Garth Herman (U’86)

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Garth Herman (U'86)

Garth Herman (U’86, U’00) volunteers both his time and his expertise in financial databases, helping to build credit unions and cooperatives throughout the developing world. He has worked in Kenya, Nepal, and Senegal, and currently lives in Arcola, Saskatchewan. He fondly remembers his time at Luther College—and, in particular, how one Luther College professor taught him about love.

Herman studied Computer Science at Luther College, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in 1986. He is currently a Technical Analyst with the South East Cornerstone School Division.

In recalling his time at Luther College in the 1980s, Herman highlights the significance of a couple of classes he took from Professor Paul Antrobus. Dr. Paul Antrobus (1935–2015) was a Canadian Baptist missionary who had worked in India from 1962 to 1969 and then taught Psychology at Luther College from 1973 to 2005.

“He helped me become aware that we are free to do what we choose to do,” Herman says of Antrobus. “There are consequences to our actions … There’s lots of restrictions we put on ourselves because we feel society won’t accept certain things. And what Paul helped me realize was: I’m free to say and do whatever I choose.”

Herman continues: “But it also means [that] everyone else is also free to do whatever they say and choose. The way we structure our society is to prevent people from hurting each other. As long as we have the perspective that what I choose to do doesn’t interfere or harm you, I’m free to do whatever I want.”

Because of Dr. Antrobus, Herman returned to Luther College to study Psychology, completing a Bachelor of Arts Honours in 2000. “I went back and took [that] second degree with Luther College,” he says, “because I wanted to study with Paul Antrobus—because his perspective on life I found quite beneficial.” Dr. Antrobus was his Honours degree supervisor.

Herman describes Dr. Antrobus’s influence on him as a “paradigm shift”—one which would profoundly inform and influence Herman’s own life work. He says his volunteer work focuses on community development, where traditional banking structures are replaced by credit unions or cooperatives, so that everyone has a say in decision-making. Instead of “one dollar, one vote,” it’s “one member, one vote.” These financial institutions end up being more socially, economically, and environmentally responsible.

Herman recalls that his Computer Science degree also included a Co-op work placement, giving him a head start in his field. For the last 40 years, Herman has worked in financial databases and the computer science industry, including at an agricultural auction barn in Arcola, which made approximately $150 million annually in sales.

“The structure of Luther College creates an environment where students can feel like they matter; they’re not just a number,” Herman says. He mentions that both in the Residence and throughout Luther College “there’s a sense of community.” Essentially, Herman says, Luther College has “the concept that love is important. And they try to live love. The professors are part of that community.” Referring specifically to Dr. Antrobus, Herman says: “He helped people become more aware of themselves and—if you want to put it this way—more aware of love.”

Herman says it was because of Dr. Antrobus that he learned to be “more open to all sorts of other ideas”; he became comfortable with and open to exploring new ideas, instead of responding immediately with “Oh, I can’t believe that.” He continues, “Everyone has to make their own decision about God, and about love, and about purpose of life [but] it has to be a personal decision about anything we believe.”

Another Luther College professor also influenced Herman’s life philosophy. Dr. Roland Miller had come to Luther in 1967 to serve as Professor of Islam and World Religions; he became Academic Dean in 1977. “Roland Miller is inspiring,” Herman says.

Partly because of his time at Luther College, Herman developed a lifelong interest in religion. He has been involved with “numerous Christian denominations,” and other religions too. “When I was in Nepal, I’d go to the Himalayan Buddhist Meditation Centre two or three times a week,” Herman says. “I’ve listened to the Dalai Lama for a week.”

Herman is currently leading United Church services twice a month as a volunteer. He believes that “God is love. And the purpose of Christ: demonstrating that love.” Herman summarizes his own life philosophy in three words: “Attune to love.”

In reflecting on his time at Luther, Herman notes that the people he met through Luther College have become his lifelong friends. He sums up the strength of Luther College this way: “The professors that they hire care about people as well as being good at what they’re doing. The atmosphere that Luther creates is one of inclusion, belonging, and concern.”