I remember my first impression of him the first day of classes. He had an energy that was unmatched by any professor I have had prior, or since. You could tell he loved students and loved teaching.
I took Bill Hervey’s American Political Theories class in the Spring 2001 semester with my friend, and former roommate, Mike Langlo.
Hervey stood no taller than 5 feet 6 inches tall, but he was larger than any man I knew in that short frame. He was always excited when talking about the great founding fathers of this country and seemed to be very healthy for a man in his early 60s.
Hervey died Dec. 1, 2001.
During a recent trip to Chicago with my friend, we spent countless hours reflecting on Bill.
“Hervey was special because he had a way of pulling people into the discussion and getting people to think, Langlo told me. “He was one of those people you just wanted to be around, he was the professor you wanted to take because you knew you would really learn something.”
During class, he always tried to include people in discussion. His goal was to enlighten people and challenge people with theories of liberty and the great men who created these theories.
“He used to always ask the class, what is precious to liberty and what is pernicious to liberty?” my friend Langlo told me. “I never really knew what he was talking about at the time. Immediately after his first class went home and looked it up so I could have the answer. Hervey never told us what the answer was but he would always ask the question.
“It was after his death when I was remembering what I loved so much about his classes and discussions that I realized what he was talking about. He was talking about education, learning, engaging in discussions about the great questions and problems we all face.”
Outside of class, he was always willing to listen and help you think about the current topic of discussion.
I remember one time where I saw Hervey walking out of the Clark building. A test was looming, so I said “hey Herv, I have a question about. …” Herv seized the moment and did what he could to make me think about the answer – as Mike said, he would never just give you the answer. We talked for a good 20 minutes in the cold, early spring sun. Obviously he was headed somewhere, and I ended up late to class, but I walked away with more knowledge in that brief conversation than in any class I have taken.
I had countless days like that with Herv, and I am but one student of the thousands he dealt with.
We had a group study session as the midterm approached. We went to the Ramskeller – not actually inside because not all the students were over 21 – and we all talked about the Federalist papers, the topic that was to appear on the test.
I remember how relaxed everyone was. We all laughed, thought, and debated for a good long while – we well exceeded the hour we were supposed to spend in the study session. Herv treated us all as equals, and he really wanted us to learn this stuff for life, not just a test.
I remember how charismatic and charming this man was and how every word he spoke exemplified his love for thinking, students, life and teaching.
I would see him frequently on campus and it would always spark great conversation.
He loved CSU and he loved each of us, and still does. Every one who knew him misses him.
Toward the end of that semester, many classes were cancelled and he would come back apologizing for the class being canceled.
He was sick.
More and more classes were canceled and I remember one class in particular where he almost broke down and cried. He was dying, but aside from that brief moment where he almost cried, he was always strong and committed to finishing the class.
I remember the last time I saw him was when I handed him my final. He looked straight into my eye and said, “you have been a great student. Thank you.”
He also told me to have a great summer.
When I heard he died, it killed me. I really thought I was going to be able to have him in other classes, and I felt the CSU community would suffer with his loss, and it has to an extent. But he succeeded in immeasurable ways, and we as students and people, owe him so much.
Thank you Herv, we all miss you.
I wanted to talk with a few people who Mike told me knew Hervey well. I never had the time, such as the life of a student. But I really wanted to talk to you and I want to encourage anyone who knew to send a letter to me, or a letter to the editor.