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 is a nationally ranked university that combines academic excellence with a professional focus in more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across five academic schools. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate, nontraditional and online students from 48 states and 39 nations are enrolled at RMU, which sits on 230 scenic acres just 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh.
Dr. Howard aims to make RMU the preferred strategic partner for corporations, organizations, and professionals in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. Under the university's latest strategic plan, RMU 100, the university will use Gallup research and powerful new technologies to boost retention and graduations rates and launch students into great careers. RMU is now nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, which also rates RMU among the top 10 percent of universities for online bachelor’s degree programs in the nation. In May 2019 the university opened the UPMC Events Center, part of a $55 million capital project that included the People's Court and the Student Recreation and Fitness Center, the largest capital project in RMU’s history.
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. He received the Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the country presented to a senior college football player, and was inducted into the Verizon 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 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 after earning his doctorate, 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 for his service. 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, a private, liberal arts college near Richmond, Va. During Dr. Howard’s tenure as president, enrollment, retention, and alumni giving all increased at Hampden-Sydney. 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 in General Electric's Corporate Initiatives Group as well as Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Corporate Associates Program. At both companies, Dr. Howard’s responsibilities included sales, marketing, international project management, strategic planning, internal consulting, and business development.
He has been featured in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, ESPN.com, NPR's "All Things Considered" and “On Being” and has been interviewed on CNN, PBS, and PRI's "The Tavis Smiley Show."