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November 15, 2023

Meet the President: Dr. Rupert A. Hayles Jr. By Hannah Limpias ‘24 (Communication)

Dr. Hayles talks with 2 students. All 3 smile.

John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” Many students and members of our community may be curious to learn more about President Hayles's leadership during his first semester at the university. I had the opportunity to sit down with him as part of my projects as the fall intern with the Brand & Marketing Communications team at Roberts Wesleyan University. When I interviewed President Hayles, he shared one of his favorite verses:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

With inspiration from this verse, let’s get to know President Hayles better, and understand his calling to Roberts, his leadership style, and more.

Read Part One of the interview below:

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and lived there for 12 years before moving to New Jersey.

Tell us about your family.

I have a wonderful wife, Maryann, and we’ve been married for 22 years. We have two kids, twins, Stephen and Savannah, who are 12 years old.

Dr. Hayles and his wife, Maryann.

Dr. Hayles, his wife, Maryann, and their children, Stephen and Savannah.

What is your Religious Background?

I grew up Pentecostal. I went to church every Sunday with my two brothers. God has a plan, and I received the Lord there. When I came to the U.S., I joined a non-denominational church for about 20 years and ended up in an Assembly of God church. As the President of Roberts and Northeastern, I joined the Free Methodist church.

Are you a coffee or tea person? How do you take it?

Tea! You’ll never see me with coffee, although I’ve tried it. I prefer English Breakfast tea plain with no milk or sugar. 

Favorite sport?

Soccer. I played in junior high and high school. I played for one college semester and said, “I’m going to the books,” and called it a day. My kids both love and play soccer. If I had to pick one, my favorite team would be Chelsea.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I align with the style in “Authentic Leadership” by Bill George. The book focuses on emotional self-awareness, balance processing, internal moral perspective, and relational transparency. I believe having that style of leadership is something that draws people towards you.

Dr. Hayles gives a speech during his inauguration.

Who are you inspired by?

My dad, the late Rupert Sr., did so many things in terms of taking care of us. When you are growing up, you never know what is happening behind the scenes. We had 7 to 8 people in our household in a small house in New Jersey; I’m one of six children. I found out later that my Dad’s salary in the late 1970’s was not enough to support us. But we never, at any time, felt like we were without. He always told me to get an education. It reminds me of Nelson Mandela's famous words about the power of education to overcome great challenges.

Be on the lookout for part two of this Q&A with the President. Releasing in December.

4 people walk facing away from the camera, including 3 students and President Hayles.

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