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Sherry Burkey to Receive National Award

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Published:2014-10-13 School
Sherry Burkey to Receive National Award    Print Snohomish Times    
Sherry Burkey to Receive National Award

BELLINGHAM – Sherry Burkey, associate vice president and director of Government Relations for Western’s Office of University Relations and Community Development, has been selected to receive the Marvin D. “Swede” Johnson Award from the Council for Advancement and Support for Education (CASE).
“Over the course of her 30-year career in higher education Sherry’s integrity, successful legislative advocacy, inter-institutional leadership, and genuine love of politics have made her one of the most admired government relations officers in Olympia. It’s wonderful to see Sherry get this well-deserved recognition on a national level as well,” said Western President Bruce Shepard.
Burkey is the first-ever winner of the national CASE award from the state of Washington and also from the Pacific Northwest. She is also the fifth woman to be honored in the 20 years of the award.
“Sherry’s footprints are evident in the form of buildings, academic programs and in other less tangible ways on both the Western and University of Washington campuses,” said Steve Swan, WWU vice president for University Relations and Community Development. “At the heart of her incredible career in government relations has been an intense inner desire to enhance the quality of the student learning experience. Sherry is so deserving of this recognition and the national committee which selected her for the award recognized her excellence.”
The Swede Johnson Award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement, quality and effectiveness of state relations on behalf of a higher education institution or state system. Recipients have primary long-term responsibility for state relations at their institution or system and have a proven track record of accomplishment.
The award is named in honor of the late Marvin D. "Swede" Johnson, a longtime director of state government relations at the universities of Arizona and New Mexico. The recipient receives a crystal award at the annual Higher Education Government Relations Conference, which will be held this year in December in New Orleans.
Burkey, who has served at Western since 2005, is retiring on Oct. 10. She will be succeeded by Becca Kenna-Schenk, who is now director of government relations at Western.
Swan said that Burkey has been extremely effective in Olympia while advocating for Western and higher education with the Legislature, Governor and other agencies. When the recent severe economic recession prompted the Legislature to make deep funding cuts to state higher education, Burkey’s strong efforts helped offset what would have been significantly deeper cuts to both Western and higher education.
Burkey’s leadership helped secure legislative funding to establish Western’s cutting-edge Behavorial Neuroscience program and Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center (AMSEC) at Western. Burkey also was instrumental in helping Western obtain legislative funding to transition Engineering Technology programs to fully accredited engineering and new state investment to increase the number of WWU computer science graduates. Burkey also led the effort to narrow the FTE student funding gap between Western and other public universities in the state.
A graduate of the University of Washington, Burkey worked for more than 20 years at the University of Washington in Seattle as director of Government Relations and for University of Washington Medicine as director of External Affairs. She also worked in Washington D.C. on the staffs of Washington State U.S. Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, and Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.




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