Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association

Herman Ellis, PhD


Office of Student Life and Student Activities

By the time Herman Ellis, associate vice president for Student Life and director of Student Activities, retired in 2009, his dedicated service and wise counsel had left a lasting mark on the students, faculty, and staff he worked with for 34 years.

Starting in 1975, he spent eight years as a psychological counselor, supporting student success by providing mental health and well-being services at the University’s student counseling center. He went on to play a leadership role in developing many of today’s programs designed to recruit and retain underrepresented students.

He oversaw the Educational Opportunity Program from 1976-1980, where he inspired and encouraged the academic and personal achievements of historically marginalized student populations, including women and students from the Latino, African American, Asian, and Native American communities.

Serving as the assistant vice president (1988-2004) and associate vice president (2004-2009) of Student Life, Ellis implemented various programs that continue to greatly impact students, including the Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center, for which he secured and managed more than $750,000 in federal and state grants. He helped create what is now the Cross-Cultural Leadership Center, restructured the advising program for Greek organizations, and established the annual University Awards to recognize student achievement.

He also helped restructure the Student Affairs professional development committee and programming, which continue to benefit staff. 

Respected and known for his wonderful sense of humor, Ellis was someone people often turned to for advice and encouragement. Adept at promoting teamwork and motivating people to achieve a common goal, he established a reputation for moving projects forward by skillfully navigating and resolving conflict in collaborative environments and always keeping the big picture in mind. 

Ellis earned a PhD in counseling from Iowa State University in 1976. 

Portrait of Herman Ellis, PhD