Jeffrey Herbst named 16th president of Colgate

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Colgate University’s Board of Trustees has unanimously approved the appointment of Jeffrey Herbst, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University (Ohio), as Colgate’s 16th president. The board has announced Herbst’s appointment to the Colgate community and will welcome him to campus at an event scheduled for 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17. The event also will be broadcast live on the web at

Herbst, 48, will take office in the summer of 2010 when he will succeed Interim President Dr. Lyle Roelofs, who assumed that role following the departure of Colgate’s 15th president Dr. Rebecca Chopp, who is now president of Swarthmore College.

“Jeffrey Herbst articulated a vision for the liberal arts at a time when all of higher education is going through a period of reflection and readjustment,” said Christopher Clifford ’67, chair of Colgate’s Board of Trustees. “Based on his knowledge of Colgate’s mission and strategic direction, Jeff conveyed to the search committee his confidence in the university’s ability to thrive in an ever more global, diverse, and interconnected world. We are confident that Jeff will build on Colgate’s strengths and engage our community in exciting new efforts to strengthen our position as a leader in higher education.”

“I am deeply honored to be appointed the 16th president of Colgate. The university exemplifies the very best in a liberal arts university at a time when our society is searching for answers that only this type of learning experience can provide. I look forward to working with the Board of Trustees, faculty, students, staff, and alumni to promote this extraordinary community of scholars and to prepare students for the great challenges of the twenty-first century,” said Herbst.

Jeffrey Herbst comes to Colgate after serving for five years as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami (OH) University. (Photo by Andy Daddio)

“I congratulate Colgate on the appointment of Jeffrey Herbst as its new president,” said Dr. William Bowen, president emeritus of the Mellon Foundation and former president of Princeton University. “I worked closely with Jeff when he was at Princeton so I know first-hand how capable he is — as a scholar, as a teacher, and as a highly collegial leader. This is, in my view, a stellar appointment.”

Herbst comes to Colgate after serving for five years as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University in Ohio. While at Miami, Herbst promoted internationalization by broadening the curriculum and expanding opportunities for study abroad, led efforts to increase access for students of limited means, promoted integrity on campus, and expanded the university’s outreach efforts in the community.

He also strengthened Miami’s long-standing commitment to undergraduate teaching and the liberal arts core and helped design the Miami Access Initiative, a program that provides all tuition and fees for students from families of limited means that has significantly increased socioeconomic diversity on campus. He worked with Miami’s admission office to attract an unprecedented number of African-American applicants, raise the number of students from multicultural backgrounds to new highs, and increase the number of international students on campus several fold.

“Jeff is a person with deep personal values and a great appreciation of a liberal education and an excellent understanding of the changing nature of higher education,” said Dr. David Hodge, president of Miami University. “He will be a tireless advocate for the university and its alumni, deeply engaged with everyone connected to Colgate. I wish him and Colgate University the very best.”

Before his move to Miami, Herbst was on the faculty at Princeton University, where he also held a number of administrative positions including chair of the Department of Politics, director of the African Studies Program, chair of the faculty committee on study abroad, and acting associate dean of the Woodrow Wilson School.

“Jeff is an inspired choice to lead Colgate University,” said Dr. Christina Paxson, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School and Hughes-Rogers Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. “He is deeply committed to undergraduate education, and appreciates the important role of faculty research and scholarship in a liberal arts education. Jeff also has boundless energy and enthusiasm. I expect his expertise in African politics, and his experience in a school of public and international affairs while at Princeton, will be valuable given Colgate’s emphasis on global and local community involvement.”

A political scientist, Herbst’s extensive research and teaching expertise focused on the politics of sub-Saharan Africa, including peacekeeping, how the United States can promote democratic liberalization in Africa, and what the international community can do to further economic growth in less developed regions of the world. 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. He is also the author of, among others, New Order in Sight? The African Union, NEPAD, and the Future of a Continent (with Greg Mills, International Institute of Strategic Studies), and articles in Comparative Politics, Foreign Affairs,, International Organization, and International Security.

Herbst has been on the faculties of the University of Zimbabwe; University of Ghana, Legon; University of Cape Town; and University of the Western Cape. He has received two Fulbright scholarships (for study in Zimbabwe and South Africa) and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim foundation.

“Beyond his proven administrative talents and preeminence as a scholar, I was impressed with Jeffrey Herbst’s creative vision for liberal arts education in a highly competitive and increasingly globalized environment,” said Dr. Damhnait McHugh, search committee member and professor of biology and director of Colgate’s Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute. “He was a natural choice as the next leader for Colgate.”

“Jeffrey Herbst stood out among the other candidates not only for his high academic achievements, administrative positions held and successes, and understanding of leadership in the 21st century, but more so for his vision for Colgate University as a leading institution in a globalized 21st century,” said Dr. John Palmer, associate professor of educational studies at Colgate. “He viewed the plethora of issues related to the internationalization of leading liberal arts campuses as positives and has developed insight into which Colgate will be able to take advantage of internationalization of higher education locally and globally. When he spoke of his vision, I was both intrigued by his depth of understanding of globalization and international as it relates to Colgate University and energized to follow him in his efforts to bring the world to Colgate.

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