Jim Herbert, 1962 Alum and Neogen Corporation Founder, CEO, Honored

Jim Herbert receives Honorary Ph.D from University of Tennessee

Jim Herbert,
a 1962 graduate of the University of Tennessee Department of Animal Science, received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources first-ever honorary Ph.D. at the university's fall 2016 commencement on December 9. Herbert also delivered the commencement address. Pictured left to right are Caula Beyl, CASNR dean; Joe DiPietro, UT President; Jim Herbert; and Jimmy Cheek, UTK Chancellor. Photo courtesy UTIA. Download image.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — “There is nothing like coming back home,” was one of the sentiments shared by Jim Herbert, University of Tennessee Knoxville alum and a 1962 graduate of the animal science department. Herbert delivered the commencement address for the university’s December 2016 graduating class on December 9.

During the ceremony, Herbert himself became a December graduate, when he was presented the first-ever Honorary Doctor of Science degree in agriculture to be conferred by the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“Though this prestigious diploma bears my name, it could and should bear the names of a lot of other people who have been responsible for my joint accomplishments,” Herbert told the graduating students. “That started back over 50 years ago when I proudly walked a stage like you are about to do.”

Herbert is founder, chairman and CEO of the Michigan-based Neogen Corporation, which focuses on the development, manufacturing and marketing of products for food and animal safety.

Herbert began his UT career living in a 10’ x 12’ room in the center of a greenhouse on the campus of the UT Institute of Agriculture. It was room and board he earned through sweat equity watering the plants. UT is also where he met his wife, the former Judith Anderson. Both have continued to remain active in support of the university.

In his address to UT fall graduates, Herbert challenged the students to “search for the things you ‘can do,’ and then convert those things into a ‘will do’ attitude.” The Herberts have lived this credo, through impacts in their community and through many impacts at the university. He is a member of the UT Foundation Board of Directors. Judi serves on the College of Arts and Science Dean’s Advisory Board. They both have a passion for promoting education and providing internship experiences for students.

In the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Herbert’s support has created and sustained internship opportunities for students who might not otherwise have the chance to put their knowledge into practice.

“Jim Herbert has given generously to the college, and the internship experiences he has provided serve students who want to be leaders in the agricultural and business industries,” said Caula Beyl, Dean of CASNR. “We are grateful for his support of our students.”

With agriculture in his roots, the Memphis farm boy’s career led him to co-found Neogen Corporation. The publicly held company is a pioneer in rapid diagnostic testing and focuses on the development, manufacturing and marketing of products for food and animal safety. Herbert’s business acumen has won praise from NASDAQ and USA Today, which named him a Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year. Other recognitions include honorary Ph.Ds from Michigan State University and Queen’s University of Belfast, Ireland. However, Herbert has stayed in touch with the UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) and is focused on advancing the Institute.

“Jim’s vision in providing agricultural advancements for the health of humans and animals has had a global impact,” said Tim Cross, interim UTIA Chancellor. “As a recognized leader, we are proud of his accomplishments and his willingness to assist and encourage tomorrow’s leaders by example and through financial support.”

Jim and Judi understand the role the university must have in addressing agricultural issues faced at home and around the globe.

“Jim’s continued involvement and philanthropic investments in the university, particularly the Institute of Agriculture, will have long-lasting impacts,” said Keith Barber, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement. “The Herbert’s engagement and expectations of their alma mater will help advance the land-grant mission to address real life solutions.  We are fortunate to have such exemplary alumni and proud that Jim holds the first UT honorary doctorate of science in agriculture.”

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. ag.tennessee.edu



Lisa Stearns, UTIA Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications, lstearns@tennessee.edu