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Magnoli’s 13-year presidency ends at University of Mobile

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–The 13-year presidency of Michael Magnoli at the University of Mobile ended during a four-hour meeting with trustees May 13.
According to a university news release, Magnoli, 50, and the 46-member trustee board had decided “it is time for the institution and the president to move in separate directions.”
The 2,700-student university is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention.
The departure of Magnoli, who had two years remaining in his contract, was “hastened” by a cash flow crunch expected to exceed $4 million over the next four months, unidentified board members were quoted as telling the Mobile (Ala.) Register daily newspaper.
The university sidestepped what officials called “a significant financial problem” when two banks agreed April 30 to expand the school’s lines of credit.
A member of the university’s first graduating class in 1967, Magnoli joined the staff four years later as director of development and in 1991 was named vice president for development. He assumed the presidency in 1984 after the retirement of the university’s founding president and current chancellor, William Weaver Jr.
Until a trustee committee names an interim president, the university will be jointly run by trustee Walter Hovell, vice chairman of the board of Mobile Gas Service Corp., and Audrey Eubanks, the university’s vice president for academic affairs.
“I’ve had a wonderful experience at the University of Mobile,” Magnoli said in the May 13 news release, “and I will do everything in my power to assis the university in the future.”
Rumors about financial problems at the University of Mobile began circulating shortly after Magnoli mailed a five-page memo to trustees March 25. In the memo, Magnoli outlined the financial situation of the university, reporting in the memo the “cash flow situation is much weaker this year than in the past … .” University officials reported the cash flow shortfall could reach $1.5 million by the end of the school’s fiscal year June 30. Additional funds would be needed to sustain the school until students return in August, providing an income stream from tuition and fees. The total shortfall could reach as high as $2.2 million.
Adding to the problem was the university’s lines of credit with two area banks, totaling $2 million. The lines of credit would have been used up before the end of the current fiscal year, necessitating a new source of funding from which to pay bills.
Meanwhile, the school has been moving ahead with capital expenditures funded out of operations. Magnoli pointed to a nearly completed academic park consisting of a cafeteria-bookstore building and two classroom buildings expected to cost about $3 million. At the 1996 annual meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention, approval was given to borrow against pledges to a fund-raising campaign in order to finance the building. Magnoli said the school has not yet borrowed those funds. University officials would not report how much money in pledges has been received to date for the academic park.
The school also operates a branch campus in Nicaragua, which had sparked controversy within the Alabama convention over funding procedures.
During Magnoli’s 13-year tenure, enrollment nearly quadrupled and several new facilities were added to the campus.

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