The Spring Hill College Board of Trustees announced today the election of Dr. Christopher Puto as the 37th president of Spring Hill College. Puto will begin his post officially on June 1. He succeeds the Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, S.J., who will continue to serve the College in a senior administrative role focusing on mission and identity.
Chairman of the Board Michael Coghlan said, “Spring Hill College is fortunate to have such an outstanding academic administrator lead us into the future. Dr. Puto has superb credentials as a business professional, educator and academic dean of two highly regarded business schools. Furthermore, as a Spring Hill alumnus, he exemplifies the mission of the College to form leaders in service to others.”
He went on to say, “The Board is deeply grateful for the work that has been accomplished through Fr. Lucey’s leadership and look forward to working with him in his new role with the College.”
During a press conference this afternoon, Coghlan also praised the Board of Trustees and their hard work during the selection process.
“It’s unbelievable how much time and energy they put into it,” he said.Puto graduated from Spring Hill College in 1964 with a degree in economics. He earned an MBA in marketing from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Duke University. He served Spring Hill College as a member of the Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2012.
“Dr. Puto brings to the presidency rich experience both as an academic and as a veteran administrator in Jesuit and Catholic higher education,” Lucey said. “Equally important, as a former trustee, he brings depth of knowledge of the issues that face the College today and as a committed alum he brings profound love and devotion to the challenges before us. He is the right person for the College at this time.”
From 2002 to 2014 Puto served as the dean and the Opus Distinguished Chair in the Opus College of Business at St. Thomas University, a Catholic, liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minn. Among his accomplishments at St. Thomas, Puto designed and introduced the university’s first full-time MBA program and first full-time M.S. in Accountancy program, as well as redesigned the flagship evening MBA program.
“When you combine (his experience) with his love of this place and dedication he has to the mission of Spring Hill College, he’s the right person at the right time to fulfill this role,” Coghlan said at the news conference. “To this point, he’s already been embraced by the students, the faculty, the staff and administration of the college.”
Prior to his tenure at St. Thomas, Puto served as professor of marketing and dean of The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, the country’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, located in Washington, D.C. In 1998 he introduced a new MBA program curriculum and initiated a curriculum redesign for the undergraduate business program. In 2 addition, he created a comprehensive strategic planning process for the school and raised $80 million in the first three years of a $150 million capital campaign.
“Saying that I am deeply honored to serve as Spring Hill’s 37th president is indeed an understatement,” Puto said. “Throughout my career I have always treasured the liberal arts education I received by the Jesuits and truly feel that it has prepared me to serve in this capacity. I look forward to working with my fellow alumni and the student and College leadership at Spring Hill to make it among the best of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the country.”
Puto has also served as associate dean and director of the MBA program, director of doctoral studies in marketing, and professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Arizona, a public research university in Tucson. His teaching experience includes serving on the faculty at the University of Michigan and Appalachian State University. In addition to his accomplishments in academia, Puto has a wide range of industry and consulting experience. Clients have included Bank of America, Eastman Kodak Company, and General Electric Company.
Puto started his career as allied sales manager at Burger King Corporation, where he contributed to developing the strategic foundations for the “Have It Your Way” advertising campaign. He has also written numerous academic journal articles and book chapters and presented at peer-reviewed professional conferences.
He received the 2002 Sheth Foundation Award for co-authoring the Journal of Consumer Research article having the most long-term impact on the discipline. This inaugural award covered the first 29 years of the Journal’s history.
“I am truly excited and honored to stand here today and accept this opportunity … thank you for bringing me home to Spring Hill College,” Puto said to conclude the press conference.
Founded in 1830, Spring Hill College is the oldest Catholic college in the Southeast and the third-oldest Jesuit college in the United States, behind Georgetown University and Saint Louis University. Throughout the world, the Jesuits are synonymous with excellence in education and a commitment to caring for the whole person – mind, body and spirit.
Located in Mobile, Spring Hill College is consistently ranked among the top 20 Southern colleges and universities in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” Spring Hill’s mission is to form leaders engaged in learning, faith, justice and service for life. For more information on Spring Hill College, visit www.shc.edu.