Mississippi State president resigns

Published 11:43 pm Saturday, March 8, 2008

Robert “Doc” Foglesong resigned Friday as president of Mississippi State University.

“This is a major loss for our System and for Mississippi State University,” Higher Education Commissioner Tom Meredith said in a statement. “Under Dr. Foglesong’s leadership, Mississippi State is currently enjoying its best year in many years, which is evidenced by its enrollment growth, its increase in research productivity, and numerous other positive changes at the institution.”

Foglesong, a Williamson, W. Va., native and retired Air Force general, was inaugurated as MSU’s new president in October 2006.

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Rumors had circulated earlier Friday that Foglesong had resigned and increased with word the state College Board, which regulates the state’s public universities, was meeting in executive Friday afternoon.

Foglesong said in a statement released by the Starkville-based university that he had resigned “with the express purpose of helping the university move forward… .”

Foglesong said he and his wife, Mary, “are incredibly proud of the past two years and of the new records in enrollment and research, the economic development opportunities that have evolved across the state, the leadership performance of individuals and teams across the campus, the energy and enthusiasm of the Dawg Pack, and, of course, proud of our friends.”

Meredith said following the College Board session that Foglesong’s resignation would be effective June 30, 2008.

“President Foglesong stated he had a number of goals for Mississippi State when he arrived, which have primarily been accomplished,” Meredith said. “He feels that now is an appropriate time for a transition in leadership.”

College Board President L. Stacy Davidson said the panel was “very appreciative of the many accomplishments of Dr. Foglesong and we wish him the very best.”

Amy Whitten, who will become the college board’s president in May, said she was “disappointed” by the news.

“I respect his decision. I’m sure he’ll make a graceful transition. I’m just sorry we’re not going to be able to keep him longer than that,” Whitten said.

The board did not indicate when it would formally begin the search for a new president of the university, but Whitten said there’s plenty of time.

“Typically, the cycle of looking for presidents kind of tracks the school year. So I doubt that we will gear up for a search until summer,” she said.

Kirk Schulz, MSU’s vice president for research and economic development, said word of Foglesong’s departure had left the campus community disappointed.

“All of us are very appreciative of his service to the university,” Schulz said. “He’s the reason our enrollment is the way it is — at a record high. And our campus looks just beautiful, better than it has ever looked.”

Schulz said Foglesong had given MSU a strong vision for the future and “he’s going to be missed.”

Foglesong had been at work at Mississippi State, a land-grant school which opened with 354 students in 1880, several months before his inauguration. The school now has more than 17,000 students.

In his inauguration, Foglesong touted new student leadership programs among his top goals. He said other goals included building the institution’s reputation as a research institution and making the university more accessible.