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Sherri Tombarge
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Visiting Professors Teach English, International Studies

FullTextImage/img/@altPaul Hebert and Catharine Gilliam

LEXINGTON, Va., Sept. 3, 2013 – An international humanitarian aid worker and an historic preservationist with a law degree will join the VMI faculty this fall as visiting professors.

Dr. Paul Hebert ’68, whose career as a humanitarian has led him to work on four continents and live in eight foreign countries, will hold the Floyd D. Gottwald Visiting Professorship in Leadership and Ethics for the fall 2013 semester.

Catharine M. Gilliam will hold the Thomas Bahnson and Anne Bassett Stanley Professorship in Ethics and Integrity within the newly reorganized department of English, Rhetoric, and Humanitistic Studies. Her appointment is for the 2013-14 academic year.

Hebert, who lives in Steamboat Springs, Colo., will teach a class in the international studies department titled International Humanitarian Aid, Disaster Management, and Response.

In March 2011, Hebert received VMI’s Jonathan M. Daniels ’61 Humanitarian Award. The award’s previous recipients were former President Jimmy Carter and former Ambassador Andrew Young.

After graduating from VMI with a degree in civil engineering, Hebert earned a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and served two years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He went on to earn a doctorate in environmental engineering from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Hebert worked for the United Nations for 17 years, retiring in 2008. During his time with the United Nations, he responded to various man-made humanitarian disasters in Iraq, the former Soviet republics, and the former Yugoslavia. Later, he was assigned to east Africa, where he developed diplomacy skills as he worked with government officials to allow humanitarian actions to take place.

Previous holders of the Gottwald chair have included Dr. William Lad Sessions, a retired professor of philosophy from Washington and Lee University; Lt. Gen. John W. Knapp ’54, a former superintendent of VMI; and Dr. Lewis “Bob” Sorley, a military historian.

Gilliam is a native of Lexington with strong ties to the Institute. Her father, the late Col. Bates McCluer Gilliam ’40, taught politics and comparative government at VMI from 1949 until the mid-1980s, with a brief hiatus in the early 1950s while he was earning a doctorate at Princeton University. Her grandfather, James R. Gilliam Jr., graduated from the Institute in 1910.

Gilliam holds a bachelor’s degree in architectural history from the University of Virginia and a juris doctor degree from Washington and Lee University’s School of Law. She worked as an attorney for McGuire Woods and also for the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the 1980s, but has focused her energies since then on consulting, with a focus on public policy issues and historic preservation.

For example, Gilliam loaned her professional expertise to Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the Civil War battlefields near Fredericksburg, as that organization mounted a legal battle against Wal-Mart’s plan to build a Supercenter near the Wilderness battlefield. In January 2011, on the eve of a trial, Wal-Mart withdrew its building plans.

She is now a principal with Community Collaboration LLC, which provides consulting services to public policy campaigns and works to protect historically and/or culturally important areas.

“I’ve focused recently on working to create partnership for communities adjacent to National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges,” she said.

At VMI, Gilliam will teach legal writing. She will also identify and develop service learning opportunities for English majors.

“My career has focused on enhancing civic engagement to advance key values in American society,” said Gilliam of her decision to focus on these areas. “Skills in writing, public speaking, digital communication, and research will be increasingly critical to fulfilling an individual’s role in society.”

 -VMI-