By Mary Massaquoi
Dr. Anne F. Herzog has been named SUNY Plattsburgh’s new provost and vice president of academic affairs this semester, and she’s here to educate and experience the North Country during this challenging time.
Herzog grew up north of Boston into a large family of five kids.
“I didn’t come from a home with a lot of books or a lot of experience with higher education,” Herzog said.
Her mother, the daughter of Irish immigrants, believed that education was very important in terms of living a fuller life and having more opportunities. Growing up on those morals, she attended and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross from Worcester, Massachusetts.
“It was amazing, eye-opening, exciting…all the things I was learning.”
By the end of her undergraduate years, she was not sure what she wanted to do. For a couple years, she taught seventh and eighth grade. This clarified for her that she wanted to be a faculty member which led to her deciding to go to graduate school. She received her doctorate in English at Rutgers in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and started teaching. Herzog taught literature and writing classes for 18 years at Westchester University in Pennsylvania. There, she became a chairman.
“I realized the importance of good, academic leadership,” Herzog said.
Then, she applied and was hired as dean of arts and sciences at Springfield College where she spent the next 9 years. But then she was ready for one more move.
“I learned everything and accomplished all I could, I looked for another challenge and provost was the next level,” she said.
In search of a new obstacle, a key element she deemed necessary was being close to her family in the northeast. When the opportunity came up at SUNY Plattsburgh, not knowing much, she applied.
“One thing that stood out was the size was right,” she said. “The values of the community were exciting.”
Another thing that excited Herzog was that there was a new president.
“I thought that would be wonderful to work with somebody new who came in with a lot of energy and was ready to bring the institution forward,” she said.
Her position went into effect July 13. Starting the job, her first goal was to get to know SUNY Plattsburgh.
“First thing I needed to do was understand more about the institution, culture, and history. I don’t think you can impose a plan on a community without knowing the people,” she said.
Herzog experiences weren’t ideal. Interviews took place on Zoom, she couldn’t visit the campus or meet people in-person due to the coronavirus pandemic. She now spends time walking to academic buildings to see different departments and chatting with faculty. Herzog’s focus was clear.
“I’m student-centered and a faculty advocate. I want to do everything possible that I can to make sure that the students who enroll here have a good experience and also support the faculty so that they feel that their work is valued and they have resources they need to do their work,” she said.
As a result of COVID-19, Herzog’s typical day looks different. She’s in the office early in the morning.
“I have a very heavy email volume, I am trying to figure out a way to reduce it,” she said.
She is still getting comfortable with working electronically though she doesn’t enjoy working on a screen.
“It is not an effective way to go about designing my own goals and moving forward on them,” she said.
Every Monday and Wednesday, the first hour of Herzog’s day is dedicated to a meeting with President Alexander Enyedi, his cabinet, deans, Student Health Center director and other key people who will be involved with COVID-19 adjustments or changes to plan overall goals and protecting the safety and welfare of the entire campus, as well as the Plattsburgh community.
“I came in the middle of trouble shooting. Meetings are important to get to know people, get to know basic beliefs about what’s inplace, what could be improved, important next steps, and playing catch up,” she said.
Herzog reads a lot of reports that focus on the awareness about what’s happening nationally, on other campuses and in the SUNY system. Herzog plans to keep students feeling safe and engaged on campus during these times through teamwork and empathy.
“Being [a] part of the COVID planning team, I am not singly involved in this plan or responsibility, but it’s a really important responsibility. I have two children myself and across my career whenever I was put in a difficult situation where I was thinking how I should respond to something I would often think about if my own son or daughter were in this situation. Would it be OK? That’s been the highest guidance for me. If it’s not good for my own child it’s not good for anybody else’s.”