MOBILE, Ala. — The University of South Alabama will celebrate its 50th Anniversary on May 3 — 50 years to the day since USA was created by legislative act in 1963. The event will include a tribute to President Gordon Moulton, whose career spanned most of that period, including 15 years as president overseeing USA’s phenomenal growth.
The 50th Anniversary celebration will take place at 6:30 p.m. on campus at Moulton Tower and Alumni Plaza. It will feature food, music and fireworks; memories of the University’s early years; recognition of faculty and their teaching, research, scholarly activity and creative works; and a video presentation of USA’s first half century. A new book, featuring nearly 200 pages of historic and modern photographs and first-hand accounts of the University’s beginnings and growth, will be given to those who attend.
Gov. Robert Bentley, along with several other local, state and federal leaders, will speak.
The event is free and open to the public. Dress is business casual. In case of rain, the event will be held in the Mitchell Center arena.
The University of South Alabama was established when there was no other public, four-year, degree granting institutions in the region. Civic and business leaders recognized the importance of a university to the region’s success and pushed for its creation.
From a single-building campus in west Mobile, the young university quickly expanded, established a medical school and today is recognized as a vibrant, competitive teaching and research institution.
USA has had a transformational impact on the region, with:
- 75,000 degrees awarded.
- 15,000 students currently enrolled.
- 250,000 patients treated annually.
- 5,500 employees.
- $400 million in annual payroll, one of the area’s largest.
- $2 billion in economic impact each year.
James A. “Jim” Yance, chairman pro tempore of the USA Board of Trustees, remembers walking onto the University of South Alabama campus as a student in the 1960s.
“USA was a start-up. But from the beginning, the University of South Alabama had something that I knew would guarantee its success,” Yance said. “USA was blessed with faculty and staff who truly cared about their students and were dedicated to their success. As USA over the past five decades has expanded into research, health care, economic enhancement and so many other areas, USA’s original commitment to meeting the needs of people has remained its hallmark.
“As we celebrate USA’s 50th Anniversary, I sometimes have trouble fully comprehending the remarkable progress our University has made. I look at the modern campus and am moved by the tens of thousands of lives we touch each day through teaching, research, health care, and service.”
The impact on the region has been profound.
“The creation and operation of this University is the single biggest economic development in Mobile’s history,” said Robert Edington, who backed the University’s creation as a member of the state Legislature in 1963.
The May 3 celebration will include a tribute to President Moulton, who will retire July 1. He was appointed USA’s second president in 1998 following the retirement of Dr. Frederick Palmer Whiddon.
University of South Alabama President Gordon Moulton
Arriving when the University of South Alabama was just three years old, Moulton joined USA’s business faculty in 1966.
Before becoming president in 1998, he served as director of the USA computer center, founding dean of the School of Computer and Information Sciences and vice president for services and planning.
During Moulton’s presidency, USA has dramatically enhanced its educational, health care, research and economic development contributions to the state and the Gulf Coast region. Under Moulton, USA’s enrollment has grown by more than one quarter to 15,000, and the number of degrees awarded has almost doubled to more than 75,000.
Moulton led the development of the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute — the largest research endeavor in the institution’s history. The USA Health System, which consists of USA’s College of Medicine physician practice, USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, the USA Medical Center, and the Mitchell Cancer Institute, now provides more than 250,000 patient treatments annually.
USA’s external funding for research has reached record levels under Moulton, who also led creation of the USA Research and Technology Park, home to 16 technology based firms and 600 private sector employees.
USA now employs more than 5,500 and has an annual economic impact of more than $2 billion. USA generates $7 for every dollar appropriated to it by the state. Moulton’s tenure as president has included an ambitious campus building program valued at some $500 million, supporting the institution’s teaching, research, service and health care missions.
In addition to other enhancements to academic and student life, USA under Moulton created an NCAA football program and a marching band program.
“One cannot overstate the impact Gordon and Geri Moulton have had on the University of South Alabama and on USA’s remarkable enhancement of the quality of life of the Gulf Coast region and beyond,” Yance said.
“Under the leadership of President Moulton, the University has achieved significant milestones in every area, including student enrollment and graduation, academic program development, health care delivery, enhancement of student life and the campus environment, research funding, private sector giving, community involvement and economic enhancement.”
President Moulton has “transformed the University into one of the nation’s finest educational institutions, a community partner that sets the tone of excellence, and he has created an economic development engine at the University that provides countless jobs and resources for citizens throughout Mobile and the region,” said USA trustee and Mobile Mayor Sam Jones.