Robert Morris President Dr. Chris Howard named 2018 Armed Forces Merit Award Recipient

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Dr. Chris Howard, an Air Force veteran and Robert Morris University president, has been selected as the seventh recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.”

Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Steve Richardson, the FWAA’s Executive Director, announced here Thursday on an 11 a.m. (CT) teleconference that Dr. Howard was selected from a list of 56 nominations as the 2018 recipient by a seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials.

Kansas State and its football team was honored last November as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

“Dr. Howard has distinguished himself as collegiate football player, an Air Force veteran and now as a college president where he continues to active in the sport along with providing guidance with those men and women that serve our country,” said Ringler. “We had a list of 56 outstanding nominations for this year’s award and it is difficult to honor only one annually when we have individuals and programs that are very deserving of the honor.”

Dr. Chris Howard

Richardson added that “Dr. Howard has had remarkable career across the board. He embodies what this award is all about. Certainly, from a scholastic standpoint, he is truly outstanding as the NFF’s Campbell Award winner. Then add in the military and football sides of the equation, what more can you say? The FWAA is very excited about honoring someone of this caliber.”

Becoming the eighth president of Robert Morris University in suburban Pittsburgh in February 2016, Dr. Howard is a 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. As Rhodes Scholar, he earned a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford before graduating with an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School.

In 1990, Dr. Howard received the Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player, and he was inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their collegiate athletic careers.

Dr. Howard is a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee, the College Football 150th Anniversary Committee, and the NCAA Honors Committee.

A retired Air Force reserve lieutenant colonel, Dr. Howard served as a helicopter pilot and then became an intelligence officer for the elite Joint Special Operations Command. He served on active duty in Afghanistan in 2003 and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. Dr. Howard also served as the Reserve Air Attaché to Liberia.

As RMU president, Dr. Howard has opened the Center for Veterans and Military Families. RMU recently announced that it is partnering with the SEAL Future Fund to help active-duty and retired Navy SEALs transition to civilian careers. RMU also offers its MBA program at a deep discount to service members stationed at any of four military bases located near its campus.

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award, which is as much a testament to what we’ve achieved at Robert Morris University as it to me personally,” said Dr. Howard, who served as the president of Hampden-Sydney College, the oldest privately chartered college in the southern United States located near Richmond, Va.

“The lessons in leadership and character that I learned on the football field served me well as an Air Force officer, and that in turn has shaped my success in business and education, as well as the nonprofit and government sectors,” added Dr. Howard, who graduated from Plano Senior High School in 1987 after helping lead the1986 football team to the Texas State Championship.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas, Austin was the initial Armed Forces Merit Award recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University.

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 31 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games; FCS opening-weekend game; 14 college bowl games, 10 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and St. Petersburg, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. ESPN Events also manages the Big 12 Corporate Partner Program. Collegiate Football -Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl (Houston); AdvoCare Texas Kickoff (Houston); Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (Atlanta); Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (Tampa, Fla.); Birmingham Bowl (Alabama); Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (Florida); Camping World Kickoff (Orlando, Fla.); Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise); DXL Frisco Bowl (Texas); Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff (Montgomery, Ala.); Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl (Nassau); MEAC/SWAC Challenge (Atlanta); Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl (Nevada); New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.); SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (Dallas-Fort Worth); The Home Depot College Football Awards (Atlanta). Collegiate Basketball -AdvoCare Invitational (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); Armed Forces Classic (Fort Bliss, Texas); Charleston Classic (South Carolina); College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s (Los Angeles); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Jimmy V Men’s Classic presented by Corona (New York City); Jimmy V Women’s Classic Presented by Corona (South Bend, Ind.); Myrtle Beach Invitational (Conway, S.C.); NIT Season Tip-Off (Brooklyn, N.Y.); State Farm Champions Classic (Indianapolis) and Wooden Legacy (Fullerton, Calif.). Collegiate Softball -St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational (Clearwater, Fla.). For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA, consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. Founded in 1941, the membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and an All-America team. Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication among all those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest. Behind the leadership of President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, Executive Director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,400 members.

Media Contacts:

  • Tim Simmons, Armed Forces Merit Award Coordinator at 720/244-6580 or
  • Steve Richardson, Football Writers Association of America at 214/870-6516 or
  • Jonathan Potts, Vice President, Public Relations and Marketing, Robert Morris University, 412/216-6486 or