The Auburn University Board of Trustees unanimously voted Friday to select Dean Christopher B. Roberts of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering as the University’s 21st president. Roberts will begin serving in his new role on May 16 and replaces Jay Gogue, who announced his retirement in June.
Trustee Wayne Smith chaired the 22-member presidential advisory search committee.
“Personally, I could not have been more pleased,” Smith said. “We all have every confidence that he is the right person to provide strong and thoughtful leadership that will enhance Auburn’s visibility and impact for the 21st century.”
Dean Roberts' hiring followed a nine-month national search. Roberts was selected as Auburn’s next leader for his proven record as a well-qualified and accomplished dean with great integrity, vision and an unmatched love of all things Auburn.
“I am deeply humbled and honored to be named the next president of Auburn University,” Roberts said. “Having called Auburn home for the past 28 years, I feel privileged to lead this distinguished university as we pursue even greater levels of impact and excellence. I would like to express my appreciation to the faculty, staff, students, alumni, Auburn University Board of Trustees and community for entrusting me with this responsibility. I look forward to working with the Auburn Family to build upon our strong foundation as we advance towards our goals and aspirations for the future.”
There were 60 applicants for the position. Fifteen were interviewed before the Christmas holidays. The search committee narrowed it down to five finalists who interviewed with the Board of Trustees. One candidate removed him/herself from consideration and the Board narrowed it down to three finalists.
The three finalists were then asked to come to campus publicly to meet with faculty and alumni leaders. Two of the three declined to publicly campaign for the job as it potentially could hurt them with the universities they are currently employed by if they did not get the position. Roberts was already the Dean of Engineering at Auburn so revealing that he was a finalist for the Presidential opening carried with it little career risk.
Gogue will continue in his role through May 16 when Roberts will then assume the full duties of president.
Roberts received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Missouri at Columbia. He received his master’s degree and doctorate from Notre Dame University. Since 1994, he has worked at Auburn University, climbing the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor, department chair, and Uthlaut endowed professor. He has been Dean of the College of Engineering since 2012. From 2020 to 2021 he also served as the interim Vice President of Development and interim President of the Auburn Foundation. Under his leadership, the Auburn College of Engineering has nearly doubled in enrollment.
Roberts is an expert in nanomaterials, fuel processing, and gas-expanded liquids.
Gogue earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in horticulture from Auburn. He returned to his alma mater in 2007 as the university’s 18th president and retired as president emeritus in 2017. He was appointed by the university’s Board of Trustees to serve as interim president in 2019 and appointed the university’s 20th president in 2020.
“President Gogue has served our great university incredibly well, twice,” President Pro Tempore Bob Dumas said. “During his two presidential terms, Dr. Gogue improved every aspect of Auburn’s land-grant mission. We will be forever grateful to Jay and Susie for coming out of retirement when called upon three years ago. Jay expertly led us through many challenging times these past couple of years and leaves the university well-positioned for our next president.”
As further details are determined involving the forthcoming presidential transition, the Auburn family will be kept apprised.
Auburn University describes itself as a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship and science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.
The author is a 1993 Auburn University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Animal and Dairy Science. To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.