Sally Griffiths Herbert '88

Living by Example

Sally Griffiths Herbert ’88 has an agenda: Do what needs to be done. It’s an idea she learned as a child, an attitude she developed in college, and an approach she has honed as a businesswoman and lead volunteer.

“In my family we have a culture of giving and supporting the people and places we love,” Herbert explains. “That includes schools; specifically Hartwick. I believe in Hartwick’s liberal arts to the core. Our graduates are adaptable and that’s marketable, especially in uncertain times.”

Her life is evidence. An anthropology major and biology minor, Herbert studied archaeology and after graduation went to work for Boston University’s Office of Public Archaeology and on the Big Dig (Central Artery/Tunnel Project) of Boston. She and her husband, Tim, then went into business together – first as the owners of Ski Whaleback, Ltd. ski resort, now as owners of Ring Brook Farm, both in New Hampshire. She also runs the equestrian program of Kimball Union Academy from their 300-acre farm and is a United States Pony Club District Commissioner.

“When you own your own business like I do, you have to wear every hat,” Herbert explains, noting that one moment she’s teaching horse anatomy, another she’s reviewing the business’ books, another she’s fixing fences on the property. “As a Hartwick grad I’m always ready to jump into something new; there’s value added in that.”

Herbert also sees Hartwick’s value from the perspective of a College trustee. “Thinking about Hartwick as a business is really interesting,” she says of her work on the Board since 2009. “There are so many facets; I never would have guessed how complex the organization is.”

That complexity is expressed in the range of needs behind The Campaign for Hartwick Students: student scholarships, J Term funds and the Emerson International Internships challenge, Anderson Center for the Arts, Binder PE Center, the Greener Hartwick Initiative and the Pine Lake challenge, and the Hartwick Fund. The Herberts stand behind it all. In fact, their commitment to Hartwick runs so deep, the couple recently signed on as co-chairs of The Campaign, serving alongside trustee Carol Ann Hamilton Coughlin ’86 and her husband, PJ Coughlin. 

The Herberts lead by example, time and again. Their first major gift to The Campaign endowed the Sarah Griffiths ’88 and Timothy Herbert Endowed J Term Scholarship. Last year their largesse sent Brianna O’Keefe ’15 to Jamaica for the Transcultural Nursing course; this winter Cody DeBernardis ’15 and Thomas Dwyer ’16 will share the scholarship to study Sustainable Public Policies in Arizona. It’s a campaign objective that resonates deeply with Sally Herbert, who pursued two J Term courses during her Hartwick years: a winter bird study and island archaeology on San Salvador and Long Island, Bahamas. “They were eye-opening, challenging, and refreshing experiences that completely changed me,” she recalls.  “That’s what I want for Hartwick students.”

The latest major construction project on campus represents the Herberts’ second major gift to The Campaign for Hartwick Students. The Sally Griffiths Herbert ’88 Aquatic Center encompasses Moyer Pool, coach offices, and the Dale Rothenberger team rooms (for which fundraising is currently underway).

Seeing her name emblazoned on a wall feels unnatural to Herbert, who is both self-effacing and selfless. “Our gifts could be anonymous as far as I’m concerned,” she says. “But I know it’s important to inspire others. When it comes to Hartwick, Tim and I are team players. ”

Just as The Campaign for Hartwick Students is personal for students, so it is for donors. Herbert was moved to fund improvements to the pool because as a trustee she recognized the need, but also because this gift gave her an opportunity to say thank you. She was not a member of the swim team, but she did spend countless hours in the pool during her Hartwick years. With her friend Julie van Steenwyk ’88, Herbert took advanced lifesaving and water safety instructor courses with Coach Dale Rothenberger P’00, P’02, P’05. He helped her move past perceived limitations, as he has for so many Hartwick students and alumni. “I had been afraid of deep water my whole life,” she recalls. “Dale inspired me to work toward a goal I never thought I could achieve. We had the time of our lives.”

With earnest attention and a ready laugh, Herbert continues to write her Hartwick Experience. She funds experiences that represent challenges faced and overcome and in so doing creates opportunities. “I have the time, the flexibility, the ability, the resources, and the passion to be very involved at Hartwick,” she says. “I love that we’re helping young people meet their future.”