Dr. Christopher Howard Becomes 8th President of RMU
Monday, February 1, 2016
Dr. Christopher B. Howard took office today as the eighth president of Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pa., and he promised to his use voice on behalf of RMU students and alumni and to be an advocate for the issues that matter most to the campus community.
“It is a privilege to be able to write the next chapter of the RMU story with the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors who have built this outstanding institution,” said Howard. “RMU already has a great story, and a big part of my job as president is to tell that story far and wide.”
The Board of Trustees named Howard in September to succeed former President Gregory G. Dell’Omo, who left RMU after 10 years to become president of Rider University in his native New Jersey.
“President Howard has already spent a great deal of time on campus getting to know the RMU family and the local community. I am struck by his ability to connect on a personal level with everyone he meets,” said Gary Claus ’74, chairman of the RMU Board of Trustees. “He is a great communicator with a deeply analytical mind, a powerful combination that will propel RMU forward.”
In a message Monday morning to the RMU community, Howard promised to be a champion for several issues in which he said RMU has shown leadership -- including college affordability and outcomes, expanding opportunities and excellence for all, serving veterans, and empowering women. He also expressed enthusiasm for the university’s proposed new events center and emerging strengths in fields including cybersecurity.
Howard’s first official act as RMU president was to sign the American Council of Education’s “Moving the Needle” pledge, committing his efforts toward the goal that by 2030, half of all colleges and university chief executives will be women.
“I signed this pledge because RMU has made the empowerment of women a strategic priority and has demonstrated time and again its leadership on this issue,” Howard said. All five deans of RMU’s academic schools are women, he noted.
In 2014, RMU launched the Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program, which provides leadership opportunities, peer mentoring, and professional networking to academically talented female students throughout their undergraduate career. RMU also has sought to address gender inequality in the Pittsburgh region and beyond through the 74% Initiative, a research and outreach project of the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management that aims to address disparities between men and women in the nonprofit workforce.
“I am proud of RMU for supporting these and many other initiatives to empower women and for providing leadership opportunities to so many gifted women on the faculty and staff. Personally, I am fortunate to have been mentored throughout my career by accomplished female leaders,” said Howard.
Among the mentors Howard cited is Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, the first female superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, who was one of Howard’s professors when he was a student there. Johnson is set to give the keynote address during Howard’s installation ceremony on Friday, Oct. 7, at RMU’s Moon Township campus.
“General Johnson, like my colleagues at RMU, is a role model not only for women, but also for all who strive for excellence in their field and service to their community. I am grateful for them all, and eager to support those who would follow in their footsteps,” said Howard.
Howard, 46, is a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Academy who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1991. He received the Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the country presented to a senior college football player, and recently he received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their college athletic careers.
A Rhodes scholar, Howard earned his doctorate in politics at Oxford University and an MBA with distinction from Harvard University. A retired Air Force Reserve lieutenant colonel, Howard earned a Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan, and his military service also included stints as an intelligence officer for the elite Joint Special Operations Command and as the Reserve Air Attaché in Liberia.
Most recently Howard was the president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, and prior to that he was vice president for leadership and strategic initiatives at the University of Oklahoma, where he was also the director of the Honors College Leadership Center. Learn more about RMU’s eighth president at rmu.edu/president.