Jaimie Hebert announced as next GS president

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Blakeley Bartee

This summer, Jaimie Hebert, current provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sam Houston State University (SHSU), will assume his role as the 13th Georgia Southern University president.

After earning a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Hebert began his career in higher education as an assistant professor of mathematical science at Appalachian State University, according to his curriculum vita.

Hebert introduced himself to GSU students and faculty at his March 10 open forum, where he mentioned his opposition to the campus carry bill and his support of study abroad programs. He also explained his position on supporting athletics.

“I see value in athletics [at a university]… It matches with our societal expectations. Students expect [to have athletic events],” Hebert said at the forum. “You cannot afford the marketing exposure that athletics have brought to your institution… But [we have to ask] whether or not there’s a law of diminishing returns [in the advantages of expanding athletics].”

At the forum, Hebert also addressed the need for diversity on college campuses, the underrepresentation of African-Americans at GSU, campus sustainability and the importance of investing in each student’s success.

“Being a student-centered university means every faculty member feels a deep, core passion about the success of a student,” Hebert said.

Hebert’s open forum, the fifth and final forum in the series of presidential candidate visits, left a positive impression for students and faculty.

“I feel really good [about Hebert]… He was very confident in what he believed and his personal opinions on how he should run the university and that they reflect exactly what Georgia Southern already is, so I think he would be a great choice,” Matheus Rocha, graduate student of music technology, said after the forum.

Jean Bartels, current interim president at GS, is excited about Hebert and expects him to do a very good job.

“I think he has a very good understanding about how universities work and I’ll say he is very committed,” Bartels said.

Bartels recently attended a conference in which a Dean from Sam Houston State University approached her and told her how they felt about Hebert. Bartels feels that showed how many people like Hebert at SHSU.

“That tells you more than anything, to have faculty, staff and students who are that really liked him that well. He has a great sense of humor,” Bartels said. “He is very easy to talk to, very easy to get to know and he has a lot of energy. I think he is going to be a very good addition to Georgia Southern.”

Hebert’s current place of employment, SHSU, is the 12th largest university in Texas and is classified as a doctoral research university, according to the SHSU website. The school supports seven men’s teams and ten women’s teams in NCAA-sanctioned sports, all represented by the Bearkat mascot.

“[During] my time as Student Body President it has been a privilege that Dr. Hebert was Sam Houston State Universities Provost. I have not worked with Dr. Hebert much, but he has always been a very approachable guy with a great sense of school spirit and pride in his university,” Phillip Lund, president of the SHSU student government association, said in an email.

Lund adds that a lot of people at SHSU admire Hebert and hopes Georgia Southern students do as well when he becomes the university president.

“I dare anybody to try and find a student at SHSU who is not at the same time upset and happy that Dr. Hebert is leaving us, upset because he is moving away from his Bearkat family but happy because we had the opportunity to have a great man in leadership at Sam Houston State University,” Lund said in an email. “I am also confident that Dr. Hebert will transfer the passion and enthusiasm that he has had here at Sam to Georgia Southern.”

According to a GSU press release, Hebert is expected to assume his position as the new president on July 1, 2016 and leave SHSU behind.