President Jeffrey Herbst of Colgate University Skip Navigation

President Jeffrey Herbst

Since becoming Colgate’s 16th president in 2010, Jeffrey Herbst has launched a transformational effort to build the university’s financial aid resources.

Colgate University and the Association of Critical Collegians

September 26, 2014 - The peaceful demonstration in support of inclusivity on Colgate’s campus has come to a mutually agreeable resolution, as members of the administration and the Colgate University Association for Critical Collegians (ACC) released a 21-point roadmap for the future.


Recent News

President Herbst Attends College for Every Student Conference
President Herbst joined a special panel Saturday, November 8 to discuss the film Ivory Tower at the College For Every Student: One Million More National Conference in Burlington, Vermont. The panel included film Producer/Director Andrew Rossi, Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger, and College for Every Student Program Director Leroy Nesbitt, to share their thoughts on the future of higher education in the context of the film.

Learn more about the work of the College for Every Student, and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #1MilMore.

Message regarding sexual respect: September 2014
President Herbst, Provost and Dean of the Faculty Douglas Hicks, and Dean of the College Suzy Nelson communicated a joint statement to all students and parents clearly stating Colgate’s zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault, misconduct, and harassment. The message also reiterated the link between excessive drinking and negative consequences such as unwanted sexual contact and assault, and outlined some of the ways that Colgate is actively educating students about issues of sexual violence. READ MORE

Review: Innovation and Disruption in Higher Education
After Clayton Christensen predicted that half of higher education institutions will either be facing bankruptcy or in liquidation within 10 to 15 years, six liberal arts presidents expressed varying degrees of concern, ranging from “no­t worried” (Georgia Nugent, president emeritus of Kenyon College) to “only the paranoid survive” (Colgate President Jeffrey Herbst). READ MORE - WATCH VIDEO

Africa's deadliest war enters new phase in Congo

A noted scholar of Africa, President Herbst was called upon by the USA Today to add insights into an article on the ongoing war in Congo. He noted that the basic problem in Congo is a lack of a strong, accepted authority over its people. READ MORE

The World Bank’s Diminishing Role in Africa

In this New York Times op-ed from July 11th, 2013, President Herbst and Greg Mills argue about the diminishing role of the World Bank by focusing on two recent events. READ MORE

Congo Doesn't Really Exist. 
Chicago Tribune, July 3rd, 2013: "The international community needs to recognize a simple, albeit brutal fact: The Democratic Republic of the Congo does not exist. All of the peacekeeping missions, special envoys, interagency processes and diplomatic initiatives that are predicated on the Congo myth — the notion that one sovereign power is present in this vast country — are doomed to fail. It is time to stop pretending otherwise." We wrote those words four years ago...

Africa's Third Liberation: The New Search for Prosperity and Jobs
President Herbst was involved in a panel at the Cato Institute. VIEW EVENT

Book cover of Africa's Third LiberationBetween 2000 and 2010, six of the ten fastest-growing economies worldwide were African. In a new book, President Herbst and Greg Mills examine what means are best to match political liberalization with growth. READ MORE

President co-edits highly praised book on 'fault lines'
President Herbst is the co-editor of On the Fault Line: Managing Tensions and Divisions Within Societies, published March 1, 2012. The book has received high praise from people such as Henry Kissinger and F. W. de Klerk.  READ MORE

President Herbst co-authors NYT op-ed
The July 29, 2012 edition of The New York Times featured an op-ed by President Herbst and Greg Mills, director of the Brenthurst Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two have collaborated on a number of publications analyzing economic conditions in Africa.  READ MORE


President Herbst came to Colgate after serving for five years as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University. Before his move to Miami, Herbst was on the faculty at Princeton University, where he also held a number of administrative positions.

A political scientist, Herbst's extensive research and teaching expertise focuses on the politics of sub-Saharan Africa. He is the author of several books and articles, including States and Power in Africa (Princeton University Press, 2000), co-winner of the Gregory Luebbert Best Book Award from the Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

Born in Jamaica, Queens, N.Y., Herbst graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1983 and went on to earn MA, MPhil and PhD degrees in political science from Yale University. He and his wife, Sharon Polansky, a marketing executive, have three children.

Need-Blind Initiative

Colgate meets 100% of its students' demonstrated financial need, but it is not yet able to make need-blind admission decisions. President Herbst's need-blind initiative is intended to ensure that high school students who are academically qualified but not financially able can enroll at Colgate.

"Denying admission based on financial qualifications has a profound influence on Colgate and on the world outside its gates," Herbst told a recent gathering of alumni, students, and friends.

“The best way to ensure our health as an institution for decades to come is to make sure we can admit the outstanding students who are already applying to us,” he said. “Given the challenges we face today, I think our society needs those Colgate-educated students.”

Along with bolstering financial aid resources, Herbst has been dedicated to better highlighting the excellence of the faculty and — unlike many peer institutions — increasing the number of tenure-track positions in departments across campus.  READ MORE