E. Royster Harper is a senior advisor with the Peterson Rudgers Group. Through a four-decade career at the University of Michigan, including 18 years as vice president for student life, Harper elevated the student experience by achieving balanced, productive partnerships between student and academic life, setting a new standard in higher education. A passionate advocate dedicated to developing the whole student, Harper is an expert on student learning and development, from cultivating a more inclusive community to overseeing fundraising and construction projects.
As vice president, she was responsible for the services, programs, and facilities that supported all aspects of campus life for more than 41,000 students. Her legacy includes a nationally recognized intergroup relations program, a focus on research and assessment of student learning, establishing of a program for students in foster care that is unparalleled in the nation, and launching an adaptive sports program. During her time at U-M, she led two phases of residential life initiatives, revitalizing housing, recreational sports, the student union, and constructing a multicultural center. Harper also guided Student Life’s first fundraising campaign, generating more than $50 million in donations.
Harper holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. Before being appointed vice president in 1999, she was senior associate vice president and dean of students. Her previous roles include serving as assistant to the vice president for academic affairs and as assistant to the dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Harper continues to be involved in a number of community activities, serving on the Ann Arbor Board of Education, the board of directors of the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum, and the executive board of the Ann Arbor branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She is also actively involved in professional associations, including the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and the American College Personnel Association and is on the board of several major organizations.