Reinhardt’s Board of Trustees appointed Mark A. Roberts, Ph.D., as the 21st President of Reinhardt University. Dr. Roberts assumed his role on April 7, 2021.
"The Board of Trustees embodies a strong sense of purpose and is deeply committed to the ideals of private higher education and the mission of Reinhardt University,” said Ken White, Chairman of Reinhardt’s Board of Trustees. “We are pleased to announce Dr. Mark A. Roberts as our 21st President, a leader who will uphold the values of Reinhardt and who, with great care, will impact the lives of our students and the entire Reinhardt community. The Board took their responsibility seriously in making this selection and invited the community, faculty and staff, and alumni leaders into our process. Throughout Dr. Roberts's distinguished career, and during the past several years as Reinhardt's Provost, Executive Vice President and Interim President, Dr. Roberts has proven to be a highly respected and effective leader who can guide and elevate Reinhardt during a time of tremendous opportunity in providing the education for today's students to thrive in a very complex and changing world. We are grateful for his service to Reinhardt and look forward to his tenure as our President."
Jim Hasson, Chair of the Leadership Committee of the Reinhardt Board of Trustees, shared, “Dr. Roberts has the proven qualities needed by Reinhardt both during the present pandemic and over the extended future. He is respected by students, faculty members, community members, and University staff, as well as the Trustees. His academic qualifications and organizational abilities prove of great value to Reinhardt.”
Under President Tom Isherwood, Roberts was hired in 2013 as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. He made history when then President Kina Mallard named him Reinhardt University’s first Provost in January 2017. Soon after, he was promoted to Executive Vice President — just two years into his provost position. In these roles, and among many accomplishments, Roberts integrated student affairs and academic administration, leading to an improved first-year experience and increased retention rates. Working with a motivated and innovative faculty and staff, Dr. Roberts led the University to strengthen the Reinhardt student experience to ensure the education of “the whole person” and advance the vision to create a place “where each student thrives.”
To the position of president, Dr. Roberts brings twenty-five years of private higher education experience and intentional preparation for the role. In 2019, he completed the Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission program – a year-long immersive experience of mentorship and study for prospective college and university presidents with the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). At the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Roberts led the university successfully through its initial crisis response, and in July 2020, the Board named him Interim President. He has since guided Reinhardt’s community in a year like no other, encouraging persistence, vigilance and grace under pressure — while mitigating the risk of COVID-19 on campus. In his own right, Dr. Roberts, as the university’s leader, continues to celebrate victories as sure steps toward overcoming obstacles imposed by the pandemic.
“I am very grateful to the members of the Board of Trustees for their confidence in my leadership. Their engagement and collaboration throughout these trying times have been of strategic importance and, quite frankly, inspiring to me. I also must recognize Reinhardt faculty, staff and students. Their devotion and openness to innovation has been the guiding light that allows the university to persist and grow despite many obstacles. I am humbled to serve as president of this great learning community.”
Dr. Roberts’s tenure at Reinhardt has been one of expanding opportunity and leading growth. Since 2013, Dr. Roberts has worked collegially with faculty and staff to secure grants in support of academic excellence. Included in these successes are grants from the Goizueta Foundation, National Science Foundation, Department of Justice, and National Endowment for the Humanities. Among his many achievements in program development, in collaboration with Reinhardt faculty, Dr. Roberts has strengthened and launched an academic school, several degree programs and an academic center: Reinhardt’s Cauble School of Nursing & Health Sciences, the Etowah Valley Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing, the Master of Science in sport administration & leadership, and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning (CITEL). Through CITEL and its Goizueta Foundation funding, Dr. Roberts, on advice from faculty, approved the development of the Lightboard Studio. The studio enables faculty to record visually appealing video lessons, much like using a whiteboard in the classroom. The studio has been a tremendous asset for faculty and students, especially in meeting the challenges of the pandemic.
Dr. Roberts’s creativity is also evident in his focus on developing educational opportunities for working professionals. “I completed my doctoral degree while holding down a full-time professorship during the day, teaching adult-learners at night, and homeschooling and raising four children with my devoted wife, Kelley,” Roberts said. “I have a great admiration for adult learners.” To support these students, Dr. Roberts paved the way for Reinhardt to launch the 100% online Bachelor of Business Administration and revamp the Master of Public Administration to center the curriculum on developing law enforcement leaders in the state of Georgia.
In addition to service at Reinhardt, Roberts has assumed several unique responsibilities that offer significant opportunities and global exposure for Reinhardt. One of these includes serving as editor of the James Dickey Review, an annual literary journal with university library subscribers from around the world. The journal publishes some of the most important voices writing today and contributes to the on-going scholarship of the enduring work of Georgia writer, James Dickey.
Coming from humble beginnings, Roberts is a native of Maryville, in east Tennessee, where he grew up on a 50-acre family farm. Inspired by a high school trip to Shakespeare’s home, he attended Middle Tennessee State University to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English literature and language. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities at the Union Institute and University, an institution modeled on the one-to-one tutorial Oxford College model. He has served as a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow studying Appalachian culture, a duPont fellow at the National Humanities Center, studying cultural globalization, an American studies fellow at prestigious Salzburg Seminars in Salzburg, Austria, and a fellow in the John S. Knight Writing Seminar at Cornell University. His scholarly publications and presentations focus on Appalachian cultural identity and American poetry. A creative writer at heart, Dr. Roberts has numerous poems published in literary journals and poetry anthologies.
“My goal for the University in the short-term is to steer the institution through the challenges imposed by the global pandemic while remaining true to our higher education mission. I am a big picture thinker. When I think about Reinhardt, I imagine what the university should look like in 2033, at its seminal 150 years of existence. I have my own ideas of how it should grow into its full potential, but I also need the input of the good people who constitute the fullness of Reinhardt’s essence — its students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, friends, and board members. With the University community and my leadership team, I am eager to define, shape and implement that vision.”
Dr. Roberts’s colleagues recognize his effective leadership, his devotion to broad, intellectual inquiry, his belief in the power of people who band together under a unified purpose, and his love of teaching and inspiring students. Among his peers, he is often praised for his efforts to combine the best of a broad higher education experience with the “knowledge-needs of the community” and for espousing private higher education as an undeniable public good.
Dr. Harold V. Hartley III, Senior Vice President for the Council of Independent Colleges, shared, “The Council of Independent Colleges congratulates Dr. Mark Roberts on his appointment as president of Reinhardt University. Dr. Roberts is deeply committed to independent higher education and its potential to transform the lives of students, especially those from underserved communities. He is a thoughtful and collegial leader who understands both the broader trends impacting all of higher education as well as the particular circumstances that can shape the future of Reinhardt University.”
“Dr. Roberts has extensive experience fostering academic and industry collaborations,” said President of the Georgia Independent College Association Jenna Colvin. “His talent and energy will be valuable additions as Reinhardt moves forward.”
Roberts and his wife Kelley live in Waleska, Georgia. They have 4 adult children - Taylor, Raynah ’21, Zoe ’19, and Jayden - and one grandchild, Nara. We can’t forget, too, the Reinhardt star in his own right - Wilson, the family canine companion.
The inauguration of Dr. Roberts will take place in Fall 2021.