The University of South Alabama seeks an innovative and accomplished leader who will have a proven ability to comprehend and address the distinct needs and interests of a complex, comprehensive, public institution.
Preferred characteristics include: a record of successful leadership at an institution similar to USA, a leading research institution with a major academic health system; an earned doctorate in an appropriate discipline or, in lieu of a doctoral degree, outstanding training and an exemplary record of success in the administration of a large educational institution; a team-oriented and consensus-building style of decision making; a supportive, diverse and inclusive style of thinking; and a passion for supporting faculty as they prepare students for productive and successful lives.
The complete Leadership Statement follows on this page, or may be downloaded in PDF format.
The University of South Alabama (USA) is a dynamic academic and healthcare community that supports and challenges its members to be engaged citizens of the Gulf Coast region and the world. Founded in 1963, serving the Gulf Coast, the south Alabama region and beyond, and located in the diverse coastal city of Mobile, Alabama, USA is now home to more than 14,000 students and almost 7,000 employees, and offers more than 100 academic programs. The vision of South, as the University is informally known, is to foster an environment that couples engaging learning experiences with high-level research, enabling faculty and students to be leaders in their disciplines.
A comprehensive university with a Carnegie classification of “Doctoral Universities: High Research Activity,” USA has created an environment that supports curiosity and discovery. A University of South Alabama education provides opportunities for students to explore and develop interests that build the foundation of lifelong career paths. With more than 50 undergraduate degree programs — from chemical engineering to criminal justice to theatre arts — South provides a wealth of avenues for discovery. Through graduate study in 53 master’s and 14 doctoral programs, students focus on specific areas of learning and research to gain specialized skills.
USA researchers are problem-solvers and pioneers in developing new technologies and promoting bold ideas, and faculty often collaborate across disciplines to address issues and uncover new fields of inquiry. The outcomes are high-quality research and scholarship, new information and opportunities, the transformation of traditional disciplines, new global partnerships, and innovations that benefit society. The University currently generates over $100 million in sponsored research and receives significant licensing royalties and fees each year.
South is often described as a university with all the advantages of a major research institution coupled with a small-campus feel. Nearly 75 percent of courses are taught by full-time faculty, a very high rate for a research-intensive institution, and the student-faculty ratio is 17:1. The average ACT score of the Fall 2020 entering freshman class of 1,577 students was 23.9 and the average GPA was 3.71, with more than 200 entering freshmen scoring higher than 30 on the ACT.
USA offers early acceptance programs that provide highly qualified high school seniors with conditional acceptance into the College of Medicine, College of Nursing, Department of Physical Therapy, or Department of Psychology. The USA Honors College, which opened in 2017, is a community of interdisciplinary excellence designed to stimulate the thinking and intellectual curiosity of highly motivated students. In addition to the main academic campus, the University also has a Baldwin County campus across Mobile Bay in Fairhope, Alabama.
USA includes the USA Health System, which is the region’s only academic health system, serving the area through University Hospital, Children’s & Women’s Hospital, the Mitchell Cancer Institute, medical offices staffed by clinical faculty from the College of Medicine and a growing number of community-based physicians and providers. University Hospital offers the region’s only Level I trauma center, recently expanded into the state-of-art Fanny Meisler Trauma Center, as well as the Arnold Luterman Regional Burn Center, both nationally ranked. Children’s & Women’s Hospital delivers more than 2,500 babies every year, providing the region’s most advanced neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care as well as a broad range of pediatric specialties. The Mitchell Cancer Institute is the only academic cancer research and treatment facility in the region, and USA Health has more than 20 locations across Mobile and Baldwin counties. Health education at USA includes one of Alabama’s two Colleges of Medicine, along with the College of Nursing and the Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions.
USA is a committed community partner and recognizes that engagement with the community enriches scholarship and research, enhances teaching and learning, prepares a dedicated workforce, strengthens civic responsibility and contributes to the public good. The Office of Community Engagement (OCE) connects community members to the many cultural, educational, research and entertainment resources available at USA. The OCE also assists students in attaining opportunities for experiential learning through internships, service-learning and volunteerism, and provides professional development for faculty and staff seeking to improve their community engagement skills.
Students enjoy an outstanding experience on the beautiful, tree-shaded main campus, which has been transformed over the past decade with new facilities and resources for teaching, housing and recreation, health sciences, the arts, engineering, computer science and athletics. The landscape includes cultivated flower gardens, walking paths and groves of pine trees, miles of bike trails, indoor and outdoor pools, and a disc golf course. The main campus is home to dozens of works of public art, many of them part of the Gwin Sculpture Collection, while more than 50 sculptures comprise the Geri Moulton Children’s Park, located in a wooded setting along the entrance drive to USA Health Children’s & Women’s Hospital. Major facilities on campus include the Mitchell Center, a 10,000-seat multipurpose arena, the new MacQueen Alumni Center, and a state-of-the-art Health Simulation building.
In athletics, the USA Jaguars field 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the Sun Belt Conference. South’s nearly 400 student-athletes combine athletic skills with academic achievement, demonstrating excellence on the field and in the classroom. The Jags were awarded the Sun Belt Conference’s Vic Bubas Cup, given to the school with the top all-around athletic program, for four consecutive years from 2015-18, and have earned the honor a record 14 times overall. In 2020, USA played its first football game in the new Hancock Whitney Stadium, a 25,000-seat on-campus venue and host of the Senior Bowl, that joins Stanky Field and Jaguar Field to create a beautiful array of sports venues. The University of South Alabama is located on the beautiful Gulf Coast in Mobile Alabama. A diverse and vibrant city with a population of over 188,000, Mobile experiences short winters and boasts a vibrant downtown, nearby beaches, a rich history and a unique culture. It is also a hub of economic activity, especially in the aviation/aerospace, chemical, shipbuilding, and hi-tech sectors. Major employers include Austal Shipbuilding (Australia), Evonik Chemical (Germany), and Airbus (France), which operates a fabrication facility to assemble its A320 and A220 line of passenger jets close to downtown Mobile. USA is an integral part of this growth and partners with many external firms in the local community to provide internships, co-ops, and research.
In its 58-year history, the University of South Alabama has had only three presidents, Frederick P. Whiddon from 1963-1998, V. Gordon Moulton from 1998-2013, and Tony G. Waldrop from 2014-2021. The current president announced his retirement in February of 2021 and the search for his successor has commenced.
President Waldrop’s tenure was marked by a five-part strategic plan aimed at improving student access and success, enhancing research and graduate education, improving healthcare, growing international programs, and increasing engagement with the Mobile and Gulf Coast community. This plan also formed the basis for the University’s Upward & Onward fundraising campaign, which concluded last year by raising nearly $161 million, substantially exceeding its $150-million goal.
Since 2014, the University has enrolled the highest-achieving freshman classes in its history and improved academic advising, academic facilities, housing, and student life, leading to higher retention and graduation rates. USA launched the Pathway USA partnership with regional community colleges, opened USA’s Honors College, and added the new Global USA division to manage international programs.
Recent campus enhancements include a new residence hall, a new student health center, a new clinical simulation program building and a new alumni center, as well as new and upgraded athletic facilities that include Hancock Whitney Stadium, the Jaguar Training Center, and renovations to the track and field and softball stadiums. These new facilities join other excellent on-campus venues such as Shelby Hall, a state-of-the-art engineering and computing building (2012), a first-class Student Recreation Center (2011), a living-learning residence hall (2012), a dining hall (2012), a stellar Health Sciences Building (2009), a stunning Archeology Museum (2006), a world-class glass arts facility (2010), and the tallest bell tower in the state (2010), among many other projects.
The annual budget of the University is approximately $1.1 billion, with about 65% related to USA Health. In fiscal year 2020, despite the pandemic, the University experienced the best financial year in its history, for its academic as well as health operations. The University’s endowment continues to grow and is approaching $200 million. The USA Foundation, a separately governed entity, holds additional assets of approximately $400 million that are dedicated to the benefit of the University.
Over the past few years, USA Health has experienced the most significant period of enhancement and expansion in the history of the University. USA Health has added dozens of new physicians and practices to its roster of providers, expanding and improving options for patients. USA Health also opened the Strada Patient Care Center and the Fanny Meisler Trauma Center at University Hospital, is currently building a freestanding emergency facility in West Mobile opening in December of this year, and expanded the University’s footprint in Baldwin County with the new USA Mitchell Cancer Institute Clinic and recently announced plans for the new Mapp Family Campus.
The University of South Alabama seeks an innovative and accomplished leader who can continue the University’s rise onto the national stage. Reporting to the Board of Trustees, the next president should be a visionary leader who recognizes the academic and health care mission of the University. Among the most important qualities desired in such a leader are:
- A record of successful leadership at an institution representative of USA’s own goals and aspirations as a leading research institution with a major academic medical center.
- The willingness and interpersonal skills to work with faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, and governmental and community leaders toward consensus-building and the development of a shared vision.
- The ability to communicate and promote that vision in ways that inspire all stakeholders to invest their expertise and resources in the project.
- A history of the successful promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion.
- A demonstrated passion for supporting faculty in their teaching, research and service, and as they prepare students to be responsible and productive global citizens.
- A knowledge of and appreciation for the unique complexities of a large public health care system along with a vision for the growth and expansion of the academic health care mission of the University in the State and Region.
The ideal candidate should be an excellent communicator, eager to engage with faculty, students, and the larger community on a frequent and meaningful basis, and have a supportive diverse and inclusive style of thinking. The candidate should also have significant financial management skills, a demonstrated commitment to transparent and participatory decision-making, a record of commitment to shared governance, and a healthy dose of public relations and media acumen.
In much the same way, it is important that the successful candidate be politically astute and able to capably represent the University before state and national lawmakers to facilitate its pursuit of public funds and, at the same time, be a consummate fundraiser capable of attracting increasingly important private sources of funding. Business and financial savvy is critical to the effective operation of an institution of higher education, especially during challenging economic times. It is, however, equally important that the successful candidate recognize the broader nature and role of a modern university. Lastly, it is preferable that the candidate have a terminal degree — and have earned tenure — in his or her academic field, along with classroom teaching experience, but it is absolutely imperative that they have the personal integrity and impeccable character to lead by example.
While applications and nominations will be accepted until a new President is selected, interested parties are encouraged to submit their materials to our consulting firm at the address below by August 1, 2021 to assure optimal consideration. Candidate materials should include a letter of interest and current resume. Please address materials to:
USA President Search
R. William Funk & Associates
2911 Turtle Creek Boulevard - Suite 300
Dallas, Texas 75219
The University of South Alabama is an EO/AA employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, religion, age, genetic information, disability, or protected veteran status.