The Spring Hill College Board of Trustees announced today the Rev. Gregory Lucey would return to the college’s presidency effective Dec. 13, replacing Rev. Richard Salmi, who was appointed in June 2009. Lucey was president from 1997 until his retirement in 2009, but returned as chancellor this spring.

The trustees also announced Lucey will also be joined by John Barter, the college’s first chief operating officer in its 183-year history.

The role of chief operating officer “is not atypical” for colleges and universities, according to SHC Vice President for Advancement Jeff Hilperts, who also offered more information about the trustee’s decision.

“Rev. Salmi has completed his five-year term as president and the Board of Trustees recognized that we’re in a very unique moment in time with Fr. Lucey on campus and with the opportunity to have Barter as chief operating officer.”

Hilperts said Salmi “made the determination” about the change of leadership and he intends to return to Chicago, where he was previously vice president of student affairs at Loyola University Chicago. Salmi will take a sabbatical before “discerning the next steps of his professional career,” Hilperts said.

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Fr. Gregory Lucey (left) and John Barter, incoming president and chief operating officer, respectively, of Spring Hill College.

Barter is a Spring Hill College alumnus from the Class of 1968. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from Tulane University. His career includes serving as chief financial officer for AlliedSignal, now known as Honeywell Inc., and serving a three-year term as president of AlliedSignal Automotive, Inc.

As chief operating officer, Barter will oversee daily operations of the college and lead the college’s cabinet, according to a news release. The role “is essentially taking a page out of corporate governance and applying those principles to colleges and universities,” Hilperts said.

In returning to the presidency, Lucey will continue to do the work he engaged in as chancellor, to lead and define the college’s mission and identification.

“Basically he defines what it means to be a Catholic, Jesuit institution,” Hilperts said.

Prior to coming to Spring Hill, Lucey, 80, served as president and chairman of the board of the National Jesuit Conference based in Washington, D.C. from 1994-1996. He served as rector of the Jesuit community at Marquette University and vice president for development at Seattle University.

Hilperts said the trustees intend to undertake a permanent search for president after the new leadership has had an opportunity to capitalize on record enrollment and fundraising the college has experienced during Salmi’s tenure.

“There is no timeline,” he said. “I think one of their priorities is to focus on the endowment to provide the discretionary resources where the college can be proactive in planning for academic needs.”

In a statement, Board Chairman Jim McKinney said, “Spring Hill College is grateful to Fr. Salmi for the dedicated years of service, his leadership through challenging times, and his unwavering commitment to our students. Fr. Salmi has challenged the college to become a leader in Jesuit education and we look forward to seeing Fr. Lucey, John Barter and the cabinet build upon this strong foundation.”