Rep. Barbara Ballard Receives Sirotkin Award from Midwestern Higher Education Compact

KS Rep. Barbara Ballard receives 2021 Phillip Sirotkin Award.Rep. Barbara Ballard, of Lawrence, Kansas, received the Midwestern Higher Education Compact’s (MHEC) Phillip Sirotkin Award on November 9, during the commission’s Annual Commission Meeting, held in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Ballard has served as a MHEC commissioner or commissioner alternate representing Kansas since 2005. Over the years, she’s also contributed to numerous MHEC committees. She currently serves on the Executive Committee and as chair of MHEC’s Governance Committee.

One of four regional higher education compacts in the United States, MHEC brings together midwestern states to develop and support best practices, collaborative efforts, and cost-sharing opportunities. Through these efforts it works to ensure strong, equitable postsecondary educational opportunities and outcomes for all.

“As the longest-serving member of the Kansas House, Barbara is a well-respected and insightful leader,” said Susan Heegaard, MHEC president. “MHEC benefits greatly from her dedication to higher education and her commitment to public service.”
In the early 1990s, Dr. Sirotkin was the visionary behind the regional higher education compact in the Midwest. MHEC established the Phillip Sirotkin Award in his honor in 1999 and periodically confers the award upon individuals that have been voted upon by the entire commission.

“Thank you, it really is humbling when you do things that you really want to do, love to do, enjoy doing and you are learning in the process,” stated Ballard upon receiving the award. She acknowledged her parents during her acceptance noting that education was extremely important to her dad. “You have to all work together to make MHEC what it is, and it is an outstanding organization.” She recognized her Kansas commissioner colleagues and the dedication and hard work of commissioners and staff.

Ballard is the senior associate director at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics where she coordinates the Dole Scholars program, the Youth Civic Leadership Institute (YCLI), Civic Engagement Week, Constitution Day, the Government and History Teachers Conference, Veteran’s Day events, and a Women Running for Office series. Barbara has been with the University of Kansas since August 1980. Ballard, who has a Ph.D. in counseling and student personnel services, has also taught for the School of Education and Department of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies. She currently serves as the co-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures Standing Committee, and is a board member for the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

MHEC’s states are synonymous with the Midwest census region states, and Kansas has been a was the first state to join the Compact back in 1990. In addition to Ballard, Kansas commissioners are Sen. Molly Baumgardner, Dr. Blake Flanders, CEO and president of the Kansas Board of Regents, Aaron Otto, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s designee, Allen Schmidt, member, Kansas Board of Regents. Commissioner alternates are Sen. Marci Francisco and Rep. Ken Rahjes.