Dr. Christopher 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 49 undergraduate and 35 graduate degree programs across five academic schools. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate, nontraditional and online students from 45 states and 41 nations are enrolled at RMU, which sits on 230 scenic acres just 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh.
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. 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 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 for men 60 miles southwest of Richmond, Va. In 2011-12, Hampden-Sydney improved 17 spots in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, the largest such jump of any of the top 100 liberal arts colleges. During Dr. Howard’s tenure as president, enrollment, retention, and alumni giving all increased at Hampden-Sydney, and the college produced its first Truman and Goldwater scholars in 20 years.
Dr. Howard previously 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 also 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, and NPR's "All Things Considered" and “On Being” as well as being interviewed on CNN, PBS, and PRI's "The Tavis Smiley Show."
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 Virginia War Memorial Board of Directors, and a Trustee of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. They have two sons, Cohen and Joshua. Cohen is a senior at Sewanee: The University of the South, and Joshua is a freshman at Middlebury College.