MSU president says no more worlds to conquer

Published 7:30 pm Friday, March 14, 2008

Mississippi State University President Robert “Doc” Foglesong says he had no more worlds to conquer at MSU, having reached goals he established for the college in two years rather than four.

Foglesong, in a letter to MSU faculty and staff dated Thursday, said it was time for someone else to step in and move the university ahead.

Foglesong announced last Friday that he was resigning effective June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

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Decisions about an interim leader and a new president will be up to the state College Board. Members say the discussion could begin as early as next week’s monthly meeting.

Foglesong, 62, earns $429,000 a year.

MSU, which has just more than 17,000 students, is on spring break this week.

In his letter, Foglesong talks about improvements in student numbers and retention, new faculty hirings, research funding plus a renewed energy and enthusiasm on campus.

“I thought it would take four years to get where we wanted to be in most areas. We did it in two years. Mission complete,” Foglesong wrote in the letter.

Foglesong did not hint at what he would be doing next. Foglesong, a retired Air Force General, is a Williamson, W.Va., native and West Virginia University graduate.

Foglesong told the Charleston Daily Mail this week that he was planning to spend more time in West Virginia.

“I have no plans other than to re-engage in my foundation in West Virginia in a pretty substantial way,” Foglesong said.

His Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization, is headquartered in Charleston.

In the letter to MSU staff, Foglesong said no one asked him to leave but it was time for someone else to continue the work at MSU.

“It only took two years — vice four — to achieve what I set as goals for myself. That’s because I had great teammates who truly believed in One State. One Team. The processes — recruiting/retention, budgeting, security, research prioritization, accountability, etc. — are all in place.

“But change is hard and somebody has to initiate it and somebody had to take the heat for it. That’s me. This university needed a hard turn. Now it’s time for somebody else to make the next round of changes and set a new standard,” Foglesong wrote.