Commencement Speaker: Christopher B. Howard, DPhil, MBA

Christopher B. Howard, DPhil, MBA

Christopher B. Howard, DPhil, MBA, became the eighth president of Robert Morris University near Pittsburgh in February 2016 and is one of the youngest college presidents in the United States. He graduated with distinction from the United States Air Force Academy in 1991 and earned a doctorate in politics as a Rhodes Scholar from the University of Oxford in 1994. In 2003, he earned an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.

Howard’s service to his country began as a helicopter pilot after earning his doctorate, then as an intelligence officer, when he was assigned to the elite Joint Special Operations Command. After 9/11, he served in Afghanistan in the Air Force Reserve and was awarded the Bronze Star. He also served as the Reserve Air Attaché to Liberia.

Howard aims to make Robert Morris University, or RMU, the preferred strategic partner for corporations, organizations, professionals, and aspiring professionals in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. The university is 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.

Before joining RMU, Howard was president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and vice president for Leadership and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Oklahoma. He enjoyed a successful career in the corporate world, working in General Electric’s Corporate Initiatives Group and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Corporate Associates Program.

Previously, Howard served on the National Security Education Board, which was appointed by President Barack Obama, and the MyVA Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a member of the board of directors of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Young Presidents Organization.

He is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and has received honorary degrees from Centre College, Ripon College, Christopher Newport University, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Howard is a member of Sigma Pi Phi, also known as the Boule, the oldest African-American fraternity in the United States.

Howard won the Campbell Trophy, the nation’s highest academic award for a senior college football player, at the United States Air Force Academy. He is a member of the Verizon Academic All-American Hall of Fame and a winner of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. He also is a member of the National Football Foundation Awards Committee and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, and one of 13 members of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.

Howard is the founder and a trustee of the Impact Young Lives Foundation, a nonprofit organization that brings South African college students of color to the U.S. for summer educational and cultural tours. His wife, Barbara Noble Howard, is the foundation’s executive director and a native of South Africa.