Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, S.J., announces plans for retirement

Fri, 04/18/2008 (All day)

Mobile, Ala. – Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, S.J. has announced to the Spring Hill College Board of Trustees that he will retire as president of the college on June 1, 2009.  Fr. Lucey became the college’s 37th president on June 1, 1997. This year marks his 12th year as president.

In his letter to the trustees, Fr. Lucey wrote in part, “For 11 years it has been my privilege and an honor to serve as the President of Spring Hill College. This has been for me a graced time. I am deeply grateful to God, the Board of Trustees and the community of Spring Hill College for this opportunity to bring my God-given gifts and my experience of years in leadership to the challenges of the presidency of the college in the evening of my life. 

“We have been successful in meeting those challenges because we have worked together in partnerships. Spring Hill College is a different place from what it was a decade ago; it has been transformed physically, financially and academically. Spring Hill College has not known a better time in its 178-year history because of the commitment, dedication and generosity of members of the Board of Trustees, of the Jesuits and of the senior leadership, of the faculty and staff, the students, the alumni and friends of the college.”

With a “Vision for the College on the Hill,” Fr. Lucey set into motion plans that have led to record enrollments, and the implementation of a comprehensive Campus Master Plan that led to an investment of more than $100 million in new construction and renovations.  These projects transformed the college over the past 11 years. Numerous buildings, including the Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library, a restored St. Joseph Chapel, Nan Altmayer Place, New Residence Hall, the Viragh Residence Hall Complex, the Rydex Commons, a remodeled Fine Arts Center, and planned Campus Center are among the major projects Fr. Lucey initiated.

In his written piece, “Vision for the College on the Hill,” Fr. Lucey wrote: “Inside and outside the classroom, we introduce our students to a wide range of perspectives and encourage them to think critically and reflect inwardly about who they are, what they believe and the contribution they hope to make to the world as it is and as it will become.  We emphasize preparation for professional excellence through diverse and comprehensive learning opportunities.”

“Through visionary thinking and strategic directives, Greg Lucey truly elevated Spring Hill College to a new level of living and learning for students,” said Jack Schuessler, chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees. “With his leadership, charisma and determination, he helped the college reach new heights of quality and success and be effective in achieving its most important mission, developing leaders in service to others.”

Alumni and friends of the college have made sure Fr. Lucey’s vision would be remembered in a special way.  Construction is under way for renovation and restoration of the historic Administration Building. Scheduled for completion in 2009, the building will be named the Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, S.J. Administration Center, in honor of Fr. Lucey's leadership, vision and contributions to the college.

Fr. Lucey has been an active force in Mobile since he assumed the college presidency and has been firm in his belief that the college plays an important role and has an obligation in making Mobile a better community. In 2005, the Civitan Club of Mobile named Fr. Lucey Mobilian of the Year in recognition of his achievements.

One of Fr. Lucey’s important goals has been to enrich the Spring Hill experience for every student while making the 178-year-old institution a premier, residential, Catholic liberal arts college in the Jesuit tradition. Spring Hill College is ranked 11th among the 120 Southern colleges and universities granting master’s degrees, according to the 2008 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.” The college is also ranked 8th among only 15 schools listed in the South’s “Great Schools, Great Values” category, campuses that offer quality academic programs, affordable tuition and significant financial aid.

Spring Hill’s traditional undergraduate enrollment has grown from approximately 930 undergraduate students in 1997 to more than 1,160 today. Total enrollment of undergraduate, graduate, and non-traditional students is now more than 1,500.

The class of 2011 includes students from 24 states and 30 percent rank in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, while 62 percent rank in the top 25 percent of their graduating class.

Student success has been apparent in the past 11 years. In addition to an excellent placement record of students into medical, dental and law schools, education majors have a 100 percent success record in job placement, more than 30 percent of graduates enroll in graduate programs, and nursing and business students continue to score high on national tests.

Fr. Lucey has directed a number of academic program initiatives during his term including the Spring Hill’s first online degree program, a master’s degree in nursing, and launching online courses in theology with ecclesial ministry programs for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and other dioceses. Sixty-four percent of the present faculty has been hired during Fr. Lucey’s presidency. The size of the faculty has increased from 60 to 85 since 1997, and more than 86 percent of the faculty hold terminal degrees. He has also championed numerous faculty and staff professional development initiatives.

Ensuring financial strength of the College has also been a focus of Fr. Lucey’s presidency. The college’s endowment has more than doubled during his tenure, from $23 million to nearly $50 million.

Alumni and friends who have visited the campus over the past 10 years have seen the transformation of the college unfold. Examples include:

St. Joseph Chapel Restored
St. Joseph Chapel, the most recognized building at the center of the college, honors the tradition of Catholic and Jesuit education in the Mobile area.

Nan Altmayer Place
The former Moore Hall was renovated and expanded to house the admissions office and the offices of the president and the executive vice president.

The Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library 
The library holds nearly 200,000 volumes and 140 computers. With flexible spaces and resources for teaching and learning the Burke Memorial Library is at the center of the academic excellence at the college.

Viragh Hall Complex
Two modern residence halls with common areas in a beautiful setting provide rooms for more nearly 300 students.

New Hall
The new residence hall features 222 beds arranged in a mix of single and double rooms and includes a laundry facility and multiple common spaces.

Byrne Memorial Hall
One of the most recognizable buildings on the college campus, Byrne Memorial Hall, formerly the Thomas Byrne Memorial Library, has been redesigned and renovated to serve as a welcome center for alumni and friends and to house the college’s alumni, development and communications and marketing offices. Byrne Memorial’s great hall has been renovated to serve as a hall for lectures and other campus events.

A Wisconsin native, Fr. Lucey entered the Society of Jesus in 1951 and was ordained in 1964. Prior to coming to Spring Hill, Fr. Lucey served as president and chairman of the board of the National Jesuit Conference based in Washington, D.C. from 1994-1996. He served as rector of the Jesuit community at Marquette University (1989-1994) and vice president for development at Seattle University (1978-1988). He received a Ph.D. in educational lhughesistration from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, an M.A. in liturgy from the University of Notre Dame, as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in philosophy from St. Louis University.

Fr. Lucey founded and served as director of Marquette’s Center for Ignatian Spirituality, and in 1995 he attended the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus as one of 200 delegates worldwide. He celebrated his 75th birthday in January.  

The Board of Trustees has initiated a search process for a new president.