Biography of Former President Jeffrey Herbst Skip Navigation

Biography of Jeffrey Herbst

Jeffrey Herbst, an accomplished scholar of international politics and innovative leader in higher education, served as Colgate's president from 2010–2015.
President Jeffrey Herbst
During his tenure as Colgate’s 16th president, Jeffrey Herbst helped the university to complete its historic $480 million Passion for the Climb fundraising campaign and extended its impact in a transformational way by raising an additional $54 million for financial aid. He led the development of the university-wide strategic plan, Living the Liberal Arts in Our Third Century, which will guide Colgate’s future by fostering curricular and pedagogical innovations, creating residential learning communities, and further building and renovating our physical campus. He championed the Class of 1965 Arena opening in 2016, as well as the Center for Art and Culture, and a new center for career services.

Jeffrey Herbst in his academic robesHerbst increased the size of the faculty at a time when many schools were cutting back. He strengthened Colgate’s internationalization and global initiatives, by providing additional financial assistance to students studying abroad, expanding study abroad locations and options, and supporting the mission of the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs. His focus on entrepreneurship led to the creation of Thought Into Action Colgate Entrepreneurs.

Prior to his arrival at Colgate, Herbst served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and professor of political science at Miami University. He was chair of the Department of Politics at Princeton University, where he also earned his BA summa cum laude.

His research focuses on the politics of sub-Saharan Africa. He is author of the award-winning States and Power in Africa and, with co-author Dr. Greg Mills, How South Africa Works and Must Do Better, and Africa’s Third Liberation. A consultant to a variety of international organizations and federal agencies, Herbst has received two Fulbright scholarships and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He earned his MA, MPhil, and PhD degrees in political science from Yale University.

World Affairs Conversations

During his tenure, Herbst invited notable scholars, teachers, and authors into the university’s digital studio to engage in conversations on world affairs..

News and Update Archive

Colgate University and the Association of Critical Collegians
A peaceful demonstration during September, 2014 in support of inclusivity on Colgate’s campus reached 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.

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.
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 - Full Review
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.
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.
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
Book cover of Africa's Third LiberationPresident Herbst was involved in a panel at the Cato Institute. VIEW EVENT

Between 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.
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.
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