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Debbie Sibbett
Director, Hoosiers for Higher Education

Larry MacIntyre
Director, IU Media Relations

Last modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2005

HHE Welsh-Bowen Distinguished Public Official awards presented

Education advocacy group honors Rep. Vernon Smith and Sen. Bob Meeks

Bloomington, Ind. -- Two veteran state legislators were recognized by Hoosiers for Higher Education for their significant contributions to higher education and to Indiana University.

IU President Adam W. Herbert presented Welsh-Bowen Distinguished Public Official awards to Representative Vernon Smith, D-Gary, and Senator Bob Meeks, R-LaGrange on Tuesday (Feb. 8). The award is named for former Indiana Governors Matthew Welsh and Otis Bowen, both of whom served as co-chairs of the Hoosiers for Higher Education state advisory committee at the organization's inception in 1991.

The awards were presented before an audience of some 500 HHE members, who were participating in the organization's 14th annual Statehouse visit to meet with lawmakers and urge their continued support for IU and other state-supported colleges and universities. With more than 9,000 members, Hoosiers for Higher Education is one of the country's largest grass-roots advocacy organizations.

Smith, a former Gary City Council member, was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1990. He serves on a number of committees including Education, and Family, Children and Human Affairs. Smith is also an associate professor of education at IU Northwest, Gary. He is an active member of the IU Alumni Association and was selected as IU Northwest's Distinguished Educator. He holds three degrees from IU, including a doctorate in education.

Meeks, a retired Indiana State Trooper, was elected to the Indiana State Senate in 1988. He is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is a member of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee.