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Contact: Office of Institutional
Research and Assessment - 208/792-2065
Planner is Well-Prepared for Challenging Role
Chet Herbst has a job almost as big as his title: He's Lewis-Clark State College's
Special Assistant to the President for Planning and the Interim Director of Institutional
Research and Assessment. After watching his presentations, talking to him and learning
about his background and skills, one comes away knowing he's well equipped for the job.
A look at LCSC's newly stated vision and goals helps one understand the scope of the job
he holds: What has come to be called the "strategic triad" is an important focus
in President Dene Thomas' administration and Herbst is right in the middle. Thomas coined
the term to describe the three kinds of programs the college offers students and the
larger community-namely, its four-year bachelor's programs, its professional and technical
training programs, and its community college and community service functions.
Herbst believes this three-part identity makes LCSC unique in Idaho higher education and
gives it distinct advantages. He believes the three-dimensional approach to education,
combined with great opportunities for hands-on, active learning as factors behind LCSC's
ability to engage an entire community. "This college is not an 'ivory tower'
institution; it can easily function as a tightly-knit, mutually-supporting team to best
meet the needs of students and the entire community," he explains.
He feels those three facets and LCSC's small size lend themselves well to Thomas' team
effort operating style. He describes that style as: "identify the direction we need
to go and then rely on the initiative and creativity of the people who directly serve our
students and other customers." Herbst believes the secret to successful planning and
execution of LCSC's mission is this kind of small team leadership, and feels the college
is well on its way in that direction.
Herbst helps implement that strategy. "An immediate task for me is to help the
college grapple with recent state-imposed budget holdbacks." He says he's working
with the president and others to identify LCSC's strengths. "We look for ways to
preserve program quality and exploit opportunities for new programs or courses."
Herbst sums the effort this way: "Over the long term, my job will be to help the
college leadership stay focused on the programs that are core to our values, our long-term
vision and three-fold mission, and to keep these programs firmly linked with the planning
and budgeting process."
He adds that finding ways to "streamline, revamp and update our organizational
structure relative to those strengths," is another important focus. "I'm working
to 'get our arms around assessment;' which means I set up mechanisms to assess programs
and get feedback from students and the community more quickly," he said. Accordingly,
Herbst is also involved with internal institutional reporting, compiling the data and
reports required to measure "institutional health."
When asked if he thinks his job is unique, Herbst says he thinks so. "Other
institutional research outfits in the state might keep their fingers on the pulse of how a
school's running, or assess how students are doing, or focus on planning. At LCSC, all
three of these subjects are incorporated into one job-it's rewarding to work with all the
components," he explains. "These areas need to function hand-in-hand for overall
effectiveness," he continued, "and it's advantageous for one person on campus to
have a clear view of all of them."
Herbst' professional background is military, a fact hinted at by his manner and physical
fitness. He's a former fighter pilot and a retired Air Force Colonel who, until last
summer, served as the Commander and Chair of Air Force ROTC studies at both the University
of Idaho and Washington State University. He built the Air Force Officer Education program
at WSU into one of the top ten in the nation. He's also had many opportunities to draw
upon his experience and survival skills in diplomatic assignments in the
political-military arena in overseas assignments.
How did he make the LCSC connection? During her tenure as Vice Provost at the UI, Dene
Thomas became acquainted with Herbst and his abilities. Soon after taking office as LCSC's
new president in July 2001, she realized she needed a talented planner and organizer to
help her guide the college. She invited him to join her administration and he decided this
was a challenge he'd enjoy. Herbst assumed his challenging role in October.
He and his wife Carol still live in Moscow, where she teaches the elementary and junior
high schools' stringed instruments program. They have three grown children: two sons who
have graduated from college and now live and work in California, and a daughter who is
studying chemical engineering at the UI.
Busy as he is, Herbst does have avocations he enjoys in his "several nanoseconds of
spare time." He and his wife are members of the Washington-Idaho Symphony-in which
she plays stringed instruments and he's a trombone player. He is adjunct faculty at WSU,
where he teaches an honors program called "The Armed Forces in U.S. Society,"
and participates in domestic and international policy forums with the Foley Institute at
WSU and the Martin Institute at the UI.
When asked what he likes about his new job, he says, "It's very rewarding to be where
I can use my planning, diplomatic and fighter pilot survival skills on a daily
basis." And he unhesitatingly praises coworkers: "The best part of the job is
working with President Thomas and all the great people who make up the LCSC family. The
potential here is tremendous. It's exciting to be a part of the team tapping that
potential, setting our sights, and re-committing ourselves to change lives and make a real