News Herman Gc President Emeritus Dies - Garrett College
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Campus News

July 4th, 2024

Herman, GC president emeritus, dies

Educator served nearly two decades as Garrett College's president

dr stephen herman

Easthampton, MA – Dr. Stephen J. Herman – Garrett College's longest-serving president – passed away last Monday. Herman, who was GC's president from 1986 to 2006, was 85.

"Dr. Herman was an influential and inspiring leader in the Garrett County community, well respected by all who had the privilege of knowing him," said Jason Rush, chair of the Garrett College Board of Trustees. "His contributions to the college and his impactful programs have left a lasting legacy that will continue to benefit our students and community for years to come. His dedication and passion for education will be greatly missed."

"Steve was probably the single most instrumental person in establishing the College and launching it to where we are today," said Garrett College Trustee Duane Yoder, who joined the Board of Trustees in 2006.

"Dr. Herman was a driving force in making Garrett College a viable and vibrant institution of higher learning," said Paul Edwards, chair of the Garrett County Commissioners. "We are all indebted to his leadership in helping to create our college."

Dr. Richard Midcap, Garrett College's current president, characterized Dr. Herman as "the most consequential president in Garrett College's history."

"Dr. Herman dealt head-on with serious issues that have sunk institutions with lesser leadership, including financial sustainability and accreditation challenges," said Midcap. "Even more impressive, he knew the issues the College faced before accepting the presidency – and still made the decision to come here."

Dr. Herman, in a recent interview, recalled his thought process in deciding to accept the Garrett College presidency.

"I wanted to be part of a college that was looking to rebuild and see if my ideas could work in a way that facilitated recovery of the institution," said Dr. Herman, who spent a decade as dean of students at Quinebaug Valley (CN) Community College prior to accepting the Garrett College presidency. "Garrett College was perfectly made for this. It was as close to extinction without being truly extinct as any institution I had encountered.

"By many people's lights, it was simply too small to be sustainable in an isolated rural community of 30,000 people," added Herman, who earned a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts. "But while it was seriously in trouble, it enjoyed strong emotional support from the community."

"Dr. Herman's passion for offering excellence in higher education became an inspiration to faculty and staff in serving all students," said Dr. Lillian Mitchell, dean emeritus of academic and student affairs. "He will be remembered for his brilliance, his sense of humor, and his commitment to serving our community."

Besides shoring up the College's finances and accreditation status, Dr. Herman worked closely with then-Garrett County Economic Development Director Jim Hinebaugh to develop the Garrett County Scholarship Program. That program, still in existence today, was one of the first "free community college" programs in the nation.

"Dr. Herman was a visionary and critical to the County's efforts to enhance the local economy through improved educational development and skill base development," said Hinebaugh, who now serves in the Maryland House of Delegates.

"He was instrumental in the development and implementation of the County's scholarship program, which provides free tuition at GC for new county high school graduates," continued Hinebaugh. "The County and GC continue to reap the benefits of Dr. Herman's work. He was a great ally and a true friend."

Dr. Herman and his wife, Dr. Gail Herman, were also instrumental in starting Garrett College's international student program. While the program waned during the COVID pandemic, its enrollment is currently rebounding.

"We're very happy to see this program, which was so near and dear to the Hermans' hearts, enjoying a resurgence," said Midcap.

Dr. Herman was named Garrett College's first – and, to this point, only – President Emeritus in 2011. Garrett College also recently renamed one of its major academic awards for Dr. Herman, awarding the Dr. Stephen J. Herman Leadership & Excellence Award for the first time at this year's annual commencement exercises.

Mitchell noted Dr. Herman's key role in paving the way for the Community Aquatic & Recreation Complex (CARC) and the Performing Arts Center at Garrett College.

"Many years of planning under his leadership went into these projects," noted Mitchell. "Our community can be proud of the resources that are available on this beautiful campus. I would tell him, ‘Great job, Steve.' "

A Celebration and Remembrance for Dr. Herman will take place at 1:30 p.m. on July 27th at the Quaker Meeting House in Northampton, MA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Garrett College Foundation ( to support Garrett College initiatives.