Indiana governor presents Vincennes University's Phil Rath prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash honor

Indiana governor presents Vincennes University's Phil Rath prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash honor

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April 12, 2019

April 12, 2019 / Indiana governor presents Vincennes University’s Phil Rath prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash honor

Photos of Phil Rath award ceremony

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Vincennes University Vice President for Financial Services and Government Relations Phil Rath has received the highest civilian honor in the state of Indiana in recognition of his exemplary service to Hoosiers.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch presented the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash to Rath on April 10. The governor cited Rath’s many contributions to the state of Indiana during his tenure at Vincennes University.

Rath accepted the honor surrounded by legislators, state-supported university representatives, family, colleagues, and friends in Holcomb’s Statehouse office.

The award is in recognition of his immense contributions and decades of work in serving the state and VU. Rath received the honor for leadership and service to higher education, economic development, and community development. He is highly regarded by state leaders and the corps of government relations peers at other Indiana higher education institutions.

“Phil exhibits the greatest characteristics of a Hoosier, with his dedication to his community, his innovative ideas for higher education in our state, and, most of all, his humble acceptance of the highest honor the state can bestow on an individual. It was an honor to present him with a Sagamore of the Wabash, and we are lucky he has chosen Indiana to call his home,” Crouch said.

The Sagamore of the Wabash is bestowed upon Hoosiers who have rendered distinguished service to the state or to the governor and contributed greatly to Hoosier heritage.

Rath is among great company. Past recipients have included astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, and politicians. The award was created by Governor Ralph Gates in the 1940s.

American Indians of the northeastern United States used the term “sagamore” to describe a lesser chief or a great man among the tribe to whom the true chief looked to for wisdom and advice.

“Phil is a highly respected advocate for Vincennes University at the Statehouse and within state government,” said Susan Brock Williams, Director of Government Relations for Purdue University. “When Phil talks - especially on issues like career and technical education, building projects, and pensions - people listen. He’s beloved by his public higher education colleagues and is most deserving of this honor by Governor Holcomb.”

Rath is a proud VU graduate and has provided exceptional service in his nearly four-decade professional career with the institution. He began at VU as University Controller in 1983. He became Associate Vice President for Government Relations and University Controller in 1998. He assumed his current position in 2000.

“Phil is a great guy who undoubtedly deserves this award,” State Sen. Eric Bassler said. “He has spent his life giving back to Indiana.”

During his tenure at VU, Rath has successfully worked with legislators and other leaders in the Statehouse on important legislation related to K-12 and higher education and on economic and community development issues.

“Phil has consistently been someone with valuable knowledge that I, along with many others, have been able to turn to when working on legislation. I’m lucky to know Phil, and I thank him for his years of hard work and service to the Hoosier state,” Bassler added.

As a result of Rath’s work, the influence and reputation of Vincennes University throughout the state and the nation have vastly increased.

“Phil is passionate about serving VU and the Vincennes area overall,” State Sen. Mark Messmer said. “I am very proud of Phil for receiving this award from Governor Holcomb for his service to our state.”


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