Dr. Chris Howard, is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Arizona State University. Howard works closely with President Crow and the other executive vice presidents to coordinate enterprise-wide initiatives and advancement, oversee ASU Enterprise affiliates, advance new enterprise relationships and opportunities, and integrate ASU Enterprise planning and strategy.
Dr. Chris Howard, is executive vice president and chief operating officer of Arizona State University. Previously, Howard served as the eighth president of Robert Morris University in suburban Pittsburgh, and before serving at RMU, Howard was President of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. He also served with the University of Oklahoma and held positions in industry and the military.
Howard served in the US Air Force first as a helicopter pilot, then as an intelligence officer, with an elite Joint Special Operations Command. He served in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star.
He is a distinguished graduate of the US Air Force Academy where Howard won the Campbell Trophy, the nation’s highest academic award for a senior college football player. He is a Rhodes Scholar and after graduation from the Air Force Academy earned a doctorate in politics from the University of Oxford. He also has an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School where he is currently is a trustee on the Harvard University Board of Overseers. He also serves on a number of boards and institutes and a Sigma Pi Phi, the oldest African-American fraternity in the United States.
His wife, Barbara Noble Howard, serves as an Arizona State University Fellow for nonprofit leadership. She also serves on several philanthropic boards and hails from South Africa. They have two adult sons.
Welcome Chris. We are delighted to have you with us.
Questions during interview
- Your journey as a leader is a fascinating and outstanding one at so many levels – and it is quite different from the traditional route taken by many university leaders. Which of these experiences stand out, in your own view, as the most important in shaping your leadership approach and success in your career?
- Arizona State has a significant online student population. In preparing for the show, I went to the ASU online website, and on the front page, you have the phrase “Same mission, same faculty, Same degree, same university” Many universities take a different approach in their online programs. Tell us why ASU has gone down this path and what do you see as its advantages.
- You have traveled widely around the world, and were recently in the Middle East at a conference that included two of our podcast guests this season. And you have excellent familiarity with the UK, Afghanistan, South Africa, and the like. Tell me about ASU’s approach to international partnerships and how your experience will shape its direction in the near future.
- You have served in leadership positions in a variety of academic institutions, including the President of Robert Morris University, which has about 5,000 students, and Hampden-Sydney College, which has about 1,000 students. You are now in a senior position at Arizona State, which is a very different institution. Tell me about your leadership and management style and how it has changed, if at all.
- It seems that you have been breaking glass ceilings and barriers all along your career. How would you balance being a role model for young professionals from African American or other minority groups in higher education and being an exceptional higher education leader for all? I saw one of your quotes many years ago, “You get beyond race in a hurry,” as you led a predominantly white-all-male college as a president.
- You have been an elite athlete, then a soldier, and now a university leader. Tell me about a few of your mentors and what led you to the field of university work.