Game Changer: How Dr. Christopher Howard Is Making A Difference At Robert Morris University
“The Robert Morris University of the Northeast”
That is how RMU President Chris Howard often refers to his alma mater, now that he has had some time to get a feel for how the schools integrate with the academic and professional cultures of their respective cities.
That alma mater, from which Dr. Howard received his MBA? Harvard.
And while Dr. Howard is the first one to admit he might be a bit biased in that assessment, as he sees it, it’s not really THAT big a stretch. Having lived in both Boston and Pittsburgh, two of the premier markets in the world when it comes to their respective suite of colleges and universities, Dr. Howard has seen first hand how the variety of institutions in an area can be an invaluable asset to that region, in terms of providing places for students of that region to grow and thrive, and to fuel the pipeline for those students to be an impactful asset to local businesses upon graduation.
And while Harvard University’s reputation speaks for itself, Dr. Howard’s work in the two years since taking over as the eighth President in the history of Robert Morris University has done plenty of talking. In a town where RMU had long taken a backseat to the likes of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University in the hierarchy of academic institutions, Dr. Howard’s leadership has provided the school a significant boost in its status, ensuring RMU’s place front and center in the conversation about what Pittsburgh has to offer from an academic standpoint.
And it only stands to reason, as “leadership” has long been a calling card for Dr. Howard, a Rhodes Scholar. While his MBA was from Harvard, he earned his undergraduate degree from the Air Force Academy, where he was Class President, and a cadet group commander. In addition, he excelled on the football field as well, becoming not only a First Team Academic All-American as a running back for the Falcons, but also the inaugural winner of the Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award given to a college football player, taking into account the combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance, paving the way for future Campbell winners like Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow.
After earning his MBA at Harvard, and his doctorate from Oxford, Dr. Howard served as a helicopter pilot in the Air Force before becoming an Intelligence Officer for the Joint Special Operations Command. At the request of then-Defense Secretary William Cohen, Dr. Howard accompanied a 1999 U.S. military delegation to South Africa as an advisor., before returning to active duty a few years later in Afghanistan, for which he was awarded a Bronze Star.
And that leadership continues to this day in his role as President at RMU. Among the school’s initiatives since Dr. Howard took over is the upcoming development of an Energy Innovation Center in Uptown Pittsburgh, geared towards educating those who have lost their jobs or who have been displaced from other industries. Also under Dr. Howard’s watch is the development of the UPMC Events Center, a state-of-the-art facility for not only the indoor sports teams, but also conferences and events, with the goal to make the RMU campus a destination for entertainment as well. Plus, Dr. Howard has served as a champion for the school’s many veteran-based initiatives, from discounted MBA’s for members of nearby bases to programs aimed towards providing tuition-free education for veterans.
On this edition of “The Raja Show“, Dr. Christopher Howard joins Raja to discuss the role that he sees Robert Morris University serving in a crowded academic market in Western Pennsylvania, and the steps he plans to take to get there.
Listen to Raja’s interview with Dr. Howard here.