MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — After being president of Spring Hill College for nearly three years, E. Joseph Lee, Ph.D. has announced that he will be retiring from his position in December 2022.

Lee was asked to serve as interim president in August 2018, which made him the second layperson to serve in the role. On Feb. 7, 2020, he was fully instated as the college’s 38th president. During his time as president, he faced hardships, one of them being the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the college announced it would be going virtual due to other COVID numbers rising in the Mobile area.

“Dr. Lee’s leadership has been instrumental in sustaining Spring Hill College during this unprecedented pandemic environment, strengthening our existing curriculum, initiating a robust academic expansion that enhances the College’s value to our students and promoting the Jesuit identity of ‘cura personalis’ – care and respect for the entire human development. We will miss Joe, but also look forward to perpetuating his vision for Spring Hill as we carry out the selection process for our next president.”

Jack McKinney, Chairman of Spring Hill College’s Board of Trustees

Since the start of the pandemic, Lee has transitioned classes from in-person to online, and back, established the Center for Online Learning, and has added new majors to the curriculum including Digital Marketing, Cyber Security, Entrepreneurship, Sports Management and Supply Chain Management.

In an email sent out to the Spring Hill College community Friday morning, Lee wrote, “I’m writing to you today to let you know that I will be retiring from Spring Hill College in December of this year. My rationale is a very simple one – family. At this point in my life, my desire is to spend more time with my wife, Meg, my three sons, and hopefully soon, grandchildren.”

Lee was previously president at Pine Manor College in Massachusetts, Saint Joseph’s College in Maine and Thomas More University in Kentucky. He was the Interim Vice President for Enrollment Management at the University of Maine and was Vice President for Student Services at Merrimack College in Massachusetts.

The College’s Board of Trustees will begin a national search for the next president.