Provost’s death leaves YSU reorganizing

Robert K. Herbert was the
central figure in a number of
campus issues.



YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State University will be spending this week “sorting out” the activities and responsibilities of the provost’s office after the death of Provost Robert K. Herbert.

Herbert drowned Friday while swimming with his daughter and one of his sons in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Costa Rica in Central America. The university received word of his death early Saturday.

Herbert, as the university’s chief academic officer for the past two years, was central to a variety of critical issues for YSU, and some temporary measures will be announced later this week to see that those issues are covered, university President David C. Sweet said.

At the top of the list is YSU’s self-study now under way as part of its 10-year academic reaccreditation process.

Dr. Bege Bowers, associate provost, has had the lead on that project for the last 18 months or so and will continue to administer it, Sweet said.

Herbert was also a YSU representative to the Northeast Ohio Universities Collaboration and Innovation Study Commission, which is looking at higher education practices across Northeast Ohio, and new representation will have to be appointed, Sweet said.

Youngstown Early College, implementation of a new academic strategic plan and the launch of the new College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the new College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, both Herbert projects, are also key issues that will need new administrative assistance, he said.

Graduation present

Herbert had taken his daughter, Veronica, and one of his sons, Ian, on a vacation to Costa Rica as a graduation present for Veronica, valedictorian of her class at Ursuline High School this year, according to one university official.

Herbert’s wife, Dr. Barbara Nykiel-Herbert, an assistant professor in YSU’s English department, was in Taiwan as part of a six-week consulting session with a university there when she learned of her husband’s death.

Sweet said the family intends to bury Herbert in New York, where he grew up on Long Island.

YSU will propose to his wife that a memorial service to celebrate Herbert’s career and his contributions be held on campus at an appropriate time, he said.

In the meantime, the university will continue to focus on its students, “as Bob would have wanted us to do,” Sweet said.

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