The sky is the limit: Dean of School of Aeronautics retires

After five years of serving as dean of Liberty’s aeronautics program, Rick Roof is retiring at the end of this semester.

Along with School of Aeronautics staff, he helped the school flourish and reach new limits. Now, upon announcing retirement and getting ready to leave, he’s handing over the role to someone new. But his journey to this position did not happen overnight.

“It’s a God story,” Roof said. “What has happened over the past five years is an amazing testimony to the goodness of God and the plans he has for this school.”

Prior to his position as dean, Roof spent nine years in the Air Force, working on airplanes and then in operations research doing computer modeling. After leaving the service, he went on to become an industrial engineer, moving fairly quickly into general management and then as a corporate executive in a variety of industries and positions. Eventually, he worked his way through technology, data management, a dot-com, traditional manufacturing and from there, aviation.

Photo by Alyssa Stone

Roof and his wife Diana started and ran an air carrier called Companion Air — a company designed to fly people and their companions together in airplanes — for around six years.

“It was the best adventure I ever had. It was the best thing that could’ve happened,” Roof said. “We lost money, but God took that, redeemed it and took me into a company where I worked as a manager and eventually a director of operations for an intelligence surveillance group in Virginia. Then the Lord threw all of that and brought me back to school.”

Roof enrolled at Liberty to get his masters in pastoral counseling, unsure of how it would fit into his future. He then obtained a Ph.D. in organizational leadership. From there, God called him into higher education, where he started work at San Diego Christian University as the dean of students, and also oversaw all of the campus operations for the small school.

Finally, the Lord brought him back to Liberty where he began as an online chair, later moving into his current position as the dean of the School of Aeronautics.

Since taking on the role of dean, the aeronautics program has seen immense growth and positive change. According to Roof, the program has grown from 13-18% and is continuing to grow to the point where it will soon reach 800 students.

Roof credits the staff around him for the landmarks being achieved, stating that he cannot recollect being in a place filled with such a collection of talent and dedicated servants of the Lord, all gathered to pursue the same mission of training Champions for Christ.

“I think that, in all my years of careers, I have never been able to see, observe and experience God do greater things than he has here,” Roof said. “I mean, what he has done here in this school — the people he’s brought here and the people he’s kept here — there’s nothing we’ve done to create this. It has clearly been the hand of God.”

Photo by Alyssa Stone

Although his journey with Liberty seems to be coming to a close, his journey with ministry is far from over.

“I don’t expect that God will ever let me retire,” Roof said. “My heart is set on helping Christians find places of silence. I’m a strong believer in creating silent retreat experiences for people where they can just be quiet for three days. The mind chatter slows down, the distractions of the world drift away and you can finally commune with our creator in a way that you just can’t in the world. My heart is to help people findthat experience.”

As Roof steps down, a new interim dean steps up. Stephen Brinley, a Liberty alumnus, has already begun serving in the role. Both a pilot and a mechanic as well as an individual who has been around the school for many years serving as Roof’s associate dean, Roof said Brinley is more than prepared for the position.

Roof said that he believes both Brinley and the team in general are well prepared for his retirement, and he feels enthusiastic about the transition.

“You see so clearly what God does in your life in the rearview mirror,” Roof said. “I can’t see anything out of the windshield, but in the rearview mirror, it’s always clear. When I look at the past five years here, he has taken a school that was in its infancy in some ways in terms of the culture and the processes, and he’s created a powerhouse aeronautics program.”

Hess is a news reporter for the Liberty Champion

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