School alumnus Bob Herchert has given $7,500 to the KUCIMAT MPA Support Fund, a fund used to finance intern-option MPA student activities. He encourages others to consider a gift as well – to support students with “great opportunities to learn while in school and great careers in local government after.”
As an undergraduate student at KU, majoring in Political Science and Personnel Administration, Herchert became acquainted with many of the faculty who also taught in the MPA program. In particular, he connected with Jim Drury, who led the Personnel Administration program, and Ed Stene.
During his time in the MPA program, Herchert took a class taught by Eldon Fields on the Role of Government in American Society, which had a real impact on him both in terms of course content – it is a topic that generates as much discussion and debate today as it did then – and the fact that Dr. Fields was a stickler for proper English usage. His emphasis on correct writing affects Herchert to this day.
After his first year in the program, Herchert was selected as part of a team that went to Costa Rica in June of 1968 to study state and local government there for three months. He shares that his assignment “was local government and my partner was Walter Broadnax, who studied state government. We shared an apartment in San Jose, Costa Rica that summer and have remained great friends ever since. My wife [Linda] and I were married on June 1 of that year, and I left for Costa Rica about 10 days later. She stayed in Missouri and finished her graduate school work and then came to Costa Rica and shared the apartment with Walter and me for the last couple of weeks of the summer. It was quite a summer, filled with lots of wonderful memories.”
Herchert graduated from the intern-option MPA program in 1969 and has “great memories of all of my classmates in the program, as well as great memories of Dr. Stene and his famous quote: ‘Experience is your best teacher provided you study your lessons.’ This quote tied right in with Dr. Stene’s case study book, and we had great discussions around those cases.”
“On the fun side I remember at least one softball game in which Dr. Stene participated,” Herchert continues. “No one wanted to tag him out so he could run from home plate as far as he wanted to go without fear of being tagged out – no matter what kind of hit he might have had.”
When asked about why he has provided such important financial support to the School, Herchert said, “I have been a donor to the School for quite some time but I decided to do more when I heard about the fund being established to specifically benefit MPA City Management option students. I am a strong believer in the Council Manager Plan of local government and believe that KU has had a tremendously positive impact on the quality of local government in this country. I want to see that tradition continue, and I believe this fund can assist in making sure that happens.”
“I am also very impressed with Reggie Robinson and the leadership he is providing the School,” Herchert continues. “I thought this was a particularly good time to make this gift and show support for Reggie and his colleagues.”
One of those colleagues is Ray Hummert, Chief Academic Advisor and Director of Alumni Relations for the School, who shared, “Bob worked for Bob Kipp in Fairborn and then later joined Kipp as an Assistant in KCMO before going to Fort Worth as the City Manager. He led Freese and Nichols in being awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2010, and last year, he was awarded the ICMA Distinguished Service Award. In 1981, he was awarded the ICMA In-Service Training Award in memory of Clarence E. Ridley which was given to a manager who developed and implemented effective in-service training programs for their employees. He was an ICMA Regional Vice President on the ICMA Executive Board (1983-1985).”
1990-Present President/Chairman, Freese and Nichols, Inc., a consulting engineering, architectural and environmental science firm based in Fort Worth, TX
1978-1984 City Manager, Fort Worth, TX
1974-1978 Assistant City Manager, Kansas City, MO
1970-1974 City Manager, Camden, AR
1968-1970 Assistant City Manager, Fairborn, OH
On a more personal note, Hummert said, “Bob and Linda have consistently supported the MPA program. For many of us, and especially me, Bob was always a mentor. I called him a ‘mentor from afar’ because of the way he was always ready to assist and answer questions. He was a role model because of the way in which he conducted himself as a manager and person.”
The use of the KUCIMAT MPA Support Fund includes supporting student attendance at professional conferences and participation in part-time internships and research with local governments. Priority is given to activities that allow students to engage with professionals at practice so that they can apply classroom knowledge in the real world. The fund is managed by KU Endowment, and anyone can contribute to the fund.