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Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary Inaugurate New President, Rupert A. Hayles Jr., Ph.D.

September 22, 2023
Distinguished guests and the campus community gathered to commemorate the institutions’ new visionary leader

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Today, at an inauguration ceremony at Pearce Church, Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary officially welcomed Dr. Rupert A. Hayles Jr. as the 12th president of the university and fourth president of the seminary. During his inaugural address, Hayles shared his vision for the institutions, reaffirming his commitment to building upon the university and seminary’s storied heritage, mission and values, while further establishing his proficiency for driving academic, leadership and spiritual development for students through a faith-based education.

“When I think of what B.T. and Ellen Roberts have created, I feel humbled to be in this position, knowing that I am in some small way continuing their work with Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary,” Hayles said. “As institutions of higher learning, we are faced with many headwinds: enrollment, value proposition and demographic shifts. However, with the unbridled enthusiasm of faculty, staff and students, with an energetic sharing of the vision of the future that God has for us, and with an unrelenting focus on innovation, success in the future is unlimited. As Christians, whatever we do will be graced with the consistency of action and deep love for Christ and for our neighbors. I look forward to a bright future.”

After taking office in mid-July, Hayles connected with local dignitaries, constituents and partners, as well as faculty, staff and students. The campus community gathered for the Faculty and Staff Kickoff in late August, and welcomed undergraduate and adult and graduate students back to campus for the 2023-24 academic year. The incoming traditional undergraduate class is the largest since COVID. Under Hayles’ direction, the community is focused on strategic alignment across all areas of the institution through Vision 2030, a bold and innovative plan for future growth and strength.

Prior to accepting his position at Roberts Wesleyan, Hayles served in various roles at New Jersey’s Pillar College since 2019, including chief operating officer, executive vice president and, most recently, president. Prior to his career in higher education, Hayles served in the United States Air Force as an officer before transitioning to the private sector to support organizations with strategic management, organizational development and advancement, and executive coaching for more than 25 years.

During the competitive nationwide search for a new president, Hayles impressed the search committee with his broad range of experiences, capabilities, results and commitment to Christian higher education. Since taking office, Hayles has continued to voice his dedication to the mission and core values of Roberts Wesleyan and Northeastern and looks forward to leveraging his love of education, including his unique experiences in the for-cause and for-profit worlds, to drive the vision of the university and the seminary well into the future.

Several distinguished guests traveled to attend the event to celebrate the historic moment, including former presidents Dr. Deana L. Porterfield from Seattle Pacific University, Dr. John A. Martin from Texas and Dr. William C. Crothers from Michigan. Linda J. Adams, bishop of the Free Methodist Church USA, was also in attendance, joining Dr. Terry R. Taber, chair of the Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary board of trustees, and several of Hayles’ family and friends from across the U.S.

“In the post-pandemic era, colleges and universities need to address numerous challenges and issues to remain strong and relevant for students,” Taber said. “For Roberts Wesleyan University and Northeastern Seminary, the board is excited to welcome Dr. Hayles as our president with his significant experiences in corporate roles, finance and higher education. We look forward to working with him to strengthen and grow these thriving learning institutions for many years to come.”

For more information about the inauguration, including photos from the event, please visit


About Roberts Wesleyan University
Roberts Wesleyan University is New York’s leading university for character education. Committed to the development of the whole person, the institution is focused on student growth through Christ-centered education, transformational learning and service to others. With 1,579 students and a tradition of excellence since 1866, the university strives to inspire students to transform themselves and the world, and offers over 90 undergraduate, graduate and adult-degree completion programs taught by high-quality, supportive faculty. Roberts Wesleyan University also has two doctoral programs in clinical/school psychology and occupational therapy. Redhawks Athletics intercollegiate sports teams compete as members of NCAA Division II. For more information, visit

About Northeastern Seminary
Northeastern Seminary is located on the campus of Roberts Wesleyan University in Rochester, New York. Rooted in biblical and historic Christian faith, its mission is to prepare Christ-centered women and men for faithful effective service to the church and the world. With over thirty denominations and faith groups represented, Northeastern Seminary enjoys a vibrant ethos as a broadly ecumenical and intentionally multi-denominational institution. For more information, visit


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