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President and Commerce Secretary Present Two Companies, Three Education Organizations With Nation's Highest Honor in Quality and Performance Excellence

Schools Recognized for First Time in History of Baldrige Awards

President George W. Bush and Commerce Secretary Don Evans today honored five organizations, including the first in education, with the 2001 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in recognition of their performance excellence and quality achievements.

The 2001 Baldrige Award recipients are: Clarke American Checks, San Antonio, Texas; Pal's Sudden Service, Kingsport, Tenn.; Chugach School District, Anchorage, Alaska; Pearl River School District, Pearl River, N.Y.; and University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wis.

"I was privileged to know Malcolm Baldrige," said President Bush. "He was one of America's most distinguished Secretaries of Commerce, and a fine and honorable man. The award that bears his name reflects the virtues he brought to public and private life: a commitment to excellence, shrewd and sound judgment, principled leadership, integrity and a sense of responsibility. Today's winners have met a rigorous test and set a worthy example for others."

"It is my very special privilege today to recognize the first Baldrige Award winners in education. President Bush has made education reform a top priority. The quality of our public schools directly affects us all--as parents, as students, as business leaders, and as Americans. Our economic security and well-being depend heavily upon how well we prepare our young people for the future," said Commerce Secretary Don Evans.

Nathaniel Moore, a 17-year-old student from Whittier, Alaska, accepted the award on behalf of Chugach School District.

The Baldrige National Quality Program is a public-private partnership managed by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It was established in 1987 to improve performance in U.S. organizations. Awards are made to organizations that have substantially benefited the economic or social well-being of the United States through improvements in performance excellence. Awards can be given in five categories: manufacturing, service, small business, education and health care.

The application process is rigorous and thorough. Applicants for the award submit up to 50 pages of details showing processes, improvements and results in seven areas including leadership, customers and markets, human resources and strategic planning. Each applicant receives more than 400 hours of review by an independent board of business, education and health care experts and a detailed report citing strengths and opportunities for improvement. Since 1988, 46 organizations have received the Baldrige Award.

The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are used worldwide by thousands of organizations to assess and improve their overall performance. Since 1988, almost two million copies of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence have been distributed, and wide-scale reproduction by companies and electronic access add to that number significantly.

Each Baldrige Award winner receives a Steuben crystal stela encasing a gold medallion engraved with the Presidential seal and the words, "The Quest for Excellence." The award is named after Malcolm Baldrige, Secretary of Commerce from 1981 until his death in a rodeo accident in July 1987. Baldrige was a proponent of quality as a key to this country's prosperity and long-term growth and helped draft the act establishing the Award program. The act was signed into law by President Reagan in August 1987.

NIST manages the Baldrige National Quality Program in conjunction with the private sector. As a non-regulatory agency of the Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST develops and promotes measurements, standards, and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade, and improve the quality of life.

Further information on the Baldrige Award winners for 2001 and on the Baldrige National Quality Program is available at

Released March 7, 2002, Updated January 23, 2023