February 06, 2004
roots, love of chemistry guides Herriott
one of three provost candidates, Arthur Herriott shares
stories of his career, education and family.
Herriotts first paying job was making photocopies
the old-fashioned way. On Saturday mornings, he would
go into a darkroom and use a mounted camera to make photo
sheets. He could make about 10 copies in three hours.
Eventually, Xerox machines made his job obsolete.
The lesson was that the job market changes, sometimes
quickly, he said, and one cannot rely on a
single skill for long-term employment.
This lesson, learned at a young age, is one Herriott believes
to this day: There is a lot of value in a liberal arts
Liberal arts are an important part of the training
of any student, he said. Youre not just
training them for an immediate career.
Herriott, one of three provost candidates, was born June
17, 1941, and grew up in East Palestine, Ohio, a community
of less than 5,000 on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. His
parents taught him to brush your teeth, comb your
hair (and) wear socks that match, he said.
During childhood, Herriott developed a love of athletics
that would follow throughout his life.
My excitement with sports began when I was ill in
the spring of first grade and listened to the Cleveland
Indians baseball on the radio every day, he said.
He went on to play for his high school football team,
which lost only one game in the three years he played.
Herriott played second string quarterback, moving up to
first-team defense during his senior year.
In a small town, your talent level isnt as
important as wanting to play the game, said Herriotts
When Herriott left for the College of Wooster in 1959,
it was natural for him to continue with athletics. He
played football for a year, but a knee injury knocked
him out of the game. He decided to move on to track, where
he competed in sprints, hurdles, jumps and relays.
Herriott lived in the campus gym for free during his years
at Wooster. He played track, while the three others who
lived in the gym played football, baseball and basketball.
This gave some unique opportunities for late night
swims, shooting baskets, etc., as well as a certain image
on campus, he said.
During the summer of 1960, between his freshman and sophomore
years of college, Herriott attended a dance in the neighboring
small town of Columbiana, Ohio. There he met a young woman
named Polly, who was between her sophomore and junior
years of high school.
I was just so flattered to be asked to dance by
someone who was in college, Polly said.
The two hit it off because they had many things in common,
Polly said. They both came from big families and enjoyed
participating in outdoor activities.
One of the first dates we went on was a miniature
golf date, she said.
After keeping in touch and dating off-and-on for a few
years, the two married in 1964.
When he began college, Herriott aspired to be a high school
science teacher and football coach. His aspirations changed
by his senior year.
Some professors inspired me about chemistry and
suggested that I am for graduate school and research along
with teaching, he said.
Chemistry became Herriotts main academic interest.
He followed the subject through graduate school and went
on to teach it. He received a B.A. in chemistry from Wooster
in 1963 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of
Florida in 1967.
Chemistry is fascinating because it enables us to
understand all those things around us what is wood,
salt, water and why do they behave the way that
they do, Herriott said. My biggest enjoyment
comes from solving problems asking why questions
and then figuring out the answers.
Outside of the classroom, Herriott participates in a variety
of activities. Hes an avid reader, attends music
and arts programs at FIU, enjoys the opera and participates
in various athletic pursuits. He has won the title of
Fastest Executive in the Miami Corporate Run, a 5K race
for members of the FIU community.
He works out several times a week and has passed his love
of the outdoors on to his two sons. He was an assistant
Boy Scout leader and coached soccer for his sons
teams. He also always made time to attend ball games when
his boys were little and the family took many camping
He likes making fires and catching snakes and that
kind of thing, Polly said.
The couples oldest son, Greg, 33, is a construction
project manager living in Georgetown. Jeff, 31, is an
assistant professor of music and communication media at
the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Herriott says moving to Texas would have both pros and
Trading hurricane preparedness for tornado preparedness
may be a toss-up, he said.