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 Information Director
812-888-4164 office, 314-599-1519 cell, VUNews@vinu.edu, email@example.com
VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations, www.vinu.edu/newsroom