The Honorable Robert A. Underwood is a former member of the U.S. Congress and was the 10th President of the University of Guam. He retired from the University of Guam in August 2018.
He is President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of the University of Guam and is a distinguished educator with many publications and major presentations to his credit. He has served as a classroom teacher, curriculum writer, school administrator, elected school board member, Dean of the College of Education and Academic Vice President of the University of Guam. He served five terms as Guam’s Congressional Delegate (1993-2003) and was a senior member of both the Armed Services and Resources Committees in the U.S. House of Representatives. He authored major pieces of legislation for Guam, served as Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and was a ranking member of several panels and subcommittees. His public service and professional record reflects his passion for his homeland, commitment to high educational standards and his devotion to issues of justice and equity.
His public service includes an appointment to the National Advisory Council on Bilingual Education during President Jimmy Carter’s administration and an appointment by President Barack Obama to the National Board of Education Sciences. He also served as Chairman of the Chamorro Language Commission for over a decade and is widely acknowledged as a leading authority on cultural, educational and linguistic issues in Guam and Micronesia. He describes himself as a lifelong teacher and learner whose greatest professional satisfaction comes from being in the classroom.
In 2003, he helped create the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund and served as the first Chairman of the Board. He has worked on several research projects with the East West Center, the University of Hawaii and the Asian Pacific Center for Security Studies. He has served as a trainer for the United Nations Development Program in the Federated States of Micronesia, an observer in Ukrainian elections and as keynote speaker in international political, education and academic conferences.
Robert was born in Guam (1948) and educated in Guam and California. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Guam (1965) and received a bachelor’s (1969) and masters degree in history (1971) from California State University, Los Angeles. He holds a Doctor of Education from the University of Southern California.
While serving as a teacher in the Guam Department of Education and the University of Guam, he was a political activist in Guam by serving in leadership positions in various organizations like the Organization of People for Indigenous Rights. He was the first person from Guam to testify at the United Nations, organized demonstrations and argued forcefully for political independence, CHamoru self-determination and social change.
During his ten-year tenure as UOG President, the University became the “natural choice” for university education for Guam and the Micronesian region. He instituted a Good to Great (G2G) process for the University during which the entire UOG community made difficult decisions on program prioritization and resource management in response to changes in higher education in the United States and internationally. Under his leadership, the University broke the $100 million mark in securing resources for a single academic year, enrollment increased by 17%, tuition revenue increased by 20% and record numbers of graduates every year. He oversaw the rebranding of the institution under the Big “G,” energized the institution with “Biba UOG” and attempted to articulate a unique purpose for the region’s only higher education institution.