Sixteen questions

for the 16th president

On June 1, Dr. Herbert L. King, Jr. will assume the presidency of Lees-McRae.

In the spirit of King’s coming leadership as the 16th president, we borrowed 16 questions from the Proust Questionnaire (commonly used by Vanity Fair). Created by Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist believed that responses to the questions revealed one’s true character.

Read on to learn some of King’s talents, his favorite hero of fiction, and some of his greatest achievements.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect happiness for me means either being with my family, which is very, very important to me, but also I love to swing in a hammock beside a trout stream and listen to the water as it rolls over the rocks. And I love to catch native brook trout.


2. Which living person do you most admire?

Oh gosh, Jesus Christ. He's alive and very important in my life and my faith.


3. What is your greatest extravagance?

I think my greatest extravagance is the motor home that we bought a few years ago. We bought it so that we can tour the country with our children. We home school our kids and it’s fascinating to be able to introduce them to the great places in the U.S. That has been my greatest extravagance thus far. Otherwise, I am a simple guy.


4. What is your current state of mind?

I am fully at peace and incredibly happy that we are at Lees-McRae College now. I feel like I am exactly where I was meant to be, and that brings me a great deal of happiness and peace.


5. Which talent would you most like to have?

I'd love to be able to play the guitar or some sort of musical instrument. I love music and I've always wanted to do that. I've never taken the time to really learn. I’m a really good air guitar player, though!


6. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My family. They are overwhelmingly the greatest achievement that I have. My family is my life, my joy and they bring me incredible peace and happiness.


7. What is your most treasured possession?

I'm not a very materialistic guy, so there’s not a lot of importance that I place on material things. If my house was on fire and I was assured that my family was safe and that family photos were saved, I would next make sure that I saved two shotguns that were owned by two very important men in my life—my grandfather and my dad, both of whom have passed.  


8. What is your most marked characteristic?

My sense of humor. While I have other strong characteristics, my sense of humor is the thing most people will say is my strongest trait. I love to laugh; I love to hear others laugh and I love to create environments where people are at ease and comfortable.


9. What do you most value in your friends?

I most value someone that I can laugh with, have fun with and that is loyal and going be beside you through thick and thin. I also value having someone who will love you no matter how terrible of a person you can be from time to time. I value friends who will challenge my view of things and will tell me when I am wrong or if my view is not as broad as it should be. That loyalty and unconditional friendship is very important to me.


10. Who are your favorite writers?

That would require me to read more than I do. [laughs] I enjoy reading the kind of books that are sort of leadership and personal development focused. I love Andy Stanley; he is a minister near Atlanta, Georgia. Andy has written some of the best leadership development books that I've read and I always find great inspiration in things that I hear from him.


11. Who is your hero of fiction?

I wouldn’t say that I have a hero of fiction, but I can really relate to Nick Adams in Hemingway’s short stories, especially Big Two-Hearted River. Retreating to the woods to fish a favorite stream and to revisit places familiar, all bring restorative peace to me. Great rejuvenation of the body and soul happens in nature.


12. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

The historical figure that I really identify with—and this is going to sound like a very strange answer because I don't want to place myself on a pedestal—is a hero of the old testament. It’s Moses. We think of Moses as a fantastic leader but he also had lots of shortcomings and he had lots gifts that needed to be developed as he became a stronger leader for the Israelites. His own leadership transformation through the times is very interesting to me and it’s something that I can relate to.


13. Who are your heroes in real life?

My heroes are my wife and children. They are resilient, unconditionally loving and the impact they have made on my life is really important to me and it’s helped make me the person I am.


14. What is your motto?

Service above self. I very much try to place the needs of other people above my own and that’s how I'm going to lead Lees-McRae and that’s how I’m going to hopefully create an atmosphere and environment where everybody feels that they have a voice, that they are important, and that their ideas are something that’s very, very important to me.


15. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Hola Señors y Señoritas!”  Here is the back-story on that one: We homeschool our children and a few years ago we were teaching introductory Spanish. To make it stick, we tried to use as much Spanish as we could around the house. Those phrases have definitely stuck with me, much to my children’s chagrin. They hear it every morning and whenever I walk in the front door!  


16. What is your greatest regret?

I often have said that I regret some things about my own undergraduate college experience. First, I regret that I didn’t study abroad. I have seen in my career the benefits of exposure to a different culture and the changes students encounter while studying abroad. I regret that I didn’t do it, and am going to make sure that we have many of those opportunities at Lees-McRae for our students. Second, I regret not doing more things in the summers during my college years. Each year, I returned home to a summer job as a bank teller. While being home was great, I regret not doing various internships or other things. 

By Nina MastandreaApril 20, 2018
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