Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development’s Deputy Commissioner Leroy Wade has been named recipient of the 2020 SHEEO David L. Wright Memorial Award. The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) made the announcement today.
Wade has worked for the MDHEWD for 34 years. He was nominated for the national award by Commissioner Zora Mulligan, with several partners and colleagues providing exceptional references and stories to his character and work ethic.
This award is named in honor of the late David Wright, an esteemed colleague and leader in state higher education who served in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, and the Florida Governing Board. This award recognizes a current SHEEO agency staff member who embodies the exceptional commitment, work ethic, and personal integrity of David Wright, and who has made outstanding contributions to their agency.
“In the 13 years I’ve interacted with Leroy, I have always admired his professionalism, dedication, and unflagging commitment to doing the right thing,” said Mulligan. “He is a tremendous professional to whom the state of Missouri owes a huge debt of gratitude. I am beyond excited for his recognition on a national level. There is quite literally no one more deserving.”
Wade has served under nine commissioners and eight governors. He joined the department as a research associate in 1986, was promoted to senior associate in 1991, and became the director of proprietary school certification in 1997. In 2005, he took on the additional role of director of the state’s student financial aid programs. He became an assistant commissioner in 2007 and deputy commissioner in 2013. He served as the interim commissioner in 2016 between the departure of Dr. David Russell and Commissioner Mulligan. He has led during difficult budget seasons, major transitions, and continues to serve Missourians with wisdom and character.
Other words used to describe Wade in his nomination included fair, smart, genuine, honest, leader, trustworthy, respect, strength, commitment, and perhaps most important, student-focused.
“He never forgets that at the end of the day, higher education is about the ability of an individual student to continue their education and pursue a career that supports them, their family and their community,” said Laura Winter, Project Director of St. Louis Graduates.