Dr. Mark Foley is retiring from the office of president at the University of Mobile after 18 years of service.
When I arrived in 2001, he had been in that position for three years. I still remember my first day on campus like it was yesterday.
It was the opening workshop for faculty on Monday morning, August 20th, 8:30 a.m. in Moorer Auditorium. I was wide-eyed, tired from moving from Texas that weekend and nervous about starting a new job. My Texas colleagues had teased me about taking a faculty position at a small, private, Christian college after teaching for 15 years at a much larger state school. I honestly did not know what to expect.
After the usual coffee and muffins, we moved into the auditorium to begin our day. Dr. Foley opened with about 45 minutes of "inspiration and blessings" for the new year. I remember sitting there, looking around at the faculty and staff, feeling such excitement that I had accepted a position where the president could open school with a devotion and prayer. It was powerful.
Since that first morning, I have experienced many more days of inspiration. About five years ago, as director of student teaching, I invited Dr. Foley to address and bless the student teachers at the opening seminar to start their semester. The student teachers were mesmerized and engaged with his message. He spoke of his own experience in public school classrooms and how two totally different teachers had had such an impact on his life. His message was about influence and how teachers are influential every day to so many. It was powerful.
Dr. Mark Foley will be missed, but his influence will continue in years to come. He directly influenced student teachers and now, as professional teachers, they have already influenced so many, many more.
I salute you, Dr. Foley, and I thank you for influencing me. It has been powerful.