and humanities to leadership practice and the greater purpose of business in advancing the common good. Additionally, the center will explore the potential for principled leaders to cultivate meaningful work for employees and the associated purpose of business organizations in supporting social justice and well-being.

The Melrose and The Toro Company Center for Principled Leadership also will leverage the existing strong partnership with the Business Ethics Resource Center (BERC) powered by U.S. Bank, an open-access website that provides small and medium-sized enterprises with practical tools to build business ethics programs based on principled leadership and ethical business culture.

“This generous gift will honor and celebrate Ken Melrose as a principled leader who promoted the values, practice and impact of servant leadership,” said Dr. Stefanie Lenway, dean of the Opus College of Business. “This will also shine a spotlight on Toro and Opus and build their brands as co-leaders in promoting the efficacy of profitable business models based on purpose-driven strategies and values-based leadership.”

Co-led by Executive Director Dr. Nicole Zwieg Daly J.D. and new Academic Director Dr. Christopher Michaelson, the center will provide principled leadership development opportunities and highlight notable leaders with the creation of an annual award recognizing principled leadership in Melrose’s name.

Go to to learn more about the Melrose and The Toro Company Center for Principled Leadership.

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