I admit, I was intimidated at the thought of interviewing Dr. Robert Herron, our new Vice President for Academic Affairs. He holds a doctorate in Religious Studies from Rice University, for which he spent time studying in Tübingen, Germany. He taught for 14 years as a professor, and then entered academic administration, building an impressive record as an expert in growing academic programs. Knowing all of this, I paused and took a deep breath before stepping inside his office.
Walking in, I noticed framed certificates on his wall. Then I noticed something else — a tan Havana hat hanging next to a beautifully framed picture of his family.
Herron sat dressed in a black suit and tie behind a large wooden desk. Noticing me, he stood up, smiled graciously, shook my hand, and welcomed me with a warm Louisiana accent.
My intimidation faded away.
Before I could ask a question, he began to ask me about myself, my school activities and my family. As I spoke, I noticed he was sincerely listening. As busy as he must be, it seemed as if he was honestly interested in what I shared.
When it was my turn to ask questions, I learned more about Herron’s previous experience as an academic administrator. Most recently he served on the President’s Executive Council for Trinity International University. Prior to that, he helped engineer the greatest expansion of academic programs in the history of Southeastern University in Florida. I learned he came to do something very similar here. Foremost on his agenda at OKWU is to lead an expansion of academic programs.
While his history shows he is the right man for this task, Dr. Herron said he was attracted to OKWU because of the vision the school stands for.
“Oklahoma Wesleyan’s mission and vision are the clearest and purest of any Christian college,” he said.
I could feel Herron’s excitement as he explained how he was working closely with President Piper and the Administrative Cabinet to enhance and develop current OKWU programs, even while preparing to launch new programs.
“Our goal is to provide the best, most up-to-date educational experience possible,” he said.
As we continued talking, I asked questions about life outside of academia. Happy to go there, he picked up a framed picture of his family. He and his wife, Diane, have been married for 34 years. She was his college sweetheart. Each year they celebrate not only their marriage, but the anniversary of their first kiss. They are proud parents of two children, a son who is an attorney in Virginia and a daughter who lives in Chicago.
I learned about his Ford-150 crew cab King Ranch truck. When I asked him why he chose such a huge truck, he responded that it shows he has “good taste” in vehicles. I asked about the hat on the wall and learned it serves simply as protection from the sun.
I also learned that the Herron’s are eager to connect with students and with campus life. They enjoy spending time on campus and can often be found eating in the cafeteria or worshiping in chapel.
As I wrapped up the interview, we stood and shook hands. With a friendly smile, he told me to come back if I ever needed anything. I believed he meant it.