The heat and humidity of the Gulf Coast may be new to Spring Hill College’s interim President but his commitment to the values and mission of the Society of Jesus are woven in his conscience. In fact, Dr. E. Joseph Lee says it was the deep-rooted Jesuit heritage of the College that drew him to Mobile, Alabama to take the lead in moving Spring Hill into a prosperous future.
“My wife and I were reading about the opportunity to lead Spring Hill and we realized the core of the entire experience here is so firmly focused on the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, or care and development of the whole person. She looked at me and said, ‘Joe, this is YOU.’”
Lee attended a Jesuit high school in Maine and first worked with the Jesuits as a young admissions counselor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. During those years, Lee said, he had many Jesuits he considered to be his mentors. He was also an active member of Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators for 15 years.
So far, Lee says Move-In Day – when first-year students and parents arrive on The Hill and have their belonging taken to their residence halls by student, faculty and staff volunteers – has been his favorite experience. “It’s the first day of orientation and the enthusiasm shown to our new families is contagious. The first-year students and families are really arriving with that ‘first choice’ feeling – knowing they’ve made the right decision on their top choice for college.”
Lee also pointed out that Mass of the Holy Spirit gave him a glimpse of what differentiates Spring Hill from other schools. The Mass, a Jesuit tradition dating back to the 1500s, is celebrated on The Hill at the beginning of each academic year. The campus community gathers to rededicate themselves, ask for guidance for a new year, renew friendships and welcome new family members. “The participation in this voluntary Mass and also at our Sunday evening weekly Mass is unprecedented. It’s like nothing I have ever seen at a Catholic college. I love the dedication of our students, regardless of religious affiliation.”
Now that the 2018-19 school year has begun, Lee says his plans are to work with every facet of the College to share the unique qualities that separate Spring Hill from others with the nation and the world. “We have such a great story to tell here. I am just learning it for myself and already can see the value of letting others in on what our students, parents, alumni, faculty, staff and the community already know.”
Lee says his commitment to Spring Hill is unwavering. “The values and mission of our College is why I am here. It was a conscious decision to pursue this opportunity – to be surrounded by the principles of the Jesuits and to find a balance so that Spring Hill College continues to thrive moving into the future.”