Dr. Howard's Biography

Dr. Chris Howard is the eighth president of Robert Morris University near Pittsburgh.

DR. CHRISTOPHER B. HOWARD became the eighth president of Robert Morris University in suburban Pittsburgh on February 1, 2016. RMU combines academic excellence with a professional focus in more than 90 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across four academic schools. A nationally ranked, doctoral granting institution, RMU enrolls approximately 5,000 students.

Under Dr. Howard’s leadership, RMU has become a preferred strategic partner for corporations, organizations, and professionals in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. Under its latest strategic plan, RMU 100, the university is using Gallup research and powerful new technologies to boost retention and graduation rates so as to launch students into great careers. The university is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report and in 2019 opened the UPMC Events Center, the new home to the university's NCAA Division I basketball and volleyball teams. That project was part of the RMU 100: Ready to Rise fundraising campaign, which has raised over $110 million to date, surpassing its $100 million goal a year ahead of schedule. In 2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked RMU No. 48 on the magazine’s list of Best Value Schools, a reflection of RMU’s high academic quality and affordable price.

Dr. Howard is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he earned a B.S. in political science in 1991. A Rhodes Scholar, he earned his doctorate in politics at the University of Oxford and an M.B.A. with distinction from the Harvard Business School, and in 2018 received the school's Alumni Achievement Award. He received the Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the country presented to a senior college football player, and was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All America Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their college athletic careers. Dr. Howard has received the Armed Forces Merit Award from the Football Writers Association of America. He is a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and served as one of 13 members of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.

A retired Air Force reserve lieutenant colonel, Dr. Howard served as a helicopter pilot and then became an intelligence officer for the elite Joint Special Operations Command. Defense Secretary William Cohen asked Dr. Howard to accompany a 1999 U.S. delegation to South Africa as a political-military advisor.

He was called back to active duty during 2003 in Afghanistan, and was awarded the Bronze Star. Dr. Howard also served as the Reserve Air Attaché to Liberia.

Prior to his appointment as president of RMU, Dr. Howard for six years was the president of Hampden-Sydney College, near Richmond, Va. During Dr. Howard’s tenure as president, enrollment, retention, and alumni giving increased. Previously he served as vice president for leadership and strategic initiatives at the University of Oklahoma, where he also served as the director of the Honors College Leadership Center and a President’s Associates Presidential Professor.

Dr. Howard enjoyed a successful career in the corporate world, working at General Electric and Bristol-Myers Squibb. At both companies, Dr. Howard’s responsibilities included sales, marketing, international project management, strategic planning, internal consulting, and business development.

Dr. Howard is a trustee on the Harvard University Board of Overseers and also serves on the Board of Directors of AvalonBay Communities, a publicly-traded real estate corporation. Dr. Howard is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Young Presidents Organization, the Aspen Strategy Group and Trilateral Commission, and Sigma Pi Phi, the oldest African-American fraternity in the United States. Dr. Howard served on the National Security Education Board, appointed by President Barack Obama, and the MyVA Advisory Committee for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Howard is the founder and a trustee of the Impact Young Lives Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports South African youth.

Dr. Howard is highly sought after as a speaker by the nation’s premiere higher education organizations,including the College Board, the Education Advisory Board, Ruffalo Noel Levitz, and the National Association of College and University Business Officers. He has been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed. Dr. Howard has taught seminars in the Harvard Graduate School of Education Management Development Program and spoken at the Arizona State University-Georgetown University Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership.

Dr. Howard is married to Barbara Noble Howard from Johannesburg, South Africa. Barbara is a Temple University graduate, director of the Impact Young Lives Foundation, a member of the board of trustees of The Frick Pittsburgh, the board of trustees of The Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, and the board of trustees of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The Howards have two adult sons, Cohen (graduate of the The University of the South) and Joshua ( graduate of Middlebury College).

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