Messages from the President

USA President Tony Waldrop’s messages to the University community are posted below and on the University’s Facebook page, You can also follow him on Instagram (USA Waldrops).
October 13, 2015


Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Today we are announcing the public phase of Upward & Onward, A Campaign for the University of South Alabama.

Upward & Onward is a $150 million comprehensive fundraising campaign that will elevate and accelerate every aspect of USA's mission -- education, research, service, health care, economic development, athletics, and the arts and humanities. We intend to achieve this broad vision for the future through the focused priorities that form the components of our strategic vision.

We have been in the quiet phase of this campaign for two years and I'm pleased to tell you that we have already raised more than $73 million. In the public phase, our goal is to raise:

  • $56 million for student access and success,
  • $10 million for the enhancement of research and graduate education,
  • $3 million for global engagement,
  • $18.5 million for excellence in health care, and
  • $7.5 million for University-community engagement.

For more details about the campaign, and to watch the campaign video, please visit

As you become informed about the campaign, I encourage you to become an ambassador for our fundraising efforts and spread the word about the many ways the Upward & Onward campaign will further enhance our ability to impact and improve the lives and communities of those we serve.

Together we will set a path to attract more outstanding students and exceptional faculty members, help people live longer and healthier lives, and foster research, scholarly activity and creative works that enlighten, transform and inspire.

Together we will move Upward & Onward.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

September 28, 2015


Dear USA Employees and Students,

In the near future, you will receive an email invitation to a series of town hall meetings that will give you an opportunity to provide feedback on the University's strategic plan. These meetings will be held both on the central campus and at our health system locations.

The University of South Alabama operates under a strategic plan that was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2013. The plan is currently under review and is being updated to organize the strategic goals and assessments around our five institutional priorities, which are:

  • student access and success,
  • enhancement of research and graduate education,
  • global engagement,
  • excellence in health care, and
  • University-community engagement.

Each of the priorities contained in the updated plan is accompanied by a list of objectives and methods by which we intend to measure those objectives. As part of its review of the updated plan, the University Committee on Planning, Assessment and Finance wants to ensure the plan is focused on, and reflective of, our University community's vision for the future. That is where you come in.

I encourage faculty, staff and students to attend one of the several meetings that are scheduled. At these meetings, you will be able to review and discuss the document in small groups and offer your comments. We will also have a question-and-answer session where I, along with Dr. David Johnson, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will be available to answer any questions you may have. Your feedback will be forwarded to the University Committee on Planning, Assessment and Finance, which will review the comments and further update the strategic plan before sending a proposed plan to the Board of Trustees.

For those who are unable to attend any of the meetings, you will be able to submit feedback online or by calling the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. I encourage you to read the document, participate and help shape the future of our University.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.

September 15, 2015


USA Faculty, Administrators and Staff,

It is fall semester, which means in two short weeks we will kickoff our annual USA Employee Campaign for the United Way. I am proud of USA's involvement with the United Way and helping our neighbors in need. This year our campaign will be led by Mr. Harvey Ikner, Associate Administrator, USA Health System, as the University's campaign chair with Mr. Mike Haskins, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications, serving as vice-chair.

The United Way of Southwest Alabama and its 51 partner agencies continue to provide vital services to people in need, making our community a better place to live. Through your financial support, the United Way serves Mobile, Clarke, Washington, and Choctaw counties with programs that are focused on education, health, financial stability, and life's basic essentials.

I ask you to please consider making a gift to be a part of building a better community. I thank you in advance for your support of the 2015 USA Employee Campaign for the United Way.

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.
University of South Alabama

July 20, 2015


Faculty and Staff,

As we get ready to begin a new academic year, I wanted to remind everyone that our University will go tobacco free beginning August 1 and that we are committed to providing assistance to employees and students trying to quit.

The tobacco-free policy covers all forms of tobacco, including smokeless and e-cigarettes, and anyone on University property - employees, students, vendors and visitors. It was instituted following the unanimous recommendation of the Wellness Initiatives Committee.

 The goal of a tobacco-free campus is to encourage healthy lifestyles, by removing second-hand smoke and giving people an incentive and opportunity to quit. 

Quitting smoking and other tobacco products can be a difficult process. It may take several tries, and I want you to know that the University will offer assistance past theAugust 1 date.

Since April, the University has been communicating the tobacco-free policy through emails, posters, signage and student orientations.

For employees, we scheduled nearly a dozen small-group sessions that offer tips and tools for cessation. The Employee Assistance Program also offers individual counseling sessions for employees and spouses. All of these options are at no cost to the participant. 

There is an additional free opportunity on Wednesday at the July Med School Cafe, a monthly event sponsored by the USA Physicians Group. Dr. Rachel Seaman, assistant professor of internal medicine and emergency medicine, will discuss the history of tobacco use in the United States, health hazards related to smoking and current treatment options for cessation.

Med School Cafe will take place July 22 at the USA Faculty Club, 6348 Old Shell Road. Lunch will be served at 11:30, and the program begins at noon. Space for this event is limited and reservations are required. For more information or to make reservations, call Kim Partridge at (251) 460-7770 or e-mail kepartridge@health.

For more information about our move to a tobacco-free campus, including cessation resources and what you should do if you see someone in violation of the tobacco-free policy, please visit

 Completely removing tobacco from the University, just like quitting smoking, may take some time. I know our employees will be considerate of others as this new policy takes hold. Just as clear as tobacco's harmful effects, however, we know this is a positive direction for our University and one that will yield positive results for our community.


Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.


May 6, 2015


Dear USA Community,

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Michael Finan on his appointment as Director of the USA Mitchell Cancer Institute. His appointment follows a national search process and a unanimous recommendation by the search committee.

Dr. Finan will provide strategic direction to MCI and will oversee both clinical and research initiatives, including management of the complex clinical operations. Along with the MCI leadership team, he will work to provide state-of-the-art care for cancer patients in an inviting, patient-centered environment. In addition, he will work closely with the MCI leadership team to nurture the growth of the research programs at MCI.

Prior to being appointed interim director of MCI last October, Dr. Finan served as Associate Director for Clinical Affairs and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology. A native of New Orleans, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of New Orleans and his medical degree from the LSU Medical Center School of Medicine in Shreveport. He completed both his residency in obstetrics and gynecology and a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of South Florida at Tampa General Hospital and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center.

Dr. Finan joined MCI in 2007 after serving in several leadership roles at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans. He specializes in a variety of cancers affecting women including cervical, vaginal, endometrial, vulvar and ovarian cancer, as well as gestational trophoblastic neoplasia. He is the first gynecologist in Mobile to perform robotic surgery with the da Vinci Robotic Surgery System, and he is listed in the most recent Top Doctors directory issued by U.S. News and World Report. He is co-investigator on an ovarian screening project funded by a $1.1 million grant and a co-inventor on six patents related to this technology.

I am delighted to have Dr. Finan serve in this role, which highlights his skills as a clinician, researcher and leader.


Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.


April 29, 2015


Dear Faculty and Staff,

Dr. Ron Franks will step down as Vice President for Health Sciences, effective June 1. He will continue as acting chair for the Department of Psychiatry, and will dedicate additional time to his clinical practice.

I know you all will join me in thanking Ron for his many years of dedicated service as Vice President. In particular, I have appreciated Ron's assistance in familiarizing myself with the Health Sciences at USA during my first year as president.

In the near future, USA will launch a search for a new combined position of Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the College of Medicine. Dr. Sam Strada, who plans to step down as dean of the College of Medicine when this position is filled, will continue his strong leadership of the College during this interim period, and will be instrumental in helping the University make this transition. I will provide the University community with more information as soon as the search process is developed.

In the interim, the deans of the College of Nursing and the Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions will report to Dr. David Johnson, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. The dean of the College of Medicine will, in the interim, report directly to me.


Thank you,

Tony G. Waldrop, Ph.D.


April 27, 2015


I'm pleased to announce the 2015-2016 book selected for the Common Read/Common World program is one written by USA Writer-in-Residence Frye Gaillard.

Gaillard's book, "Cradle of Freedom: Alabama and the Movement that Changed America," notes the University of Alabama Press, "puts a human face on the story of the black American struggle for equality in Alabama during the 1960s. .... It was fueled by the commitment and hard work of thousands of everyday people who decided that the time had come to take a stand."

Gaillard's work details in chronological fashion those events that have shaped Alabama since their occurrence, including the Letter from Birmingham Jail, the Freedom Rides, Bloody Sunday, as well as the Montgomery Bus Boycotts. Gaillard brings these events to life with incredible literary grace.

I encourage you not only to read the book but to search for ways to work the text and its lessons into your curriculum and activities beginning fall semester.

The goals for Common Read/Common World include improving general understanding of differences and commonalities globally, engaging in critical thinking and academic discourse, developing a more sophisticated understanding of values, creating a sense of community among students, faculty and staff, and aiding students in learning how to make an impact on their social environment.

This will be the third year for Common Read/Common World, a joint program between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. With your participation, it will also be the most successful.

Programs begin in August and will include a series of events, s! peakers, panel discussions and films.

"Cradle of Freedom" is the winner of the 2005 Lillian Smith Book Award. Gaillard is the author of more than 20 books and is a former Southern Editor of the Charlotte Observer.

For more information about the Common Read/Common World program, visit:

If you have any questions about the program or want to discuss ways you can incorporate "Cradle of Freedom," please contact Dr. Allan Hillman, associate professor of Philosophy and co-chair of the Common Read/Common World Program for 2015-2016, at or 460-6248.


Tony G. Waldrop


April 16, 2015


Dear Faculty, Staff and Students:

I am pleased to tell you that on August 1, 2015, the University of South Alabama will join more than 1,000 colleges and universities nationwide in becoming a 100% tobacco-free campus.

USA has adopted a tobacco-free policy to support the healthiest environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors. The policy is the result of many months of study by USA's Wellness Initiatives Committee, which drafted the policy and recommended its implementation after reviewing the results of separate surveys of students and employees. I commend the committee for its work and extend my thanks to the hundreds of employees and students who responded to the surveys and voiced their opinions.

As part of becoming a tobacco-free campus, the University recognizes its responsibility to offer assistance to employees and students who wish to stop using tobacco products , and we have several free tobacco cessation programs now in place.

You can find out more about the policy and cessation programs at this website:

Thank you for making USA a safe and healthy campus.


Tony G. Waldrop


March 19, 2015


Dear Colleagues:

The 2015 Employee and Retiree Campaigns for the South Alabama Annual Fund will kick off on March 24, 2015. I look forward to taking an active role in South Alabama's time honored tradition of giving back. This year's campaign will be co-chaired by Dr. Alec Yasinsac, dean of the School of Computing, and Dr. Mary Townsley, associate dean of the College of Medicine, and Dr. Robert "Bob" Barrow, professor emeritus with the College of Arts & Sciences is serving as chair for our retirees.

Julee and I are thrilled to be a part of an institution where the faculty, staff and retirees have so generously and selflessly supported the university for years, truly making a difference in the lives of those we serve. Your commitment to excellence proves that you believe in the difference an education and leading-edge health care makes in the lives of all who receive it. The funds raised through this campaign help ensure that South Alabama can continue creating endless possibilities for our students, groundbreaking research, and exceptional health care.

Soon a representative from your division will ask you to support this year's campaign. I urge you to join me in making an investment in the future of South Alabama through a gift to the campaign. Thank you for your support. WE ARE SOUTH ALABAMA!


Tony G. Waldrop


November 20, 2014


I'm pleased to announce today one of several initiatives we will be rolling out in the next year as part of a coordinated, strategic effort to help our students graduate on time. Dr. David Johnson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, will provide oversight for this enhanced program.

The University is in the process of hiring at least five additional academic advisors for a new First-Year Advising Team that will be housed at the Academic Services Center. This will put a focus on our newest students, whose needs are specialized, while in many cases lightening the advisory load of professional and faculty advisors throughout campus.

This fall, we enrolled a record number of first-time freshmen. Through their admission, we told those 2,073 candidates that we believed they have what it takes to earn a degree from the University of South Alabama. We have an obligation to do what we can to keep students on track and help them succeed.

Here's what we know: Students who drop out of school are most likely to do it during or right after their first year than at any other time. This is true not just at USA, but nationally.

We also know that at-risk students who take advantage of resources offered by the University do better than those who do not.

Through the additional academic advisors, our goal is to offer comprehensive services for new students to address a wide range of issues common to the college transition. By doing so, we improve their chance at success and the probability they will return for their sophomore year and eventually graduate.

We will track student achievement with a new software analytics program that is already being used in several colleges on campus.

There are other plans underway. During the inauguration ceremony in September, I introduced the idea of retention grants for students who are doing well academically but who would otherwise have to drop out for financial reasons. We also are studying the feasibility of a tuition break as an incentive for students who graduate on time. More information on these plans will follow in the coming months.

The First-Year Advising Team should be in place for fall. Dr. Nicole Carr, director of Student Academic Success and Retention, already has discussed the plans with academic deans, and we are in the process of hiring a team leader.

As always, students who are having difficulty in classes should immediately speak to someone in their college or contact Dr. Carr's JagSuccess staff at 460-7103.

Earning a degree is ultimately the responsibility of each student. As a University community, we are all better off when we give students the best chance at achieving that goal.


Tony G. Waldrop


August 29, 2014


Fellow Jaguars,

This week we announced record enrollment of 16,055 students. More people than ever are choosing to pursue higher education at USA.

The increased enrollment, up nearly 5 percent from last fall, is a testament to the strength of our academic programs, the hard work of our faculty and staff, and the spirit of our students and alumni.  Along with this enrollment growth came a record number of students choosing to live in on-campus housing.  Over 2,200 students are living in University owned and operated housing, adding to an already vibrant campus life.  An additional 1,000 students live in the Grove, a private apartment complex, located on the USA campus.

With good news comes challenges and opportunities.  I expect continued growth as we strive to reach new audiences and ensure the University remains accessible to what has historically been our core constituency along the Gulf Coast.  We must grow with quality, demanding excellence and not just numbers.  We also will be accountable for helping our students graduate on time, and this must be an institution-wide focus.

A stronger, larger university also means increased opportunities to impact neighbors and communities around us.  I was reminded how personal that can be as more than 700 volunteers - students, faculty, staff and alumni - moved arriving students into residence halls on Move-In Day.   Julee and I visited several residence halls and were most impressed by the student groups who turned out to help fellow Jaguars and their parents unload vehicles and haul boxes up flights of stairs.  The show of support was impressive, yet not unexpected.

Year-round there are examples of outreach and volunteering by the University community, including our involvement in K-12 programs, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, and, new in 2014, the USA National Alumni Association's JaguarsCare National Day of Service.  In the past academic year, USA students put in more than 59,000 hours of service-learning and civic engagement! A great example of USA students helping others was featured just last month on WKRG-TV5 and  The videos, linked below, tell the story of College of Medicine, College of Nursing and Pat Capps Covey College of Allied Health Professions students operating a health clinic at 15 Place, a homeless day shelter in downtown Mobile.

These students represent who we are as an institution. Part of our mission as a university is to move beyond classrooms and improve the communities where we live.  As we go full speed into another school year, let us all look for ways to do just that.

- Tony

July 17, 2014


Fellow Jaguars,

The University of South Alabama is proud to host and participate in the American Heart Association's Mobile Heart Walk on Saturday, September 13 at 8 a.m., beginning at the Mitchell Center.  USA is dedicated to serving our community and, since heart disease is the number one killer of all Americans and affects the lives of so many of our South Alabama community members, the Heart Walk is a University priority.

In an effort to reach our fundraising goal of $36,000, I am asking that all our students, faculty and staff join in our fundraising efforts.  You have many options for participation, such as:

- Joining as a Team Captain and recruiting 15 fundraising walkers
- Joining a team as a fundraising walker
- Making a personal donation 

We need motivated and dedicated Jaguars to serve as Team Captains from each department, division, and student organization!  USA needs all walkers to ask friends and family for support to help us reach our goal and help the American Heart Association fight heart disease and stroke.  If you would like to be a Team Captain or a Walker to help raise funds, please go online and register at  There will be a Team Captain Kick-off Breakfast on Friday, August 1 at 8 a.m. in the Student Center Terrace.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact American Heart Association staff at Dr. Krista Harrell, Associate Dean of Students, and Ms. Beth Anderson, Hospital Administrator at USA Medical Center, are the University of South Alabama 2014 Heart Walk Coordinators.  We look forward to you becoming a Heart Walk Team Captain or joining a team to help the USA community raise funds for the American Heart Association and support vital research and a heart-healthy lifestyle.

With Jaguar Pride,


Tony G. Waldrop
University of South Alabama

P.S.  We'll be finished in plenty of time for you to join your friends at the USA-Mississippi State football game!  GO JAGS!!

July 11, 2014

Fellow Jaguars and friends:

After the extended and warm welcome Julee and I received upon arriving at USA, we were able to be part of a different welcoming committee.

Four new members recently joined the Board of Trustees. The trustees attended their first Board meeting on June 6.

The new members are: Ron Jenkins, a USA graduate and executive at Raytheon Missile Systems; Chandra Brown Stewart, a USA graduate and executive director of Lifelines Counseling Services of Mobile; Sandy Stimpson, mayor of Mobile; and Michael Windom, a civil attorney and another USA alum. Bryant Mixon and Ken Simon were reappointed to the Board.  More information about our new trustees can be found on the USA website.

At the same time, three dedicated trustees completed their distinguished terms on the board, and we are sad to see them go. A special thank you to Cecil Gardner, Sam Jones and Christie Miree for their outstanding and committed service.

The news that caught the most attention from last month’s board meeting was a 3.5 percent tuition increase for this fall.  This increase translates to roughly $300 a year. While modest, any increase is given considerable thought and taken seriously. We must remain competitive, but we also need to keep tuition at a level that does not impede quality and access to education.

One Board item you may not have heard about, but something directly connected to the budget, is work to repair the University’s infrastructure. This issue certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed on campus, where we have experienced temporary utility outages and sinkholes created by deteriorating underground pipe.

While an inconvenience, we will methodically make repairs to the University’s water, storm water, gas and power lines. USA is more than 50 years old, and so is much of the infrastructure. The Board approved funds for designing a strategic plan to address these needs and plan for growth.

These repairs will not be completed overnight, but when we are finished, I know there will be a strong foundation into the future for this beautiful campus.


May 13, 2014



Many of you have heard me say that one of the main reasons my wife, Julee, and I chose to come to the University of South Alabama was the people. The people we met -- from members of the Board of Trustees to the faculty, staff and students -- were both welcoming and truly sincere in their support of and dedication to USA. It made all the difference.

Over the last several weeks, we've gotten to meet and know so many more members of the USA family. Whether addressing a group of faculty or speaking with a student who stops me as I walk across campus, these encounters have made us feel as though we're in the right place, that we've found a home at USA.

Julee and I have been very pleased to attend many events and experience the myriad aspects of USA.  Some of these are shown in our Instagram account (USAWaldrops).  Please feel free to follow us on this account for our future experiences.

As we move into the summer and fall semesters, I will be reaching out to ask for your help. Both faculty and staff are the University's connection to students and their families and to the greater community. It is because of your efforts that we are able to provide quality educational opportunities and advanced health care to our region. So, together, we will form a collective vision for the future of our University.

Your dedication to the University extends outside your classrooms, clinics and offices. Just last week we attended the luncheon to mark the end of the 11th Employee Annual Fund. Together, faculty, staff and retirees raised the second-largest amount in the fund's history. More than half of employees contributed.

I know we have challenges. In health care, the business model is changing, though our high expectations for top-quality care are steadfast. We have received significant state budget reductions over the past five years, and that funding is likely to be relatively flat going forward. It is also likely that there will be increased demands on expenditures.

Our students and their families are trying to make the best financial decisions in an uneven economy. Higher education is an investment, and we need to continue to ensure their investments are yielding the best returns.

We can help by working collectively toward raising our retention and graduation rates. Students who earn four-year degrees expand their opportunities, and the sooner they graduate the sooner we can get them into the workforce.

When I met last month with the families of incoming students who have been awarded scholarships to USA, I promised the parents that you and I would be there to guide their children along the way as they make that transition.

I had the opportunity at Saturday's Spring Commencement to shake the hands of more than 1,000 graduating students. Their smiles as they crossed the stage were a testament to those of you who helped them to succeed. They are better for your efforts, and so is the University of South Alabama.

I thank you. More importantly, I know they do, too.

- Tony