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Foley to retire as Univ. of Mobile president

MOBILE, Ala. (BP) — Mark Foley, president of the University of Mobile, has announced he will retire in 2016 after more than 17 years as head of the Baptist-affiliated college.

Foley, 65, announced his retirement during the Oct. 8 meeting of the university’s trustees.

“Since accepting the position of president of the University of Mobile in 1998, it has been my determination that part of my responsibility is, at the appropriate time, to lead the institution carefully and effectively into the hands of my successor,” Foley said. “Just as in a relay race, the key to winning is an effective handoff, I believe now is the time to begin that handoff.”

Trustee chairman Terry Harbin said the board has formed a search committee and engaged a Nashville firm that has had success in the Christian college community. He said the process to select a new president is expected to take six to nine months.

Harbin said Foley came to the University of Mobile during a critical transition time and led it through a period of significant growth.

“Dr. Foley led us to a much more solid spiritual and financial footing, while upgrading facilities, programs and the university’s stature in the community,” said Harbin, market president of Bancorp South in Mobile. “Additionally, through his influence, Dr. Foley has expanded the understanding of the university’s mission and goals far beyond the borders of our traditional Baptist constituency and into the community at large.”

In a letter to students, faculty and staff, Foley said he will continue as president until July 31, 2016, or until a successor is in place.

“Between now and then, we will press our mission forward. Remember, to win the race, one must enter the hand-off zone at full stride,” he wrote.

Foley has served as president of the University of Mobile since 1998 and is the third president since its founding in 1961. He led in a move to intentionally integrate learning, faith and leadership in all areas of university life while raising academic standards, building new facilities and establishing programs such as the Center for Performing Arts.

During his tenure, the university invested $44.8 million in capital projects, including a recent $7 million campus enhancement program that was the most far-reaching campus-wide improvement of buildings and its 880-acre grounds since the 1970s. The university built three residence halls, added a professional recording studio and Ram Hall auditorium, and created Bedsole Commons student center. The university expanded its music program into the Center for Performing Arts, with 22 performing ensembles that tour nationally and internationally and present the annual Christmas Spectacular for an audience of thousands.

Community service was incorporated into the university’s academic programs, resulting in nationally recognized efforts such as Project Serve, an annual day of service involving more than 1,200 students, faculty and staff volunteering at more than 60 locations across two counties in south Alabama.

Foley was preceded by William K. Weaver Jr., now deceased, founding president of what was then Mobile College. Weaver served from 1961-84. The second president, Michael A. Magnoli, a member of the first graduating class, served as president until 1997. It was during Magnoli’s tenure that the school became the University of Mobile.

More than 1,500 students are enrolled in more than 40 undergraduate and graduate programs, and the university has expanded its offerings to include online programs for adult students. The university, located in north Mobile County, is on the Web at www.umobile.edu.

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  • Kathy Dean