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Getting to Know DeVry University President Rob Paul

By DeVry University

DeVry University president Rob Paul may be new in his role but he’s no stranger to the DeVry Education Group family. Paul joined DeVry University as vice president of metro operations in 2007 and later became president of Carrington Colleges Group, part of DeVry Education Group. With two decades of education experience, he’s bringing a strong foundation, invigorated spirit and a strategic vision to the DeVry University leadership team.

We recently sat down with Rob to say “hello.” Here’s an inside look at our new president:

1. What was the first thing you did after accepting the position of president at DeVry University?
I hugged my family and said, “Back to Chicago we go!” We then did a quick inventory of our winter clothes, which had not been worn for a few years while living in Phoenix. We know we’ll be bundled up in them again soon.


2. What was the last book you read?
Jim Collins’ Great by Choice. In it, Collins explains how some organizations are able to remain successful over time, regardless of external circumstances in the economy.  

Given your background, how would you describe the state of higher education in the United States?
Higher education today is at a turning point. Colleges are being challenged to update curricula to better match the needs of employers. A significant “skills gap” has developed between what is taught and the competencies and skills employers actually need on the job. At DeVry University, we’ve worked very closely with employers to keep our curriculum relevant to ensure our graduates possess the skills necessary to work in their field after graduation.

What do you see as your biggest challenges?
The slow recovery of the economy is proving to be a challenge for prospective students considering enrolling in college. Some have even begun to question the value of a college education. I would like to confidently reassure students that a college degree continues to be solid investment, even during tough economic times. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center report indicates that the earnings gap between those holding a high school diploma and those holding a bachelor’s degree is higher now than in any previous generation. Not only that, having a college degree positively impacts job satisfaction and decreases the likelihood of being unemployed.[1] The return on an investment in higher education remains as strong as ever.

5. How do you stay sharp?

Staying sharp is a balance of taking care of mind and body. First, I never stop being a student. I set aside at least 30 minutes every day to read articles and books related to higher education and leadership. Second, I try to stay healthy. I do my best to eat right and hit the gym at least four days a week.

6. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve ever heard was from author Zig Ziglar who said, “You get what you want by helping others get what they want.”

7. What advice would you give to college graduates trying to stand out in their workplace?

Become known as the person who gets stuff done. Before you can become the CEO, you must excel at the job you have today. Commit yourself to becoming the best [insert your current job title here] in the company. With time, you will develop a reputation for success and promotions will follow.    

8. How do you think technology will impact education in the next 10 years?

For more than 80 years, DeVry has been synonymous with technology.  This will not change in the future.  We will continue to prepare our graduates for success in technology-related careers. In addition to offering technology-focused programs and courses, we will enhance the teaching and learning experience inside our classrooms (both online and on campus) by introducing educational technologies such as competency-based education, adaptive learning, simulation, gamification, and others.

9. How do you relax?

My favorite ways to relax are very action-oriented.  Working out at the gym, biking and hiking or shooting hoops on my neighborhood basketball court are ways you’ll find me unwinding.  I’m also a big fan of mixed martial arts (MMA), so I always enjoy “relaxing” ringside at UFC events.

10. What was your favorite class in school?

My favorite class in high school was called “Advanced Grammar and Composition.” I know, it doesn’t sound fun. It was a writing-intensive class and I love writing. In college, I majored in English, which might explain why I enjoyed a class with such a foreboding title as a teenager.