Vincennes University mourns the death of longtime leader Phil Rath

Vincennes University mourns the death of longtime leader Phil Rath

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July 12, 2019

July 12, 2019 / Vincennes University mourns the death of longtime leader Phil Rath

Phil Rath photo

VINCENNES, Ind. – Vincennes University President Chuck Johnson has announced with a heavy heart the passing of longtime VU leader and Vice President for Financial Services and Government Relations Phil Rath.

Rath passed away in the early morning on July 12, 2019.

He was dedicated to VU and served the University faithfully in a variety of capacities. The Vincennes native began his career at VU as controller in 1983 and advanced to the position of Vice President for Financial Services and Government Relations in 2000.

Rath served VU and the greater Vincennes and Knox County region with distinction for nearly four decades.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb recognized Rath for his esteemed service to Hoosiers by bestowing him the prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest honor in the state of Indiana. Rath also received the 2019 Walter A. Davis Memorial Citation for Service presented by the VU Alumni Association. The City of Vincennes honored him earlier this week by renaming Oliphant Drive near Kimmell Park to the honorary “Rath Way” as a symbol of the city’s appreciation of his selfless service and his spirit of civic cooperation.

“The passing of Phil is not only a huge loss for Vincennes University, but for the City of Vincennes and Knox County as well,” Vincennes Mayor Joe Yochum said. “Phil’s support on projects such as Kimmell Park and the levee have substantially benefited the entire community. I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to work with Phil over the last several years.

“The City of Vincennes extends our deepest sympathy to the Rath family.”

Throughout Rath’s tenure at VU, the construction of many new facilities and major renovations have taken place, some of which include the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center, Indiana Center for Applied Technology, Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics, Jasper Center for Technology, Innovation, and Manufacturing, New Art and Design Center, Jefferson Student Union Center, Mock Mine and Confined Space Facility, Kimmell Park Renovation, and Updike Center for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics.

His transformational leadership at VU is a result of his decades of service and leadership in economic and community development, his immeasurable contributions and decades of work in serving the state of Indiana, his tireless efforts in government relations, raising Vincennes University's profile among state leaders, as well as his involvement in civic leadership throughout Knox County.

Knox County Development Corporation President and CEO Kent Utt remembered Rath for his get-it-done approach and his vast contributions to VU, Knox County, region, and state.

“I can’t think of a person who had more drive, gave 110 percent, was a hard-nosed charger for the betterment of everything he set out to accomplish,” Utt said. “His tireless commitment and leadership to make VU and Knox County a better place to live, work, and play will be greatly missed. While many in our community, region, and state talk about various initiatives, improvements, and projects, Phil had the remarkable ability to execute and get things done. Phil’s vision was honestly unmatched by anyone that I have ever dealt with in my professional career. Phil was one of the original founders of KCDC and his visionary leadership style set the path for economic growth in the past, now, and in the future. Phil was always supportive of KCDC and our mission.”

VU President Chuck Johnson summed it up this way. “Phil had a driving passion for VU and a deep love for Vincennes and Southwest Indiana. So much of his work happened in the background, but his numerous contributions will benefit generations to come. He will be greatly missed.”

Rath is survived by his wife, Marianne (Hulen); their children, Mitch, Todd, and Jennifer; and grandchildren, Keaton, Noah, Baylor, Campbell, Bristol, Brecken, Sadie, and Greyson.

Friends may visit with Rath’s family on July 16 from 2-7 p.m. at Goodwin Funeral Home, 524 Broadway St. in Vincennes. A private memorial service will be held at a later time.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Vincennes University Phillip Rath Scholarship online at and click on the "GIVE to VU" button and select "VU Phillip Rath Scholarship" or mail a check to "VU Phillip Rath Scholarship" at Vincennes University, 1002 N. First Street, Vincennes, Indiana, 47591 or drop off a donation to Diana Hatton, Room 165 in the Welsh Administration Building.


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MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports Information Director
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VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations,