News from The New England Board of Higher Education

Panagiotakos to be honored with New England Higher Education Excellence Award

Contact: John O. Harney, 617-357-9620 ext. 101 or

Jan. 7, 2011

Boston- The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) will honor former Massachusetts state Sen. Steven C. Panagiotakos at its ninth annual New England Higher Education Excellence Awards celebration to be held Friday, March 11, 2011, at the Long Wharf Marriott Hotel in Boston, Mass. More than 500 people will attend this event, including leaders of education, business and government from across the six New England states.

Each year, NEBHE presents Regional Excellence Awards to individuals and organizations that have shown exceptional leadership on behalf of higher education and the advancement of educational opportunity, and State Merit Awards to honor the innovative work of organizations, institutions or individuals in each New England state.

Former Sen. Panagiotakos is the recipient of the 2011 Massachusetts State Merit Award, which honors an individual who has made significant contributions to higher education in his or her state.

The Lowell, Mass. Democrat did not seek reelection last year.

Known among his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate as a champion for strengthening public higher education, he served as co-chair of the Senate Task Force on Public Higher Education in 2004-05, co-authoring the first study on the public higher education system in decades. His leadership also resulted in unprecedented state investment through increased appropriations and passage of a $2 billion bond bill for capital improvements at the state's public colleges and university system.

As Senate chair for the 2003 Economic Stimulus Package, he was instrumental in establishing the John Adams Innovation Fund and including Nanotechnology Manufacturing as a targeted emerging technology for the fund. This resulted in a $5 million grant to the University of Massachusetts Lowell for a Nanotechnology Manufacturing Center. He also authored legislation to create the Technology, Engineering and Math Science Academy (TEAMS) at UMass Lowell. He served as Senate chairman of the conference committee on the Education Reform Act of 2010, which lifted the spending cap on charter schools, created innovation schools and put forth a process for turning around underperforming schools. 

"Senator Panagiotakos has been a highly effective legislator who has understood the relationship of higher education to economic well-being," said NEBHE President and CEO Michael K. Thomas. 

Additional information about NEBHE's New England Higher Education Excellence Awards is available online at

NEBHE is a congressionally authorized, six-state agency whose mission is to promote greater educational opportunities and services for residents of New England. NEBHE programs are principally focused on the relationship between New England higher education and regional economic development.

 New England Board of Higher Education