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Trine awarding Meeks doctorate
Degree to be awarded at commencement
Former Sen. Robert L. Meeks will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during Trine University’s 125th commencement ceremony Saturday, May 9 in the university’s Hershey Hall. The university is presenting the degree to recognize Sen. Meeks’s long-term friendship and service to Trine, the northeast Indiana region, and the entire state.
Throughout his 20 years in the legislature, Sen. Meeks demonstrated his commitment to higher education by championing State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana (SSACI) funding. The SSACI makes college affordable through need-based grants, and allows choice by granting awards to those attending the state’s public, independent and proprietary colleges. His dedication to SSACI funding resulted in $11.2 million in funding for 4,493 student awards at Trine University alone since 2004.
Meeks served Indiana’s District 13, which includes LaGrange and parts of Noble, Steuben, DeKalb, and Kosciusko counties. He was Appropriations Committee chair for the Senate, and held the line on fiscal responsibility, leading negotiations on some of the most difficult state budgets in history.
Ind. Gov. Mitchell Daniels, who bestowed upon Meeks the Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest civilian award given by the governor, called him “a rock for taxpayers,” and indispensible in his role in helping to achieve balanced budgets. Meeks is fond of joking that he learned to say “no” in several languages during his Senate years.
A graduate of International Business College in Fort Wayne, he served in the U.S. Army for two years before joining the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. He then served the Indiana State Police from 1960-81, retiring as Ligonier district commander. He sat on the Lakeland School Board for four years before his election to the Indiana Senate in 1988.
He earned the American Legion’s Distinguished Public Service and Welsh-Bowen Distinguished Public Official awards, the Addie Mattox Award from the Fraternal Order of Police, and was named Freshman Senator of the Year. He belonged to the Allen County Life Savers Club.
His 51 years of public service include membership in the American Legion, Scottish Rite, Mizpah Shrine, Masonic Lodge, Fraternal Order of Police, and Mount Zion Lutheran Church. He and his wife, Carol, have one daughter and three sons.
“Former Sen. Meeks is a true leader and has been a strong force in our state’s economic security,” said Dr. Earl D. Brooks II, Trine University president. “Indiana is well positioned today because of his strong leadership. We are proud to add him to the list of distinguished individuals whom we honor with doctorates.”