Dr. Jaimie Hebert’s schedule for Friday, his first day as president of Georgia Southern University, includes meeting with his presidential cabinet, touring campus with a student Southern Ambassador, having lunch in the Dining Commons, and an interview with the Statesboro Herald.
Hired in April by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, Hebert was one of five semifinalists for the job who spoke to the public during a series of visits to campus in late February and early March. Then provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, Hebert was the one who talked about public universities as bastions of civility.
“An educated citizenry with skills to perpetuate the advancement of our society, the keepers of humanity and civility, socially responsible, these are the promises we give back to society as products of our institutions,” he said.
Originally from southern Louisiana, Hebert attained his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, all in statistics, at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. His father, the first person in Hebert’s family to graduate from high school, went to Louisiana-Lafayette to become a math teacher and then helped younger siblings obtain their college educations, Hebert said.
After arriving at Sam Houston State as an associate professor of statistics in 1995, Hebert progressed to full professor, department chair, and college dean. He was university provost, ranking just below president, from 2011 until he resigned, effective this month, to take the top job at Georgia Southern.
Here in March, Hebert also talked about trust, “deep communication” and humor as part of his management approach.
“I believe that everyone I work with should have a sense of humor, and I believe I should always have a sense of humor,” he said.
This is probably as good a place as any to point out that the “H” is silent on his last name, which is pronounced like “A-Bear.” Soon, the newspaper will stop reminding people and let readers try it on their own.
A presidential salary
For those wondering how much he gets paid at his new job, the answer is public record. In the Georgia regents’ April 6 offer letter, Chancellor Hank Huckaby stated that Hebert’s annual pay would be $382,800, including a base salary of $350,000, a housing allowance of $19,400 and an additional allowance of $13,400. The university was to provide him $20,000 for moving expenses.
So the president of Statesboro’s largest employer, and of southern Georgia’s largest educational institution by enrollment, is paid a little less than the president of the United States, who rakes in $400,000 annually. But the Georgia Southern job doesn’t come with free White House lodging or Air Force One, and the U.S. president also has additional expense and travel allowances.
The Georgia Southern president’s salary is also a lot less than those at some other University System of Georgia schools.
Dr. Brooks Keel left Georgia Southern last July after five and a half years as its president to become president of what was then Georgia Regents University, now renamed Augusta University. At Augusta University, Keel’s first-year salary was $779,500. He is receiving a 1.5 percent raise effective July 1, making his fiscal year 2017 salary $791,192, and Keel also gets a $15,500 housing allowance, making his total compensation $806,692 for Fiscal Year 2017, according to information obtained from the Board of Regents.
University system officials say the relative status of universities in research and professional programs is a factor in their presidents’ salaries.
Enrollment at Augusta University, with 8,333 students during fall semester 2015, is less than half that at Georgia Southern, which has hovered near 20,500 students for several years.
But the Medical College of Georgia is the oldest component of Augusta University. While more than 85 percent of Georgia Southern’s students are undergraduates, 40 percent of Augusta University students as of last fall were graduate and professional-degree students. Only 4,976 of the 8,333 total were undergrads, according to information on the Augusta University website.
Both are recognized as research universities in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, but Augusta University’s level of research activity is listed as “higher,” while Georgia Southern’s is “moderate.”
No lengthy contracts
Like presidents of other public universities in Georgia, Hebert will serve on a year-to-year basis. He signed the offer letter to accept its terms.
A Georgia Board of Regents policy, included in the board’s October 2013 minutes, states that presidents “shall be elected each year for a term of one (1) year. The Chancellor shall notify them of their appointment, but such presidents shall not be entitled to a written employment contract.”
Dr. Jean Bartels, who served as interim Georgia Southern University president through the 2015-16 academic year, will now return to her previous role as provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Diana Cone, who served as interim provost, will resume her duties as associate provost, according to answers provided by GSU Director of Communications Jennifer Wise.
After the activities listed in the first paragraph, Hebert will spend Friday afternoon in his office getting settled and handling first-day duties, said Wise, who supplied the basic itinerary at the Herald’s request.
Look for the interview in Sunday’s Statesboro Herald.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.