May 3, 2007
Herbert praised as 'warm and humane': Outgoing IU president honored with medal at reception
by Steve Hinnefeld
Indiana University celebrated Adam Herbert's tenure as president Wednesday with trustees and administrators praising him as a leader of warmth and graciousness who made important changes at IU.
"Adam W. Herbert has made a real difference in Indiana University and leaves it a better place than he found it," said Steve Ferguson, president of the board of trustees.
Herbert will step down July 1 after three years and 11 months on the job. Michael McRobbie, now the IU Bloomington provost and vice president for academic affairs, will take over as president.
Wednesday, university officials toasted Herbert and his wife, Karen, and announced that the Hoosier Presidential Scholars program would be named for Herbert. Trustees awarded him the University Medal, IU's highest non-academic award.
"Karen and I will always -- will always -- be proud that we're members of the Indiana University family," Herbert told a crowd of several hundred people.
For over an hour, well-wishers stood in a reception line that moved ever so slowly as Herbert, IU's first African-American president, treated each person to his trademark greeting: hand on your shoulder, eyes locked on yours, asking deeply felt questions about your work, family or interests.
Astrid Merget, dean of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, in which Herbert is a professor, said he brought to the presidency the discipline's approach, with a focus on organizational structures and processes.
"You have served this university as a public administrator par excellence," she told him.
But University Chancellor Ken Gros Louis, who acted as master of ceremonies Wednesday, said it was Herbert's "enormous" personal warmth that stood out when they met in 2003.
"Warm and humane -- that is what I treasured then and treasure now about Adam," he said.
Several speakers referred to Herbert's graciousness when, in late 2005, Bloomington faculty criticized his leadership style as distant and overly cautious. Herbert said in January 2006 that he would step down when his successor was chosen. He will remain an IU administrator until his contract ends in June 2008, undertaking projects at the direction of the trustees.
Ferguson said "you would have liked to have had a longer tenure," but Herbert aggressively and successfully tackled a to-do list that trustees gave him when he was hired.
He helped define regional-campus missions, got faculty to agree to general-education requirements, improved credit-transfer options between campuses and with Ivy Tech Community College, improved internal operations and eliminated a budget deficit in the athletics department.
"This list goes on," Ferguson said.