McNeese, community mourns loss of Dr. Robert Hebert

McNeese, community mourns loss of Dr. Robert Hebert

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - It's a sad time at McNeese State University and Southwest Louisiana, where many people  are mourning the death of retired long time president Dr. Robert Hebert.

Hebert died earlier this week of a brain hemorrhage while vacationing in Italy. He leaves behind a rich life and legacy.

Those who knew him best say Bob Hebert bled blue and gold and this blue - and-gold ribbon around his live oak - is no doubt just the first of many remembrances of him  to come.

This majestic oak is but one example of what Hebert leaves behind. It's one of the "endowed oaks" that were once in jeopardy, but now receive perpetual care thanks to his efforts.

"We got together with a couple of faculty members and Bob was very instrumental in it.  We didn't want those oak trees to be cut down and so we started endowing oak trees and from that, we've endowed about 200 of the so far."

But Richard Reid, McNeese's vice president for university advancement, said Hebert's lasting legacy stems  from his vision for the university.

"We manage endowed scholarships, endowed professorships. You can even endow a professorship so that they can get equipment and do conferences and things of that nature. We started out with about $800,000 and now we're $70 million," he said.

Reid said there are many buildings and improvements at McNeese that  Hebert had a hand in - from the College of Nursing building to the SEED Center.

"He got together with the Chamber of Commerce, the parish, the state, the U.S. government and they built the SEED Center for an entrepreneurial research center," he said.

Joyce Patterson, McNeese's director of alumni affairs, said Hebert's dedication went far beyond what many realize.

"He was very good at getting good faculty and recruiting good faculty and I think that helped with the quality of students and the  alumni that we have today because of the education they got here at McNeese," she said.

Former State Representative Vic Stelly, who also served on the Louisiana Board of Regents, also knew Hebert well.

He said Hebert always did McNeese proud.

"He bled blue and gold for McNeese. He was a great ambassador for McNeese; all the years he was here, McNeese was first and everything else was second and as a result, he had a great reputation in Baton Rouge. Anything that I served on - when I said something about McNeese, there was something to be proud of and Dr. Hebert was instrumental in that," he said.

Before he was president, McNeese officials said Hebert was one of the university's most well-loved professors. Hebert was at McNeese 41 years - 23 of which were as president.

Reid can't help but smile knowing Hebert died traveling -  which he loved.

Funeral arrangements are pending his return home.

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