June 5, 2019 / Longtime Vincennes University leader Phil Rath
receives 2019 Davis Citation
VINCENNES, Ind. – Vincennes University Vice President for Financial
Services and Government Relations Phil Rath is credited as a visionary
and being a transformative leader.
His extensive work and dedication to Vincennes University, his
hometown of Vincennes, and the Knox County region makes him the
perfect recipient of the 2019 Walter A. Davis Memorial Citation for
Service awarded by the Vincennes University Alumni Association. He
received the Citation for Service on June 4 during a reception at VU’s
Green Activities Center.
The remarkable career of Rath was celebrated by a full capacity crowd
of community and state leaders, colleagues, family, and friends.
VU President Chuck Johnson presented the citation to Rath.
“I saw quickly when I came as provost the kinds of things Phil did to
contribute to the success of Vincennes University: the tireless work
he did and that he brought to the table different ways of looking at
problems and those different views have made this institution
special,” Johnson said.
“Vincennes University, the Vincennes community and the state of
Indiana owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for Phil’s great career,
all the things he has done, all his contributions, and all the things
he continues to do every day. His tireless commitment to Vincennes
University and his passion and love for Vincennes University, I don’t
think have been equaled anywhere.”
Rath was praised for his service of more than 35 years by Johnson as
well as former VU President Dick Helton and John Gregg, former VU
interim president and former speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives.
“I don’t think there has been anybody at VU that has put a stamp on
this university in my lifetime - that was not president of this
university – other than Phil Rath,” Gregg said.
“He’s a friend of mine. A friend of the University. A friend of Knox
County. A friend of our two-party system and our governmental system
in the state of Indiana. A friend of many governors, legislators, and
higher education commissioners. A friend of other universities that
are here today. He’s someone who has always cared about his community
and Vincennes University, someone who always supported Vincennes
University, and someone who I am proud to say is my friend.”
Over the course of his career, Rath has led the construction or
renovation of nearly every building on VU’s campuses, and has overseen
numerous capital projects and renovations totaling more than $250
million. He played an instrumental role in helping the University
evolve from a single campus to a statewide institution of higher education.
“He’s a man of character,” Gregg said. “He’s very, very, very hard
working. He’s focused. He’s committed. He’s focused. He’s
knowledgeable. He’s focused. He has a win attitude and he’s focused.
Whenever Phil Rath would come to talk to me when I was in the
Legislature or when I had the pleasure of working here, I always knew
I was going to get from A to Z, everything in between, all the pros,
all the cons, and everything about it.”
Helton described Rath as a “godsend” when Helton arrived at the
University. He saluted his commitment to the entire community.
“He has great visionary skills,” Helton said. “I will always
appreciate what he has done for this campus. I will appreciate what he
has done for the community. When you think about Phil Rath, you think
about him being the VP for finances and government relations. That
government relations extended into our community and Vincennes,
Indiana is better for having Phil Rath in that community.”
Rath has been involved in significant efforts to improve the economic
and quality of life aspects of the community. He has been a leader in
attracting new businesses and has helped position Knox County as an
attractive area to locate.
ABOUT THE CITATION
The Walter A. Davis Memorial Citation for Service is named for former
VU President Walter A. Davis, who served from 1924-50. The award is
presented annually to a VU alumnus or resident of the greater VU
Community and recognizes civic leadership and contributions, in
addition to professional achievements.
Recipients are selected
from nominations submitted by alumni and the public, with the final
selection made by a committee comprised of a member of the VU Board of
Trustees, a former recipient, a representative of the public, and alumni.
ABOUT THE RECIPIENT
Rath grew up in Vincennes and graduated from Rivet High School
in 1974. He then enrolled at VU where he was a member of the men's
varsity basketball team. He completed his associate degree in Business
Administration in 1976 and transferred to Indiana University, where he
earned a baccalaureate degree in Accounting. Phil became a certified
public accountant and earned his MBA from Ball State University.
He began his professional career at Colgate-Palmolive and
returned to Vincennes in 1983 to serve as the Controller at Vincennes University.
Rath’s efforts and impact on the community are evidenced in the
transformation of the Vincennes Campus over the past 20 years. As Vice
President for Financial Services and Government Relations, he has
overseen numerous capital projects and renovations worth more than
$250 million. He has led the construction or renovation of nearly
every building on VU’s campuses - most notably the Red Skelton
Performing Arts Center; Recreational Sports Facility; Indiana Center
for Applied Technology; Jasper Academic Building; John Deere Training
Facility; Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and
Logistics; Aquatic Center; Jasper Center for Technology, Innovation,
and Manufacturing; Homeland Security Building; Art and Design Center;
Jefferson Student Center; Confined Space Training Facility; and Updike
Hall Center for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. He continues to
lead VU through its multimillion dollar renovation of the Learning
Resource Center that will transform the library into a
state-of-the-art, technology-driven academic support facility.
Rath has been instrumental in helping Vincennes University
evolve from a single campus to a statewide institution of higher
education and his knowledge of VU and its history have made him a
great leader. He oversees the areas of Budget and Accounting,
Management Information Center, Student Financial Aid, Bursar,
Procurement and Risk Management, Human Resources, Grants, University
Primary Care Center, Center for Research and Innovation, Architectural
Services, Facilities, Old Post Bookstore, and the Campus Police Department.
At the state level, Rath has established a reputation as a
tireless advocate for Vincennes University and the Vincennes
community. He is a sought-after expert on educational legislation as
well as other legislation relating to economic development and fiscal
policy. His presence in the halls of the State Capitol has served to
raise Vincennes University’s profile among state government leaders
and to influence policy for the betterment of countless Hoosier households.
Rath’s efforts have extended well beyond the University. He has
been involved in significant efforts to improve the economic and
quality of life aspects of the community. As chair of the YMCA Board,
he led a successful fundraising effort for the Bettye McCormick Senior
Citizen Center. A long-standing member of the Knox County Development
Corporation Board, Rath previously served as chair of the Board and
currently serves as vice chair.
Rath has been a leader in attracting new businesses and
positioning Knox County as an attractive area to locate. One of his
most visionary projects was the ambitious plan to renovate the
historic Kimmell Park, located along the banks of the Wabash River.
Phil worked closely with city officials and with several government
agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Indiana
Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Department of Natural
Resources, and others, to oversee the work on the park and the
accompanying construction on the park entrance and levee. He also
worked with the Utility Services Board to help connect the park to the
George Rogers Clark Memorial by creating the pedestrian-friendly
riverfront walkway. Since Kimmell Park's reopening in 2017, it has
been widely recognized as a quality-of-life asset that the community
will benefit from for many generations to come.
As current chair of the Regional Development Authority for the
Wabash River Region, Rath has led efforts to work regionally with
communities in Knox, Sullivan, and Vigo counties to increase tourism,
housing, entrepreneurship, and quality of place. Under his leadership,
the Wabash Valley RDA was successful in receiving funding from the
Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The funds will benefit the
Turn to the River project in Terre Haute, the future Grouseland
Visitors Center, and the planned $15 million housing development which
will be known as the French Village in Vincennes.
Rath and his wife Marianne (Hulen) have three children - Mitch,
Todd, and Jennifer - and are the proud grandparents of Keaton, Noah,
Baylor, Campbell, Bristol, Brecken, Sadie, and Greyson.
Congratulatory messages may be sent to Rath in care of the VU
Alumni Office, 1002 N. First St., Vincennes, IN 47591.
Vincennes University Newsroom
MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports
812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell,
Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom