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Ray Hebert to receive new TMU service award at 25th Bishop William Hughes Awards event Wednesday

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune Reporter

Ray Hebert was concerned – maybe even worried.

He just received that phone call from his boss – Joseph L. Chillo, President, Thomas More University.

Ray Hebert

“Both President Chillo and Dr. Kevin Reynolds, VP for Institutional Advancement said they’d like to meet me for lunch,” Hebert, who has been at the University for 48 years, was concerned.

The news, well for Hebert was outstanding.

Thomas More University is set to honor outstanding community members at the 25th Bishop William A. Hughes Awards Dinner – at the Drees Pavilion in Devou Park – Wednesday, March 29th.

And Hebert – make that Dr. Raymond Hebert, Executive Director of the William T. (Bill) Robinson III Institute for Religious Liberty (IRL) and a full-time Professor of History as well as Dean Emeritus – will receive the newly-created Dr. Raymond Hebert Distinguished Service Award.

“Surprised, you bet I was,” said the 81-year-old Hebert who was recently given a contract extension by the University. “You just never know ow about these things.”

Hebert’s inaugural award is for his service to Thomas More University.

Talk about your legacy – well Dr. Ray Hebert for all practical purposes is Mr. Thomas More University.

But the road to Crestview Hills was a long and winding one for the Rochester, New Hampshire native who attended Holy Rosary High School and later St. Anslem College in Manchester, N.H., where he received his B.A. in History in 1964.

Young Ray Hebert on the job at TMU

A member of the Rochester Hall of Fame, he participated in both baseball and basketball.

“I was a product of a Catholic education,” he told the Northern Kentucky Tribune. “I had a fascination with the Catholic intellectual institution; with a strong emphasis on Catholic education and Liberal Arts. I was determined to teach at that kind of place.”

In 1966 Hebert received his masters in history at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
Next stop – Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross in Washington, D.C.—it closed in 1972 – and he taught history.

A special place, nevertheless since he met his soon-to-be wife (Maureen) who was studying biology. They married in 1972, and have two grown daughters and five grandchildren.

In May, 1975 Ray Hebert received his doctorate in History – English and British – at the University of Maryland.

“Two weeks later,” Hebert said, “We arrived in Kentucky.”

The Heberts didn’t know their travels reached the finish line – at then Thomas More College.

“Maureen said we’d stay in Kentucky for about three-to-five years,” Ray said. “That was understandable since she previously lived in New York City, Boston and San Francisco.”

So why did the Heberts make Kentucky home?

“Loyalty,” Ray said, “Is important to me. I have three families here – my own, my daughters, my five grandchildren, my Thomas More family and my Rotary family.”

Ray Hebert has been a Rotarian 35 years.

Ray and Maureen Hebert

So, Hebert started teaching history at the Crestview Hills campus in 1975 and just two years later was the guest speaker at graduation.

“Morley Safer, from CBS News, was set to be our guest speaker,” Ray said, “and he backed out at the last minute. President (Richard A.) DeGraff asked if I would fill-in. I was only at the school two years; yet I said I’d do it on one condition.”

The condition, he said: “If you let me put on a major conference celebrating Thomas More’s Birthday in February of 1978.

“We sponsored the Thomas More quincentenary Conference for Thomas More’s 500th birthday.”

And this is where Dr. Ray Hebert began to shine. 

He brought in speakers from everywhere for the event – big names.

“It really was a major success,” he said. “So much so Albion Press at Appalachian State published the proceedings.”

Some of those big-names that adorned the campus of Thomas More were Dr. J.H. Hexter from Yale University; a leading speaker on Thomas More.

“We partnered bringing him to the area with the University of Cincinnati, as our keynote speaker,” Hebert said. “Then I wrote to the five biggest names – other than Hexter – to comment on his (Hexter’s) paper. We got four of them to attend.”

One of those who attended was Richard Marius – then at the University of Tennessee – and a Thomas More biographer. His response was both simple and to the point, Ray said: “Anyplace I can be given time with J. Hexter and Jack Daniels, I’ll be there.”

Dr. Ray Hebert spent 14 years as Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, fourteen as Department Chairperson of History, International Studies and Political Science, ten as the Director of the James Graham Brown Honors Program and seven as the Gemini Dual Credit Program.

He has taught or directed 20-plus different programs for the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA) mostly in England, Australia and especially Ireland while serving 30 years on the CCSA Board of Directors. He also spent 30 years on the Advisory Board of the refereed national journal Teaching History: A Journal of Methods.

The Bishop Hughes award is designed to honor external community members who have made significant contributions to Catholic education – the newly created Dr. Raymond Hebert Distinguished Service Award honors those who have made a significant contribution within the University.

One of the changes Hebert speaks glowingly of is the TAP Program – the All-Accelerated Degree Program) – started at the college in 1975.

“In fact,” he said, “Thomas More was the first in Greater Cincinnati to inaugurate a program like this.

“And, all five people who were initially hired for the program are still with us – one in accounting and four in business.”

The TAP Program, Hebert says enabled us to bring in students who already earned college credits, and finish their degree in a short-time. “The classes went for six-to-eight weeks, and 50 of the 52 weeks of the year.”

Dr. Ray Hebert may be in the Rochester, New Hampshire Hall of Fame for basketball and baseball – but he is a born teacher – and has touched many young lives on the Crestview Hills campus.

His now yearly award is well deserved – and his legacy is molded.

“I observed early on,” he said, “that a person may have a brilliant idea, but if no one is listening, it doesn’t matter. You have to get to know people – and connect with them.”

Bishop William A. Hughes began his ministry as a clergy member in 1946. After being appointed to the role of bishop in 1974, he was an active member and served as chairman of various committees within the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference. He was appointed the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Covington in 1979 and served on various boards within the Greater Cincinnati community, also serving as chancellor of Thomas More University. Hughes retired in July, 1995 and passed on Feb. 7, 2013.

See this NKyTribune story about Ray Hebert, NKyTribune NewsMaker Award winner

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