McNeese State University President Robert Hebert announced today that he would retire as president effective June 30.
In his letter to Dr. Randy Moffett, president of the University of Louisiana System, Hebert said, “At that time, I will conclude 41 years at the university, including 23 years as president.”
“I am very honored to have served for so many years, and I leave with a strong sense of satisfaction and peace. I am one of those fortunate people who made the right choices about my life’s work, especially when I chose to return to Louisiana in 1969.”
McNeese is one of eight universities in the University of Louisiana System. According to ULS Board Policy, the ULS will conduct a national, open search for a new McNeese chief executive. The ULS board meets Friday in Baton Rouge.
He was selected as the fifth McNeese president in 1987, succeeding Dr. Jack Doland. In 1989, on the university’s 50th anniversary, Hebert formally adopted the motto “Excellence with a Personal Touch!” for McNeese State University. Hebert said all McNeese decisions and goals revolve around four core values: a commitment to academics; student success; fiscal responsibility; and university/community linkages.
During his tenure as president, Hebert initiated selective admissions in 2000 that led to higher average ACT scores for incoming students, improved student retention rates and 14 consecutive enrollment increases including an all-time record of 8,992 in fall 2005.
He supervised numerous campus construction and renovation projects including Hardtner Hall, new residence halls, the addition to Frasch Hall and the nearly completed addition to the Shearman Fine Arts Center.
Hebert has also worked to improve and enhance the university’s private fundraising. When he became president in 1987, the assets of the McNeese Foundation were less than $1 million. “Today the assets are over $55 million and growing,” Hebert said. “Private donors have been instrumental in providing needed academic scholarships and faculty enhancement incentives that keep McNeese competitive in recruiting and retaining students and outstanding faculty.”
A 2008 economic impact report conducted for the ULS by Applied Technology Research Corporation of Baton Rouge showed McNeese is one of the largest employers in Southwest Louisiana and has an annual statewide financial impact of $335 million. “This is an $8 return for every $1 Louisiana invests in McNeese,” Hebert said. “In addition, the university’s commitment to its educational and cultural mission is also strong.”
Hebert was instrumental in the creation and development of the Banners Cultural Series that will celebrate 18 years this spring.
He also worked to negotiate a partnership with the SWLA Economic Development Alliance, Calcasieu Parish and the city of Lake Charles to locate the Southwest Louisiana Entrepreneurial and Economic Development Center on McNeese property. The SEED Center project recently received a $3.9 million economic department administration grant.
This economic impact study also profiles the importance of McNeese State University to the entire state of Louisiana in dollar figures. McNeese employees and students live in cities and communities throughout Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jefferson Davis parishes. What cannot be calculated is the human factor and the invaluable contributions that McNeese employees, students, alumni and retirees make to their communities through their civic and volunteer activities.
“McNeese State University has flourished under President Hebert’s distinguished leadership. From instituting the Banners Cultural Series to strengthening vital links between the university and area industries, McNeese serves as a cultural and intellectual hub of Southwest Louisiana. The University of Louisiana System is thankful for President Hebert’s service,” said University of Louisiana System President Randy Moffett.
Hebert joined the McNeese faculty as an associate professor of history. Prior to coming to McNeese, he taught for seven years at Mississippi State University.
He served as vice president of academic affairs from 1980 to 1987. Prior to that, he was the Director of Basic Studies, chairman of the University Curriculum Committee, president of the Faculty Senate and a professor in the Department of History.
His field of specialization is modern European history and international relations. He holds doctorate and master’s degrees from Florida State University. His bachelor’s degree is from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
He is a native of Abbeville and is married to the former Lilly Ann Vincent of Henry. They have four sons-Greg, Chris, Gerry and Edward, all completed undergraduate degrees at McNeese and all are medical school graduates.
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