The former president of Colgate University has been named the next president and chief executive of the Newseum and the Newseum Institute, museum officials announced Thursday.
Jeffrey Herbst, 54, a Yale- and Princeton-educated political scientist, will take over the financially troubled museum of journalism Aug. 3, after five years as president of the private liberal arts school in Hamilton, N.Y. Herbst replaces James Duff, who resigned in October after three years.
In a joint statement, Peter S. Prichard, chairman and chief executive of the Newseum, and Jan Neuharth, chair of the Freedom Forum, a nonprofit that supports the Newseum, said Herbst was selected for his deep fundraising experience and record for leading complex institutions.
“And he shares a passion for our mission — to champion First Amendment freedoms and the right of free expression. That’s why he was our unanimous choice to help us achieve our ambitious goals over the next decade and beyond.”
Herbst said he expects fundraising to be an important part of the job.
“I’m enthusiastic about telling the Newseum’s story,” he said. “I think the Newseum is at the center of a host of debates that we are having in the U.S. and across the world about free expression, the nature of religious liberty and the future of journalism, given the technological disruptions.”
Herbst arrives at a difficult time for the organization, a sprawling complex on Pennsylvania Avenue NW that is $307 million in debt. The organization has reported annual operating deficits almost every year since it opened in the District in 2008, despite an average annual subsidy from the Freedom Forum of $34 million.
Internal documents from this past November show the museum’s finances were shaky enough for its leaders to consider offering investors stakes in its building in return for immediate cash. The documents also report the organization is the early planning of a $250 million fundraising effort.
During his five years at Colgate, Herbst helped complete a $480 million fundraising campaign, including $54 million for financial aid that was above the initial goal. He is also credited with enhancing the university’s use of digital technology, including online learning.
Newseum officials would not disclose Herbst’s salary or the length of his contract. He was paid $484,147 in 2013, according to Colgate’s most recent tax filings.
An author and professor of political science, Herbst served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Miami University in Ohio before becoming Colgate’s president in 2010. Before Miami, he was chairman of the department of politics at Princeton University.
He earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton and a master’s degree and doctorate from Yale University.
Former Colgate University provost Douglas A. Hicks described Herbst as a “visionary leader” who understands changing social trends.
“He draws upon his framework as a political scientist in order to help institutions fulfill their mission. He will bring his innovative talents, and a strong commitment to the promotion of democracy, to the Newseum,” Hicks told The Washington Post.