Office Hours with John Gardner graphic with John Gardner and Rolundus R Rice

Episode 62- Becoming the Example

Office Hours with John Gardner

A rich history and emphasis on building belonging are only two of the many ways HBCUs promote student success. Rolundus Rice joins us to share how his unique perspective and experience enables him to connect with struggling students. Learn more about his work and HBCU secrets.

Guest Bio

Dr. Rolundus R. Rice is a thought leader, orator, professor and university administrator.  Dr. Rice has used these platforms to inspire thousands of students to earn high school diplomas, baccalaureate and advanced degrees by sharing his firsthand experiences as a troubled youth who spent his elementary years in the behavior and learning disorders programs in the Dekalb County School System in Metropolitan Atlanta before dropping out of high school. Rice’s “Pilgrimage to Purpose” narrative arc, which he has shared with more than 800,000 people, chronicles his life from a GED to a Ph.D. recipient.   

Dr. Rice was lured into university leadership at a young age.  At 33, he was appointed Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts at Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama — one of the youngest academic deans at an accredited four-year institution in the United States. The “Dapper Dean,” as he was affectionately referred to by his students, was responsible for leading the reorganization of the History, English, Music, Mass Media and Fine Arts curricula, respectively. He was also instrumental in securing a $1.25 million implementation cluster grant from the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Career Pathways Initiative to fund projects to increase Talladega College students’ chances of finding meaningful employment upon graduation. Dr. Rice’s subsequent work and experiences at various institutions of higher education include Chief Diversity Officer, Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Central Region Director of Adult Education and Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs at Rust College.  He is currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Tuskegee University.  

Dr.  Rice is a professionally-trained historian who has taught a variety of lower and upper division undergraduate courses, including World History, United States History, The Civil Rights Movement and American Religious History, respectively.  His research and publishing agenda are focused squarely on the Modern Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Rice’s book, Hosea Williams: A Lifetime of Defiance and Protest was recently published by the University of South Carolina Press. This book is the first scholarly biography on one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest lieutenants and organizer of “Bloody Sunday and the subsequent Selma to Montgomery March.     

Dr. Rice has also been identified as a subject-matter expert on the Civil Rights Movement who has been interviewed by CNN, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Montgomery Advertiser

As the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Dapper Dean Education Empowerment Firm, Dr. Rice sees the world as a global classroom and grooming ground for greatness. For additional information, please visit his website at

Dr. Rice graduated from DeVry University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Magna Cum Laude. He holds two advanced degrees.  Rice earned the Master of Arts in History from Alabama State University and the Doctor of Philosophy in History from Auburn University.  He is the first GED recipient to earn a Ph.D. in Auburn’s 166-year history.  

Dr. Rice is married to the former Dana Lee. They have four children: Madison, Marley, Rolundus III and Remington.

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