MHEC Awards

You are encouraged to download the form letter and open in your Adobe Reader, and re-save once it has been completed. Please contact Mary Roberson, senior director of communications and marketing, at 612-677-2765 with any questions. All completed nominations should be submitted by Friday, September 23, 2022.

Phillip L. Sirotkin Award

Phillip SirotkinDr. Phillip L. Sirotkin (1923‐2007) was the founding father and senior adviser of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). Sirotkin’s skill at developing collaborative arrangements among state governments and higher education institutions was tapped to help create and establish a higher education compact among 12 states in the Midwest, the only section of the country that did not have a regional agreement at that time. After working with state officials to found the Midwestern Higher Education Compact in the 1990s, Sirotkin served several years as a senior adviser to the commission.

Sirotkin also served as the longtime executive director of MHEC’s sister compact the Boulder‐based Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). He guided WICHE for 13 years – 1976 to 1989 – during which time the 15‐state higher education organization created and extended cost‐effective educational programs and opportunities that benefit students and public and private colleges and universities throughout the West.

Sirotkin came to WICHE as its executive director from the State University of New York at Albany where he was executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs between 1971 and 1976.

He moved into higher education administration after several positions in the mental health field. He was with the National Institute of Mental Health from 1964 to 1971, serving as NIMH associate director during his last four years there.

Earlier, he was executive assistant to the director of the California Department of Mental Hygiene from 1960‐1963, and he helped to establish the mental health training and research program at WICHE between 1957 and 1960.

Sirotkin received his bachelor’s degree from Wayne State University (MI) in 1945, and his master’s degree and doctorate in political science and constitutional law from the University of Chicago between 1947 and 1951. He was an instructor and assistant professor of political science at Wellesley College between 1950 and 1957 when he joined WICHE for the first time to help develop its mental health education program.

During World War II, he served in Army intelligence between 1943 and 1946 when he became fluent in the Russian language.

Sirotkin, who was born in Moline, Illinois on August 2, 1923, had a consuming passion for teaching and education, politics, baseball, and literature.

Phillip L. Sirotkin Award Criteria

  • Exemplary leadership service to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact
  • Passion for postsecondary education
  • Innovation and creation of ideas that advance collaboration and cooperation in education
  • Creation of MHEC programs and services
  • Years of service to MHEC
  • Securing participation in MHEC programs and services
  • Building regional partnerships for effective and efficient access to, and quality of higher education in the states and in the Midwest
  • Promoting and identifying opportunities to increase visibility for MHEC within states, regionally and nationally

Phillip L. Sirotkin Award Recipients

1999 – Dr. Phillip Sirotkin (CO), MHEC Founding Father and Senior Adviser
2001 – Dr. William Sederburg (MI), First Chair of the MHEC Commission
2007 – Dr. David Murphy (MN), MHEC President Emeritus
2009 – Sen. Lana Oleen (KS), Past MHEC Chair and Interim MHEC President
2010 – Rep. Lyndon Carlson (MN), MHEC Commissioner, Commissioner Alternate, and Past MHEC Chair
2011 – Dr. William Napier (OH), MHEC Commissioner and past MHEC Chair
2012 – Dr. Gerald Brouder (MO), former MHEC Commissioner
2013 – Dr. Randolph Ferlic (NE), MHEC Commissioner and past MHEC Chair
2014 - Mr. Robert N. Downer (IA), MHEC Commissioner and past MHEC Chair
2016 - Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (WI), MHEC Commissioner and past MHEC Chair
2017 - Dr. Rolf Wegenke (WI), MHEC Commissioner
2018 - Mr. Larry A. Isaak (MN), MHEC President (2003-2018)
2019 - Dr. Stephanie Davidson (OH), MHEC Commissioner
2020 - Dr. Ken Sauer (IN), MHEC Commissioner and Past Chair
2021 - Rep. Barbara Ballard (KS), MHEC Commissioner and Chair, MHEC Governance Committee

Outstanding Service Award Criteria

  • Years of service to MHEC
  • Creation of MHEC programs and services
  • Securing participation in MHEC programs and services
  • Strong commitment to the MHEC principles
  • Increasing MHEC visibility in private industry
  • Promotion of public/private partnerships for the betterment of higher education
  • Exemplary leadership service to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact
  • Setting an example as a mentor for other volunteers
  • Innovation and creation of ideas that advance collaboration and cooperation in education

Outstanding Service Award Recipients

2009 – Dennis Linster, CIO, Wayne State College (NE) – since retired 2010
2011 – Grant Crawford, CIO and consultant, MHEC; MHEC Technologies Committee and CIO, North Dakota University System
2012 – Ken Sauer, Senior Associate Commissioner for Research and Academic Affairs, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
2013 – John Dunning, CIO, Wayne State College (NE) & MHEC Technologies Committee Chair
2014 - Ruth Ginzberg, Sr. I.T. Procurement Specialist, University of Wisconsin System
2015 - Carla Ahrens, Risk Manager, State of Missouri; and Greg Clayton, Director of Benefits and Risk Management, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
2016 - Patricia "PJ" Kale, Executive Director of Risk Management, University of Illinois
2017 - Sue Maes, Emeritus Dean for Continuing Education at the K-State Global Campus for Kansas State University
2018 - Pam Schutt, MHEC Director of State Relations - since retired, March 2018
2019 - Gretchen Bartelson, Dean of the Center for Teaching  and Learning, Northwest Iowa Community College, and Tari Lambert, Director, Transfer Indiana Central Office, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
2020 - Diana Malott, Director, Watkins Health Services at The University of Kansas; Tanya Spilovoy, Director, Open Policy for WCET; and Betsy Talbot, Manager of the Private Institution Registration and Licensing for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education
2021 - Shellie Haut, Executive Director/Licensure, Regulatory Services & Human Capital, Central Michigan University; and Tracy Korsmo, Enterprise Architect for the SLDS and BI Program Manager, North Dakota Information Technology