On May 13, 2014, Timothy L. Hall became the 12th president of Mercy College. His immediate priorities were to increase enrollment at the College’s four campuses and to promote greater student success. Early results have been positive. Fall 2015 saw a 13 percent increase in new students over the previous fall. Moreover, both freshmen and transfer retention rates increased dramatically. First time, full time freshmen retention improved nearly 10 percent during Hall’s first full academic year, and transfer retention rates improved by more than five percent.
Since President Hall’s arrival at Mercy, the College has been recognized by the White House as a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education,” received reaccreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, completed construction of a new, 350-bed residence hall and launched a new brand initiative. In addition, the College has launched an ambitious program to further enhance student success through the implementation of a variety of macro-level strategies referred to as the Maverick Success Toolkit. The Toolkit consists of innovative practices such as cohort scheduling, course redesign, and guided pathways to success (GPS).
President Hall previously served for seven years as president of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Under Hall’s leadership, Austin Peay experienced significant increases in enrollment and funding, and received distinctions in 2012 and 2013 as one of the Great Colleges to Work For by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
During Hall’s years at Austin Peay, both President Barack Obama and Bill Gates praised the university for its innovative use of technology to support student success. Publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Chronicle of Higher Education spotlighted Austin Peay during Hall’s tenure as president. Furthermore, Hall was one of five higher education leaders invited to testify in the fall of 2013 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee concerning innovation in higher education. PBS Newshour visited Austin Peay to film a program concerning the university’s success under Tennessee’s new performance-based formula for higher education funding. The program aired in August 2014.
The achievements Austin Peay experienced during Hall’s tenure were built on a foundation of collaborative efforts by faculty, staff and administrators to support the success of students. The organization Public Agenda praised the institution’s “uncommonly positive and collaborative” environment, and recounted conversations with faculty and staff which “spotlighted high levels of confidence and trust in leadership that they and their colleagues share.”
Hall received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, summa cum laude, from the University of Houston in 1978. He followed this degree with two years of graduate work in the religious studies department at Rice University in Houston, Texas, before attending law school and receiving his juris doctorate, cum laude, from the University of Texas Law School in 1983. While in law school, he served as articles editor of the Texas Law Review and was selected for membership in the Order of the Coif, the nation’s leading legal honor society. Following a year as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Will Garwood, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Hall joined the firm of Hughes & Luce in Austin, Texas, where he was a trial lawyer for five years. Subsequently, Hall served as a law professor and later as associate vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Mississippi from 1989 to 2007. In 2005, he was asked to assume additional responsibilities as executive director of a campaign to raise $50 million for a new law school facility at the University of Mississippi.
Both during his years as a law teacher and later as an academic administrator, Hall has been active as a scholar. He is the author of several well-known books, including Separating Church and State: Roger Williams in America (University of Illinois Press, 1998); Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary (Facts on File, 2001); American Religious Leaders (Facts on File, 2003); and Religion in America (Facts on File, 2007).
Hall and his wife, Lee Nicholson Hall, have two children, Ben and Amy, who both earned degrees from Austin Peay State University in 2013. Ben earned a Master of Arts with a major in English after having previously earned his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Trinity University in San Antonio; Amy earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in art and a concentration in visual communication.