October 8, 2015

Meeting date: October 8, 2015

By Monde M Donaldson

Speaker: Dr. Chris Puto
President of Spring Hill College
“Re-Introducing Spring Hill”

Invocation, Song Music and Pledge
Robbie McClure called the meeting to order. Patrick Williams gave the invocation.
Gordon Kolb led the song and pledge. He was accompanied by Bill Oppenheimer.

Program
Dr. Chris Puto, the 37th president of Spring Hill College was the speaker. He holds the distinction of being the College’s first lay president in its history. He took office in June and was officially installed in late September. A 1964 graduate of the College, he first came to Mobile in 1960. He has been here many times over the years, particularly in the last decade when he served on the College’s Board of Trustees. He said
he had been preparing for this job his whole life.

Spring Hill is the oldest college in Alabama and the third oldest Jesuit college in the United States. There are 28 Jesuit colleges in the country.

He explained that Spring Hill is a residential Catholic liberal arts college, although 40 per cent of the student body is non-Catholic. One third of this year’s freshmen class was from the State of Alabama. The College received application from 47/49 contiguous states and enrolled students from 27 states and 9 countries. This fall’s group of students was the second largest in the College’s history at 415 and they had the highest academic credentials.

Dr. Puto said his goal is to gain national recognition for Spring Hill as the crown jewel of the Jesuit universities. His platform will begin by developing a strategic plan for the campus to prepare the College for 2030, the 200th anniversary of the school. There will be 48 planning units comprised of faculty and staff members who will begin by examining the school’s strengths and weaknesses. This plan, once developed, will be sent to the Board of Trustees for their approval. Once in place, a campaign to build the endowment will be adopted. He also wants to make a Spring Hill education affordable for all who are admitted.

One issue facing higher education is salaries for faculty and staff. This is a nationwide issue and one he plans to address with a capital campaign in the years to come.
His focus will be providing the best possible educational experience and value to all students in the Jesuit tradition. Dr. Puto wants Spring Hill to play a greater role in the community. Already, almost half of the student body is volunteering regularly at schools and non-profits as part of the Foley Center.

The meeting was adjourned.