Presidential Q-A

January 18, 2016

Gary R. Roberts ’70 returned to the Hilltop as Bradley University’s 11th president on January 1. For an introduction to his life experiences, he took a few minutes to answer a few questions for the Office of Marketing and Publications.

Here is what he had to say:

What are some of your best memories of Bradley as a student?
There are so many it’s hard to narrow it down. Obviously the College Bowl experience was unforgettable, not just going to New York five times and winning each time, but the hundreds of hours of preparation with faculty, coaches, and teammates was extraordinary. I had many classes that I thoroughly enjoyed and remember well, especially in the economics department.

What was it like to be mentored by speech team legends L.E. Norton and George Armstrong? 
Obviously, it was a terrific experience and an honor to have been involved in the early days of what is today the best speech program in the entire country. I had so much respect and affection for George Armstrong, and also Dr. Norton even though I did not know him quite as well since he had moved mostly into an administrative role by the time I was a student. They were great educators and it was truly an honor to have been here and studied with them.

What's the most exciting development on campus since you graduated? 
I’m sure there are so many things I could mention, but the most obvious is the tremendous development of the physical campus. The Hartmann Center, Dingeldine, Markin Center, Peplow Pavilion, redeveloped Westlake Hall, all of the new dormitories (the list can go on and on) have all been added since I was here half a century ago. I thought Bradley had a nice campus back then, but today it is really spectacular.

Why were you so interested in sports law? 
I wasn’t really interested in sports law. I fell into it. After I graduated from law school and clerked for a federal appellate court judge, I went to work for a large Washington, D.C., law firm that was the general outside counsel for the NFL and also did a lot of work for the National Hockey League. Fortuitously, I got assigned to work on these two accounts, and when I left practice over seven years later to go into teaching, the dean at Tulane Law School suggested that with my background I should start teaching a theretofore unheard of course in sports law. That was the start, but it was pure serendipity. I didn’t have an interest in or agenda for sports law until I got into it.

What are unique challenges of leading your alma mater? 
Ask me again in a few weeks. But I really don’t think any of the challenges Bradley is facing are unique to Bradley, and I’m confident we can meet them and achieve a great deal in the next few years.

What about Peoria are you looking forward to exploring? 
I’m very anxious to become involved in the local educational, non-profit and business communities. Meeting all the terrific people who live here and who have leadership roles in the community is something I am looking forward to a great deal.

We hear your wife is an award-winning artist. Tell us a little about her artistic excellence and how she might find a home in Peoria's fine arts community? 
My wife Donna is an extraordinarily talented woman. She has been a corporate executive at Estee Lauder Corp. and a major grocery store chain in Indiana, then took over her late husband’s commercial real estate development business that she still runs today, while at the same time being a very gifted portrait artist. She has had several private showings, exhibits at a gallery in Carmel, Indiana, and has had several notable commissions. I know she has already met some folks in the Peoria arts community and that she wants to get as involved as she can to advance the arts here in Central Illinois.

What other fun facts would you like us to know about your family? 
I have a very small family. Besides Donna and our four crazy but always entertaining dogs, my only other close relative is my 30-year old son. (I am an only child and both my parents are deceased.) My son, Andrew, is a public relations executive working out of Brooklyn, New York, who represents professional athletes, primarily boxers, but some others as well. For a few years his biggest client has been Floyd Mayweather. He has a very interesting and demanding job, and I am very proud of what he has accomplished at his young age.