Gen. Charles Krulak named 13th president of Birmingham-Southern College; announces he will forego first year's salary


BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Gen. Charles “Chuck” C. Krulak, retired commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was introduced today as the 13th president of Birmingham-Southern College. He immediately announced that he will forego his first year’s salary to demonstrate his allegiance to the college and its fiscal health.

Dr. Wayne Killion Jr., vice chair of the Birmingham-Southern Board of Trustees and chair of the Presidential Search Committee, made the announcement before students, alumni, faculty, and staff in the Bruno Great Hall on the BSC campus. The Board of Trustees selected Krulak as BSC’s next president at a special meeting earlier in the day. He will officially begin his duties full time on June 1, but will be active on behalf of the college until then as his schedule allows.

“Birmingham-Southern is fortunate to have attracted an individual with the experience, character, and charisma of General Krulak as its next president,” said Killion. “He has already demonstrated his allegiance to this great college and its students, future students, faculty, staff, and alumni by requesting that he not be paid a salary during his first 12 months in office. He is an individual of great integrity and values, and this college and its Board are in full support of his selection.

“Our long and thorough search has led us to the right individual to be the president of this college at this moment in time,” Killion continued. “Not only is General Krulak a highly regarded leader, he brings proven skills in fundraising, fiscal policy, strategic planning, and organizational management to Birmingham-Southern at a pivotal time in its history. Most importantly, he understands and appreciates the value of a liberal arts education in today’s world, and we are confident the motivational leadership he has demonstrated in the military and in business will further strengthen this gem of a college.”

“I believe General Krulak will soon be regarded as one of our most outstanding college presidents,” said Dr. James L. Fisher, president emeritus of Towson University and former president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). “His deep knowledge of the traditions of higher education and the importance of the liberal arts will amount to an exceptional presidential tenure.”

An Even Brighter Future

“Birmingham-Southern has a great history, but it has an even brighter future,” said Krulak, a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. “We have a tremendous challenge before us, and we will meet it. My life has been devoted to stewardship, and I believe I was called to Birmingham-Southern.

“The outstanding faculty at BSC represents the heart that pumps the blood of education to our student body,” Krulak said. “The dedicated staff provides the foundation that supports the education programs, and our loyal alumni serve as both the touchstone and compass as we move forward. Our focus is the student body—the young men and women who will be the leaders of tomorrow. We are here so that these talented individuals grow mentally, morally, and physically and reach their full potential and thereby become difference-makers to our nation and the world.”

Krulak will replace Dr. Mark Schantz who has been serving as interim president of the college during the search process. Schantz will return to his position as BSC provost on June 1. Dr. Kathleen Greer Rossmann, who has been serving as interim provost, will return to her role as associate dean of first-year programs.

Krulak said he first visited the Birmingham-Southern campus last November when he was in Birmingham to receive the National Veterans Award at the 63rd National Veterans Day celebration.

“I came to campus in my free time and over a couple of hours was fortunate to talk with staff, faculty, and students,” recalled Krulak. “Each of them had a tremendous passion for Birmingham-Southern. As we drove away, my wife said, ‘That is a remarkable place.’ I’ve been recommended for the presidency at other institutions, but this place is special.”

Krulak was appointed the 31st commandant of U.S. Marines Corps on July 1, 1995, a post he held until his retirement June 30, 1999. As the senior leader of the Marine Corps, he was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with overall responsibility for recruiting, training, operational readiness, and welfare of more than 220,000 active and reserve forces and 20,000 civilian employees. During his tenure, he annually increased the USMC share of the Department of Defense budget by $1.5 billion to initiate a modernization effort that continues to benefit troops today. He also instituted the Marine Corps Fighting Laboratory, lengthened and strengthened recruit training, and fathered the concepts of “Three Block War” and “The Strategic Corporal” to help Marines better understand and prepare for warfare in the 21st century.

“There is no question General Krulak is a leader of men and women,” commented Mack McLarty, White House Chief of Staff under President Clinton. “He brings out the best in people and he expects the best, and people rally around him. But he doesn’t just give orders; he is a coach who nurtures others on how to get things done. People not only respect him, but they like him. He also knows how to change and deal with change, and in this world and in dealing with young people, that is so important.”

A Second Career in Finance

Following his retirement from military service, Krulak was named in 2001 as chairman and chief executive officer of MBNA Europe Bank in Chester, England, where he spearheaded a financial turnaround for the third largest credit card provider in the United Kingdom and the largest credit card provider in the Republic of Ireland. Under his leadership, net income and loans doubled, the number of managed accounts increased from $3.2 million to $8.4 million, and the bank expanded into Spain, its first entry into a non-English speaking country.

In 2004, he joined MBNA America Bank N.A. in Wilmington, Del., as vice chairman and chief administrative officer, where he was responsible for corporate development and acquisitions, personnel, and education for the FORTUNE 500 company employing 28,000 people in five countries and 20 locations. Krulak led the acquisition of four companies as a part of a corporate diversification strategy, negotiated the first joint venture with a foreign bank, and acquired more than $6 billion in loans, among other initiatives.

During this time, MBNA was recognized as a “Great Place to Work” in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

“As CEO and chairman of MBNA Europe, General Krulak arrived without a banking pedigree, but left with all of the achievements of an experienced financial leader: he doubled profits and assets, improved loan quality, maintained capital levels, and entered new markets,” said Joseph DePaulo, executive vice president of Sallie Mae and former chief marketing officer of MBNA Europe. “He did all of this the old fashioned way—he created a vision, established clear objectives, and most importantly, he inspired his people to achieve lofty goals.”

Krulak’s long and distinguished military career included two tours of duty in Vietnam and as commanding general of the 2nd Force Service Support Group at Camp LeJeune, N.C., during the Gulf War. His other commands included commanding general of the Marine Forces Pacific at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, the largest theatre of operations for the USMC; commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command at Quantico, Va., responsible for developing war fighting concepts and determining capabilities to enable the Marine Corps to field combat-ready forces; director of the USMC Force Structure Planning Group, where he developed, coordinated, and published the strategic vision of the U.S. Marine Corps for the 21st century; and deputy director of the White House Military Office, where he coordinated the military support for Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

“General Krulak defines leadership; he brings order to chaos,” said Andrew Card, U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President George H. W. Bush and White House Chief of Staff under President George W. Bush. “He has a network of tremendous respect in the academic community, business community, and obviously in the military world, so I have every reason to be confident that he will right the ship at Birmingham-Southern College. He will provide good leadership not only for those at the academic institution, but also for the alumni and those in the community whose support is critical for the institution to be successful.”

From February 2003 until April 2006, Krulak served by presidential appointment as chairman of the U.S. Naval Academy Board of Visitors, overseeing the board responsible for morale, discipline, curriculum, faculty, athletics programs, and admissions policies of the U.S. Naval Academy.

His military honors include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star Medal, three Bronze Star medals, two Purple Heart Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the French Legion of Honor, among many others.

Krulak currently serves as the co-chairman of the Founders Group of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation which has raised in excess of $150 million to build, equip, and staff Phase I of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

He serves on the boards of the Union Pacific Corp.; Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold; Aston Villa Football Club of professional soccer’s English Premier League; Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the medical school for the U.S. Armed Forces; and CEO Forum. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Hope for the Warriors, Human Rights First, and Officer Christian Fellowship.

A native of Quantico, Va., Krulak is a graduate of the Phillips Exeter Academy, a highly regarded coeducational institution in New Hampshire for grades 9-12. He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and his master’s degree in labor relations at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He completed a seminar on International Relations at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. The general is also a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, Army Command and General Staff College, and National War College.

Krulak and his wife of 46 years, Zandi Meyers Krulak, currently reside in Naples, Fla. Beginning this summer, they will live in the President’s Home on the Birmingham-Southern campus. The couple has two sons: David, a physician in the U.S. Navy, and Todd, a visiting assistant professor in classical studies at Tulane University.

Krulak’s father, Lt. Gen. Victor H. Krulak, was a decorated Marine who saw action in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Considered a visionary by fellow Marines, he was author of First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps. Upon military retirement, he served as president of Copley News Service.

The search for Birmingham-Southern’s 13th president began in September 2010 and involved a Presidential Search Committee of trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Krulak was chosen from among nearly 60 applications and nominations.

Birmingham-Southern College is a four-year, private liberal arts institution founded in 1856 and affiliated with The United Methodist Church. BSC is Alabama’s most outstanding liberal arts institution and has consistently been identified in recent years as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country for its academic quality and value.

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