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.”