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A spirit that is not afraid

Chris Roberts reflects on first months as University President

20220516, Christopher Roberts, President, First Day, Meetingsx
20220516, Christopher Roberts, President, First Day, Meetingsx

Chris Roberts started his journey as the University’s 21st president on May 16, and what has encompassed his experience thus far has been listening and learning. 

“The first few days, I really tried to focus on getting to know people,” Roberts said.

The very first meeting on his first day was with student leaders from the Student Government Association, among other organizations. The next few days consisted of a series of meetings with the University Senate, the staff council, public safety and other departments on campus as well as the chancellor and staff at Auburn University at Montgomery. 

That first day, Roberts and the students he met with spoke about many things, including improving mental health services on campus for students and affordability overall. 

“We also discussed how important it was for them to have regular ways of communicating with me,” Roberts said. “Like through SGA and other organizations, and how important it was that we have that. We talked a lot about diversity and creating an environment on campus where people feel welcomed, valued, respected and engaged.”

Roberts hopes to use these words as a mantra to reinforce the type of culture he is aiming to create on campus, similar to how the words of the Auburn Creed define the Auburn campus culture. 

Nearly 29 years ago, Roberts stepped foot on campus for the first time as an interviewee to join the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering as an assistant professor and was handed the Auburn Creed for the first time. He said that later that night, as he read it, he fell in love with the University, campus and Creed. 

Over the past few months, Roberts has gotten to know the University more than he did as the dean of the College of Engineering and is excited to continue to improve the campus for students and staff. 

“I’m extremely pleased about how committed everyone is to the work they do and supporting our students,” Roberts said. “People are really excited and proud about what they do to support students, their development and their advancement.”

Roberts also said that from his observations since he became president, he can say that Auburn is a really healthy university. 

“I’m really proud of how strong we are as a University, both in terms of the academic programs we offer but also the financial situation we find ourselves in,” Roberts said.

Roberts plans to spend the coming months doing more listening and learning, meeting with every academic department over the course of the next few semesters. 

“I’m really enjoying meeting faculty across campus, and they’re world-class,” Roberts said. “We have some amazing professors on this campus that bring rich sets of experiences from all across the world to Auburn, and I think the sky’s the limit for the University.” 

On Thursday, Aug. 18, Roberts will be holding one of his first events as president, the continuation of an event held by former President Jay Gogue: Pizza and Popsicles with the President. It will be held on the President’s Home Front Lawn from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Roberts said that he’s planning on attending a variety of different events across campus in order to engage with students. 

“I’m looking forward to experiencing a full-fledged semester in real-time and sharing that with the students, and in particular, the new first-year students that will be joining us this year,” Roberts said. “We’ll get to do this together, and experience it together.” 

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Destini Ambus | Editor-in-Chief

Destini Ambus, senior in journalism, pursuing a minor in sociology is the editor-in-chief of The Auburn Plainsman.


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