California Southern University is pleased to welcome Dr. Gregory D. Herbert to the university as the new dean of the School of Business. Dr. Herbert brings a wealth of experience to the position, having been a professor, curriculum designer, associate dean and dean, with additional experience in accreditation and compliance, as well as student and faculty policy.
Dr. Herbert also has had a long and distinguished career in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel after serving for 22 years. It was in the military that his lifelong love of learning developed. While serving his country, Dr. Herbert earned his BS in mathematics from Florida State University, his MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and his EdD from George Washington University. It was also in the Air Force that Dr. Herbert first worked in higher education, teaching military strategy courses and re-designing the distance-learning curriculum at Air University’s Air Command and Staff College, at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.
We sat down with Dr. Herbert to learn more about his background in the military and in higher education, as well as his vision for CalSouthern’s School of Business.
California Southern University: What was your motivation for initially joining the Air Force?
Dr. Gregory Herbert: Growing up as a part of the baby-boom generation, I always felt a duty to serve my country. Like most kids, I grew up watching all the John Wayne war movies. My dad served in the Navy, as did my brother. All my uncles were in the military. So that sense of duty was always there, even if it wasn’t something that was frequently talked about.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the opportunity to earn a scholarship played a significant part in the decision, as well. I was in the middle of five kids, and my parents were not going to be able to put me through college.
Plus, I always wanted to fly.
CalSouthern: Could you tell us a bit about your military career? Did you get that opportunity to fly?
Dr. Herbert: I did, although it wasn’t exactly the type of flying that I had dreamt about as a kid. I had always fantasized about flying fighters. In the Air Force, I was the radar navigator in a B-52, downstairs in the cabin with no windows. But I loved being part of the crew. You were assigned to a crew of six—you flew with them, sat nuclear alert with them, deployed with them. Needless to say, you got to know these people almost like family, and the relationships I built with them were a highlight of my military career.
I eventually became director of operations for an air support operations squadron where we worked together with the Army, providing close air support for their ground maneuver units. I was able to deploy with the Army in real-world situations, and for somebody who was trained to fly the nuclear mission, it was very exciting, as well as extremely rewarding. It was an experience I’ll never forget and definitely one of the highlights of my career.
CalSouthern: At what point in your military career did you begin to develop an interest in education?
Dr. Herbert: I did quite a bit of training in the Air Force. I went through at least three instructor training schools. I was a navigator training instructor for all military services, I did radar navigator training for the B-52 and I was also was an instructor at the Air Command and Staff College. As I look back, I think these experiences really gave me a passion for higher education, and helped me identify it as my post-military career.
I also was a student throughout my time in the service. I initially pursued my bachelor’s degree so that I could join the Air Force and fly. I earned my MBA primarily to advance my military career. My doctorate was for me; it was something I wanted to do for myself.
CalSouthern: Could you describe the challenge of earning a doctorate as a senior officer in the military?
Dr. Herbert: I completed my coursework in two years, but it took me an additional four to finish my dissertation. While working on my dissertation, I was re-assigned from Virginia to South Carolina and from South Carolina to Alabama. I was deployed to Egypt. I was deployed to Kuwait. It was quite a challenge. I definitely understand what it’s like to be a busy adult in pursuit of an education.
CalSouthern: Why did you choose the Doctor of Education as your doctoral program?
Dr. Herbert: I knew what education had done for me in my life and I wanted to help others follow the same path—I understood the benefits that would accrue to them. And, I was preparing to eventually transition from the military to a civilian job and higher education was what I wanted to do.
CalSouthern: Could you tell us a bit about your post-military career in education?
Dr. Herbert: I came to CalSouthern from Trident University International, where I worked for more than a dozen years, in a variety of different roles. I was a professor, a program director, a student policy director, as well as the associate dean and dean of the Colleges of Business Administration and Information Systems.
I very much enjoyed my time there. Although my specific duties and responsibilities were quite varied, it ultimately came down to helping students succeed and mentoring faculty to be more effective educators and have a broader and more rewarding teaching experience. I found this to be very gratifying.
CalSouthern: What was it about CalSouthern that appealed to you and led you to join the university’s academic staff?
Dr. Herbert: Online education—from a broad perspective—is in its infancy, compared to traditional education. The opportunity is there for institutions like CalSouthern to establish themselves as truly exceptional institutions of higher learning in this area. In fact, I believe that it’s the institutions that started as distance learning schools that will seize the opportunity; they are not stuck in the old paradigm.
When I spoke with the leadership at CalSouthern, it was clear that they share this belief. We are of like mind when it comes to delivering the finest possible educational experience for our students and everyone supports one another in this regard. It’s a great place to work.
CalSouthern: Early in your tenure here at CalSouthern, what do you see as the strengths of the School of Business?
Dr. Herbert: First, the faculty are just wonderful. Their credentials are outstanding and they have such enthusiasm about working with their students. I am extremely pleased with our team of academic advisors, as well. They are dedicated to their work and have a deep knowledge of our programs—they’ve been a great resource for me as I’ve transitioned into the position.
Also, I am impressed with the options our students have, the ways in which they can concentrate or customize their academic programs to match their interests and career goals. I see this as a real strength that we will continue to build upon, so that our learners can take what they learn today and apply it to their careers tomorrow.
CalSouthern: What is your vision for the future of the School of Business?
Dr. Herbert: We will definitely grow the school, and we will do so with a two-pronged approach. We’ll provide our students with the best and most career-relevant education possible, adding new degrees and concentrations that will benefit our learners. But we will do so within the framework of an exceptional learning environment. When students graduate, I want them to reflect upon their time at CalSouthern as an overwhelmingly positive experience that enriched their lives.
You’ll also see more interactive technology integrated into our curriculum, to make the material more compelling and to continue to improve learning outcomes, as well as to make the learning experience more enjoyable. Those of us with a passion for education all understand that learning, at its core, is fun.