Message from Chancellor Sartarelli: Remembering Herbert T. Fisher

Friday, May 04, 2018

At our first commencement ceremony earlier today, Chancellor Sartarelli was the bearer of some very sad news for our campus. For those of you who were not able to attend, his expanded remarks follow.

Typically we call for a moment of silent reflection at the start of each commencement ceremony. Today, I asked that our audience pause to remember Mr. Herbert Fisher, who passed away this morning. Calling Herb a proud Seahawk is an understatement, but that is one of the many things he was to our UNCW family.

Students and alumni know the Fisher name, of course, from the student center and student union, which Herb, his wife Sylvia, and their family so generously helped establish in 2006. The Fisher Memorial Garden is named in memory of Herb’s late sister, Emily Fisher Hunter. The Fisher Field House sits across from our baseball field. And the Varsity Café is named in honor of Herb’s first business, which served as an unofficial student center in the early days of our university (then a college).

Our campus has also benefited from the service of Herb’s son Carlton on our Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board. Carlton, along with his wife, his sister, and his son, graduated from UNCW. Herb and his beloved wife Sylvia even met at Wilmington College, before we were UNCW. (Sylvia was even Wilmington College’s first Homecoming Queen!) But there was so much more to Mr. Fisher than his well-known name.

Herb funded scholarships because he believed so strongly in the importance of education as a path to success. It was a path he followed, a path he championed, and a path that led him to offer support at every turn. Herb once said that he felt strongly about giving back because he wanted to help make an impact for our students, because “their future depends on what they do here at UNCW.” As our graduates’ time at UNCW draws to a close, we are indeed very proud of what they have done while they were here, and we know Mr. Fisher was, too.

Herb was well-known for his commitment to his community, for his kindness, and for his compassion. He attended countless events on campus, and could often be found at athletic events, proudly cheering on his beloved Seahawks. Herb was someone who embodied the UNCW ideals of hard work, intellectual growth, and a passion for business. More simply put, he was a great gentleman, whose friendship will be missed by so many of our administrators, employees, alumni, and community partners.

We will be paying tribute to Mr. Fisher in a variety of ways, of course, including a memorial book that is now available at the information desk in the Fisher Student Center. But at our commencement ceremonies, a celebration of our graduates’ success, we can think of no better way to honor Herb’s life, and his enormous contributions to our campus, than by reflecting on all that he meant to our Seahawk family. These graduates, and all the achievements that are ahead for them, will allow Mr. Fisher’s spirit to live on.

I ask you to keep Mr. Fisher’s wife, children, grandchildren and extended family in your thoughts during this difficult time.