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The writing center in the College of Arts and Sciences was dedicated in recognition of Judi Herbert in 2019.

With loving care, James L. Herbert (’62) sowed seeds of generosity that continue to grow and impact Volunteers across the University of Tennessee.

Herbert, a successful businessman and proud UT alumnus with roots in agriculture, passed away on March 16 at the age of 83.

In 2018, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources was renamed the Herbert College of Agriculture in honor of Herbert and his wife, Judi (’63), following a transformational gift that has ensured generations to come will be able to receive an unsurpassed agricultural education. They also support agricultural research and extension services as well as the Herbert Scholars Program, which provides financial assistance to undergraduates from the college for summer experiential learning opportunities outside of Knoxville.

“Jim Herbert loved the University of Tennessee — and it always showed,” said Chancellor Donde Plowman. “He was generous with his time, his support and his leadership. He was an advocate for higher education and a role model for all Volunteers. In addition to his generous support for agriculture, he and Judi supported many parts of the university, including the College of Arts and Sciences. He will be deeply missed and his legacy will live on in the thousands of lives he impacted.”

UT Institute of Agriculture Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President Keith Carver called Herbert an “outstanding ambassador for the use of technology to improve lives.”

“We will miss his energy, tireless support of agriculture and friendly spirit,” Carver said.

The couple’s support extended beyond agriculture to many other areas of campus, including the College of Arts and Sciences, sorority and fraternity life, student life, and financial aid and scholarships.

In 2017, the Herberts established the Jim and Judi Herbert Excellence in Writing Endowment to support undergraduate tutoring, services to upper-division students who are not English majors, and the development of workshops for faculty across academic disciplines to discuss best practices for designing and assessing writing assignments. The writing center in the College of Arts and Sciences was dedicated in recognition of Judi in 2019.

Jim Herbert hugs his granddaughter as she walks across the stage during the Herbert College of Agriculture commencement ceremony on May 19, 2023.

Herbert, a native of Memphis, came to UT to study agriculture and had a job caring for a greenhouse on campus. He met Judi while soliciting votes on campus during an election campaign. Herbert graduated with a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry in 1962.

Convinced that biotechnology was the way of the future, he co-founded Neogen, a pioneer in rapid diagnostic testing and products for food and animal safety, which helps protect the world’s food supply chain. He retired from Neogen in 2020 and lived in Lansing, Michigan.

In 2016, the Herberts were named UT Philanthropists of the Year.

Herbert’s business acumen at Neogen and other corporations he served as a board member was recognized by NASDAQ and USA Today, which named him a Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Michigan State University and Queen’s University of Belfast, Ireland. In 2016, he received another when UT recognized his service to industry and the university with an honorary doctorate in agriculture. That same year the Herberts were named UT Philanthropists of the Year, and Herbert was a featured speaker at the agricultural college’s ceremonies.

Herbert is survived by his wife, Judi; two children, Scott and Melissa; and several grandchildren.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,

Lisa Stearns (865-974-7141,