A respected leader and educator, Roger H. Sublett, Ph.D., has dedicated his career to helping learners, colleagues and coworkers, and entire institutions develop the confidence and skills necessary to become leaders in their fields. Dr. Sublett’s enthusiastic voice provided constant inspiration in countless boardrooms, classrooms, and seminars where he has played the role of teacher, board member, author, scholar, dean, and fellow. Now, as Union Institute & University’s fifth president, Dr. Sublett finds fresh inspiration each day in paving the way for “mature, self-motivated, socially conscious adults” to succeed in what he calls “the kind of university where we recognize the creative genius of one another and celebrate the best of the human spirit.”
Dr. Sublett was born and raised in Arkansas and attended the University of Arkansas, where he earned both a B.S.E. in history and social science, and an M.A. in history. Dr. Sublett then completed his graduate work at Tulane University, where he earned a Ph.D. with a focus in American history. He began his career in higher education when he moved to the Midwest to teach at the University of Evansville in Indiana, where he also served as a dean in the College of Alternative Programs, dean in the College of Graduate and Continuing Education, and associate vice president for Academic Affairs. During his last five years at the University of Evansville, he also served as executive vice president for the Association for Continuing Higher Education, where he provided leadership for an association that included nearly 250 colleges and universities across North America.
After immersing himself in academia as both an educator and administrator, Dr. Sublett utilized his innate leadership skills in a role that came naturally to him. In 1989, he joined the Kellogg National Fellowship/Leadership Program as associate director, and became director in 1991. The Kellogg Foundation is an alliance whose core values include “the belief that all people have the inherent capacity to effect change in their lives, in their organizations, and in their communities.” During his decade as director, Dr. Sublett strove to create a “common vision of a world in which each person has a sense of worth; accepts responsibility for self, family, community, and societal well-being; and has the capacity to be productive, and to help create nurturing families, responsive institutions, and healthy communities.”
In 2001, Dr. Sublett transitioned back into education, accepting a position as interim vice president for national undergraduate programs at UI&U. A year later, in 2002, he became chief operating officer for UI&U, and after a national search, the Board of Trustees appointed him as the university’s fifth president. As a leader with a passion for history, Dr. Sublett strives to uphold the university’s 44-year tradition as an innovator and change agent in adult higher education and foster shared values of “integrity, diversity, and flexibility.”
Ultimately, Dr. Sublett says, “I believe that UI&U will become the ‘university of choice’ for adults in changing times who want an education that makes a difference; for adults whose ambitious personal goals direct them to pursue bold dreams; for adults who seek transformational education; for adults with a passion for learning and the potential to make a difference.” Through the development of high-quality programs and the management of strong teams and efficient policies, Dr. Sublett inspires and empowers each member of the UI&U community to pursue such goals as improved academic quality and an enhanced mission of social responsibility.
Not content to inspire leadership in the classroom or office, Dr. Sublett firmly embraces the concept of servant leadership and has devoted his time over the years to numerous committees and boards, including the American Association for Higher Education; the Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) Ethics Committee; and the nationally renowned Association for Continuing Education (ACE) where he was recently named chair of the Commission on Lifelong Learning. He also serves on the President’s Forum, whose purpose is to encourage understanding across agencies and institutions on online learning initiatives. He is a founding member of Transparency by Design, a coalition of university presidents whose goal is to reflect new standards of accountability in higher education. He has also served on the Board of Trustees for Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra and the First Presbyterian Church of Battle Creek, Michigan.
Dr. Sublett’s honors include an Outstanding Service Award, given by the Association for Continuing Higher Education, as well as an honorary lifetime membership in that organization for “creative contributions and leadership.” He also received the Star Thrower Award from the Asian-American Pacific Islander Women’s Leadership Association. The Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance presented Dr. Sublett with a 2005 Spirit of Leadership Award, which is given every two years to a leader “who is compassionate, who is courageous, who is a risk-taker, and who has a talent for getting things done.”
Dr. Sublett has participated in several leadership and education conferences, speaking anywhere from California to Toronto, Canada. Dr. Sublett’s presentations frequently focus on building individual and institutional leaders, a theme that echoes throughout the four books he has written, co-authored, or edited, including Leading from the Heart (W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2001), a collection of personal accounts from Kellogg Fellows who have succeeded as leaders among their peers. In the preface, Dr. Sublett writes, “Our work is not yet done, and we must find the courage in our personal and professional lives to always demonstrate the passion to make a difference.”
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation states, “If we are lucky, we have had the chance to cross paths with an exceptional leader in our lives: someone for whom helping others comes as naturally as breathing. Some among us may even be such a leader.” Dr. Roger Sublett lives that motto and shares it with every member of the Union community, proving repeatedly that behind every successful institution is a leader who lifts everyone to higher ground to work toward the common good.