Redeemer University College has appointed Dr. Robert J. Graham as the university’s fourth president. Graham, who holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Gerontological Studies from Miami University, brings to Redeemer ten years of experience in senior leadership at two well-respected Christian universities.
Since 2013, Graham has served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Pennsylvania’s Grove City College, a non-denominational Christian liberal arts college of about 2,300 undergraduate students. From 2008 to 2013, he provided leadership as provost at Waynesburg University, a Christian university in Pennsylvania that is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), enrolling approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students.
Known as a gifted strategic thinker, Graham has worked to develop and carry out sustainable and mission-centred strategic plans at Waynesburg University and Grove City College. For example, Graham tailored Grove City’s program offerings to meet student needs and match employer interests. Under his leadership, the college approved six new majors, 12 new minors and six interdisciplinary concentrations. Efforts like these to launch new, well-researched programs and to align admissions efforts culminated in increased 2017-18 applications and enrolment.
At Grove City, Waynesburg and Lee University, where he received his first faculty appointment as professor of sociology, Graham quickly became known for leadership rooted in each school’s values and strengths and for insight into the challenges each institution faced. At Lee, momentum built around Graham’s vision for and leadership in service learning. What started as a requirement in Graham’s introductory sociology class became a university-wide proposal and, finally, the launch of the Leonard Center for Service Learning. Graham was named the Leonard Center’s founding director. Service learning is now a graduation requirement for all students at Lee.
Graham is well-equipped to lead Redeemer as president, with experience, values and faith that align with Redeemer’s context and priorities. “Christian higher education administration is where I see the best opportunity to use the gifts that God has given me, and I see the work that I do as service and ministry,” Graham reflects. “At Lee University, Waynesburg University and Grove City College, I have become increasingly aware of the unique and evolving challenges facing Christian education. My experiences supporting different Christian institutions have prepared me to be a strong advocate for Redeemer University College.”
At the start of June, Redeemer’s Board of Governors voted unanimously for Graham’s appointment. “In his senior leadership roles, Dr. Graham has demonstrated an ability to connect with people in order to support the institutions he has served and accomplish their vision for higher education,” says Jason Schouten, chair of Redeemer’s Board of Governors. “He leads through listening, caring and connecting. Dr. Graham is enthusiastic about Redeemer’s Reformed identity and the way in which it makes Redeemer distinctive. The Board is confident that he will build on the strong foundation that is in place for the success of the university’s mission.”
Redeemer looks forward to welcoming Dr. Graham and his family later this year, pending completion of the immigration process. Graham’s wife, Cheryl, who holds a master’s degree in church music from Lee University, has served as a music director at churches in Cleveland, Tennessee, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania and Grove City, Pennsylvania. Their daughter, Corinne, is a senior art major at Waynesburg University.