Dr. Tony G. Waldrop began his tenure as president of the University of South Alabama with a tour of some campus faculties April 2.

USA officials accompanied Waldrop as he met with students and faculty members for the first time at the student recreation center, softball complex and visual arts studio.

“The people of Mobile have been great. They’re friendly and they’re very committed to the University of South Alabama and seeing it continue to be great,” Waldrop said. “It’s a little too early to say exactly what the leadership wants to accomplish, but there are many things being worked on that I certainly support, such as continuing to increase graduation and retention rates.”

University of South Alabama President Dr. Tony Waldrop speaks with a student during a tour of campus April 2.

University of South Alabama President Dr. Tony Waldrop speaks with a student during a tour of campus April 2.

Waldrop is only the third president in the university’s 50-year history, and brings more than 30 years of higher education experience with him.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Waldrop began joined the faculty of the department of physiology and biophysics at the University of Illinois after receiving his doctorate.

He then returned to his alma mater as UNC’s vice chancellor for research and economic development. Waldrop served as the second-highest academic officer at the University of Central Florida before accepting the position at USA.

“I’ve been able to be involved with a number universes and a number of different projects,” he said. “With every state you go through in life, you learn something. If you really learned it, you can bring it with you to the next position.”

Waldrop said he hopes his experience will lend itself to the administration and faculty at USA, which he wants see continue to compete with larger in-state universities.

As for his first take on the USA campus, Waldrop said he was impressed.

“One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is campus life,” Waldrop said. “Many studies have shown the more students are engaged, not just in class, the more their graduation and retention rates improve.”

Waldrop is officially taking the place of President V. Gordon Moulton, who passed away in September 2013 after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

Vice President John. W. Smith has served as acting president since Moulton took medical leave in February of last year.