Becoming an attorney was his first dream. But when Robert Riley, Ph.D., realized he could be a perpetual student by becoming an academic, he went for it. Now, nearly three decades after starting his first job in higher education as an economics professor, Dr. Riley is thrilled to be the new provost and vice president for academic affairs at St. Joseph’s College.
“When I learned about the position here, I did my homework and was immediately impressed by what I saw,” said the Minnesota native, who previously served as vice provost for academic affairs at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. “The commitment to an affordable, value-oriented education for all students really stood out.”
Along with appreciating the mission of the College, Dr. Riley said it was the Sisters of St. Joseph influence that first hooked him.
“My mother was a first-generation college student, who was raised by a single mom — and lots of aunts and uncles — on the family farm in Minnesota during the Depression,” said Dr. Riley, who earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991. “She was lucky to have been spotted by the Sisters of St. Joseph nuns in her small town, who helped get her to St. Catherine in St. Paul for a nursing degree.”
Preparing for His First Semester
While there has been a lot for Dr. Riley to learn since his start at the College on July 1, he’s enjoyed every step of the way.
“I work with people from all across both campuses, so it’s important that I understand what they do, and what their successes and challenges are,” he said. “The whole team is needed to help students thrive. As part of this, I am taking time to learn about faculty interests, their work with students and the system of shared governance. I’ll see much more of this over the next year.
“At first, it is information overload,” Dr. Riley, an avid reader and backgammon player, continued. “But that is a
small price to pay for being able to meet so many people who are genuinely committed to the mission and who
see my success as their success, as well as a success for our students.”
When I learned about the position here, I did my homework and was immediately impressed by what I saw.” –Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Riley, Ph.D.