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A top gun for RMU: Christopher Howard is the growing school’s promising new president

Saturday, May 7, 2016
As Robert Morris University holds undergraduate commencement today, university president Christopher Howard would be forgiven if his mind strays to thoughts about future classes he will have a hand in shaping. Mr. Howard, who took the reins on Feb. 1, has had little time so far to influence the institution colloquially known as “Bobby Mo.” But he is a goal-oriented, high-energy person with the potential to add to the university’s regional importance and national standing.

His resume is impressive: Air Force Academy graduate, standout football player, helicopter pilot, decorated veteran of Afghanistan, air attache to Liberia and intelligence officer, with an MBA from Harvard and a doctorate from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar. Before joining RMU, he was the first black president of Virginia’s all-male, predominately white Hampden-Sydney College, where he was credited with improving the academics and the finances.

During a recent meeting with the Post-Gazette editorial board, Mr. Howard displayed an infectious enthusiasm for his work. While respectful of all the university has achieved to date, he is not content with the status quo. He wants to increase the percentage of students who are female (now about 46 percent) and plans to demonstrate his commitment to empowering women by bringing Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, to campus this fall.

He also wants to increase the percentage of minority students (now about 25 percent). A leadership program for black male students already is in development.

Mr. Howard also recognizes that he has the potential to lead off-campus, too. While Mr. Howard says his first priority must be to RMU, he understands his broader responsibility. Mr. Howard makes an excellent first impression. We hope that he and the university will prosper together.

Article written by the Editoral Board of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette published on May 7, 2016. Click here for the original article.