On September 1, 2000, Eastern Washington University’s Executive Vice-Provost, Robert Herold, retired. Herold has spent 31 years teaching and has been associated with numerous government activities.
“I will miss many people,” Herold says, “It’s been a treat working with them.”
Herold was born in Boston and has lived in California, Washington D.C., and Washington State. He majored in political science with a minor in history. His graduate work completed at George Washington University. He started teaching at Eastern’s Government department in July of 1969. He took a leave of absence in 1977 to work as a budget officer for the Secretary of Defense under the Brown administration. From 1980-1981, Herold did research for the National Ocean Survey. The following year he went to Virginia with a grant in the National Endowment for Humanities.
In 1989, the President of EWU, Marshall Drummond, asked Herold to take over Summer Session. Herold accepted responsibility for the floundering program. Determined to make improvements, he called Portland State to ask Summer Session “legend,” Charlie White, for advice. White came to Washington and told Herold that he was in a great position. He had nowhere to go but up. White frankly claimed that Eastern had the second worst program that he had ever seen. He indicated that the Summer Session’s publications were negative. His first advice was to create a better way to approach students.
Herold’s response to the advice was to not cancel classes due to low enrollment. Herold vowed that, even if there were one student per class, he would never cancel a class. The other issue that Herold changed was to give faculty full pay for contact hours, regardless of enrollment numbers.
In the fall of 1989, Herold admits to being scared to death. Drummond supported Herold’s changes, but the board was nervous. Fortunately, Herold’s good sense paid off. Summer Session has been a success, and classes have never been cancelled because of low enrollment from 1989-2000.
“Summer Session has been a joy,” Herold proclaims.
In 1992, Drummond assigned another project to him. This time, Herold was to be in charge of the fledgling EWU Press. Herold approached an Eastern professor of writing and published author, James McAuley, in regards to becoming the director for the Press. McAuley agreed to the position, and the two began working on a five-year plan for the Press. As a result, in 1994 the Dictionary of Literary Biography ranked the EWU Press 7th in the United States for small university presses. Herold marvels that a university of Eastern’s size achieved that status, which rated over Princeton. He says they are fortunate to be supported and, in turn, support the Creative Writing program at Eastern. When McAuley retired, Christopher Howell was chosen as the Press’ director.
“When Jim left, I was petrified,” admits Herold, “but Chris is a peach. He is wonderful.”
Herold was given the position of Executive Vice-Provost in 1995 when Drummond requested him to oversee programs in Spokane. He was appointed to the Higher Education Joint Center Board and asked to act as a counterweight to WSU’s Campus Dean, Bill Gray. During the merger issue in 1997, WSU gained sole control over the Board. Even though Herold no longer worked in Spokane, or on the Board, he kept the title of Executive Vice-Provost.
Since his retirement, Herold has found time to pursue his hobbies of golfing, reading, writing, and city politics. He is avidly immersed in the latter. He writes political columns for the Inlander and he also has a spot on radio station 91.1 KPBX every other Tuesday morning for a brief political commentary. Herold is aiding Gonzaga’s head, Robert Spitzer, with a project. Last November, he was appointed to the Spokane City Planning Commission.
“There are all kinds of stuff to keep you occupied after retirement,” Herold states, “When you retire, you get some of the answers to your questions, rather than getting the answers before retiring.”