By Richard WillisDirector of University Police Michael J. Herbst retired Aug. 31 after 23 years of service.
Statistics show that serving 23 years in a row while holding a leadership position is not common at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
"In total, the other seven departments have gone through 19 people," said Michelle Dotter, vice president of administration and finance.
While serving, Herbst said his greatest accomplishment was, "getting people turned in to being safe and calling the police department."
"He was always thinking about the safety of the campus and students," Dotter agrees.
Sergeant Paul Jones, who was hired by Herbst in 2001, said Herbst was a stern leader, but a fair leader as well.
"When there was credit due, he gave it to the department; and when something bad happened, he took the blame for it," Jones said.
On a personal level, Jones said that Herbst looked out for him and the other officers.
"Herbst always cared about me and my family and helped me through some tough times," Jones said. "Without that I probably would not have been able to advance my career."
Herbst was also a teacher at the Alvin Police Academy, which is where he first met Sergeant Debra Hoffman.
"He was my penal code instructor," Hoffman said.
Hoffman graduated from the Alvin Police Academy in 1990 and in 1991 was hired by Herbst to be on the university's police force. A few years later when Hoffman applied for a job at a municipal police department, Herbst helped her acquire it by writing her a letter of recommendation. When she decided to come back to continue her education, Herbst hired her back.
"I look at it as he opened the door for me to start my career, then opened the door to advance my career, and then opened the door again for me to continue my education," Hoffman said.
Hoffman also said Herbst never really took a break.
"Whether he was off or not, he always had his pager or cell phone with him and everything was brought to his attention so that he was aware of everything that was happening before being confronted with it ... he was always prepared," Hoffman said.
Over the years, Herbst volunteered for a number of nonprofit organizations including the American Diabetes Association's Step Out to Fight Diabetes Walk, the March of Dimes, and the Special Olympics.
"He was very active with Special Olympics," Hoffman said. "That was truly in his heart, working with the children."
Now that Herbst is retired he said he is going to go on a five-week road trip with his wife. He said he plans to visit the Pocono Mountains, New York City, Boston and do some whale watching in Maine.
The new Director of University Police Paul Willingham started Aug. 26 working along side Herbst his first week in office. Willingham comes to UHCL with 16 years of experience from the University of Texas at Houston Police Department.