Spring Hill College (SHC) will be on the hunt for a new president — again.
The Mobile-based college announced late last week President E. Joseph Lee, Ph.D., will be retiring from his post with SHC in December.
This means the college will be entering its fourth presidential search in 13 years, which constitutes an average term length of three years.
Lee was brought on to serve as SHC’s interim president in August 2018 when former president Christopher Puto transitioned into an emeritus position with the college. After a year on the job, the college opted to hire Lee as its 38th president.
Founded in 1830, Spring Hill College is the oldest Catholic college in the Southeast and the third oldest Jesuit college in the United States.
Puto was hired in 2015 to take the reins from the Rev. Gregory Lucey, who stepped back in to fill the SHC president’s role for a second term from 2013 to 2015. Lucey was the college’s chancellor at the time and transitioned when the Rev. Richard Salmi retired. Salmi was named president in 2009 when Lucey retired from his first presidential term, which lasted from 1997 to 2009.
According to a press release from the college, during Lee’s tenure, the college outlined new strategic priorities, added new academic programs, strengthened its donor base and further engaged alumni and the local Mobile community.
“This decision has not been an easy one, as Spring Hill has been such an important part of my life during the last three and a half years,” Lee said, who is looking forward to spending more time with his family. “The students, faculty, staff, and the entire SHC community are absolutely the best! Now is a good time as the College is positioned for future growth and prosperity. It is with that in mind that I feel now is the time to prepare for new leadership.”
Some of the accomplishments under Lee’s tenure include:
- Successfully navigating the COVID-19 pandemic by transitioning classes to online learning.
- Establishing the Center for Online Learning.
- Adding new academic programs including Digital Marketing, Computer Science, Entrepreneurship, Sport Management and Supply Chain Management.
- Reducing Tuition by nearly 50 percent, making Spring Hill one of the most affordable private colleges in the country.
- Achieving impressive rankings, including Forbes’ top-10 list of colleges for the best return on investment, the No. 1 nursing program in Alabama, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees ranking among the best in the state.
Jack McKinney, Chairman of Spring Hill College’s Board of Trustees noted, “Dr. Lee’s leadership has been instrumental in sustaining Spring Hill College during this unprecedented pandemic environment, strengthening our existing curriculum, initiating a robust academic expansion that enhances the College’s value to our students and promoting the Jesuit identity of ‘cura personalis’ – care and respect for the entire human development. We will miss Joe, but also look forward to perpetuating his vision for Spring Hill as we carry out the selection process for our next president.”
The college’s Board of Trustees will begin a national search for the next president. When the search is complete, an SHC spokesperson said there will be a thorough plan in place to ensure a seamless transition.
Lee’s previous presidential assignments include Pine Manor College in Massachusetts, Saint Joseph’s College in Maine and Thomas More University in Kentucky. Lee also held the position of Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management for the University of Maine and was Vice President for Student Services at Merrimack College in Massachusetts.
Lee graduated from Saint Michael’s College in Vermont with a Bachelor’s degree in French Literature and a Master’s degree in Education. He attended the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University before earning his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Boston College.
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