(MOBILE, Ala) - The longtime president of the University of South Alabama is stepping down.
The USA Board of Trustees accepted Moulton's request for retirement at a board meeting Friday. Moulton's last day as president of the university will be July 1.
"It was very emotional for me, and I could hear sniffles and reactions around this board table and in this room," Board Chair Pro Tempore Jim Yance said.
Moulton was president at South Alabama for 15 years. Moulton began his career at the school in 1966 as a faculty member at the brand-new USA College of Business.
"I was so fortunate to be able to work with the kind of people, the kind of support that allowed us to move the quality, size and significance of this institution up substantially over those 15 years," Moulton said. "The University of South Alabama is now competitive with the top level institutions in the country, and certainly in this state. So we've been able to achieve quite a bit."
Moulton's decision comes after he announced in January he would be taking a leave of absence. Moulton continues to recover after surgery late last year for a malignant brain tumor.
Moulton told Local 15 News his decision to step down from his post is hardly for health reasons. Moulton said his health might have been a factor in the future, but he said he received a lot of support from his peers to make the move.
"There's a timing in life for everything," Moulton said.
During Moulton's tenure as president, South Alabama's enrollment grew by one-third to 15,000, it expanded academic programs and campus facilities, added football and marching band to its list of extracurricular activities and made significant expansions in the field health care in Mobile.
"This institution has the infrastructure in place to really explode," Retired USA Administrator David Stearns said.
Stearns said it is progress he sees in the USA student body.
"It wasn't very many years ago, in our freshman classroom, we would have 40 or 50 students with ACT scores of 30 or better," Stearns said, "This year, fall of '13, we anticipate 150. Those students have opportunities to go anywhere."
Stearns said Moulton left largely for the same reasons he retired after 34 years with the school.
"We were both at the top of our games, and that's a beautiful time to leave," Stearns said.
Vice President of Student Affairs John W. Smith will serve as acting president until trustees select Moulton's successor.
An open seat, Stearns said, that will draw a cadre of candidates.
"This is a plum position to have as a president of a major institution," Stearns said.
Moulton said his retirement certainly doesn't mean the end of his involvement with the university. Moulton said he will be working in development and fundraising for the school, and working on special projects.