He replaces James P. Gallagher, who has been president since 1984, one of the longest college presidencies in the country. Gallagher announced his decision to retire in March after 23 years, during which the 100-acre campus saw much growth, including a quadrupling of its applications for admission. The trustees began a national search immediately.
Spinelli's salary was not disclosed. Gallagher was paid $837,158 in 2004-05, including deferred compensation, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which publishes presidential salaries. He was the second highest paid among presidents of private institutions in the United States that grant master's degrees.
Spinelli has worked at Babson for 14 years, including serving as associate professor and later chair of entrepreneurship and director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. In addition to cofounding Jiffy Lube, he also previously was chairman and chief executive officer of American Oil Change Corp.
He has a doctorate in economics from the Management School, Imperial College, University of London; an master's of business administration from Babson; and his bachelor's degree in economics from McDaniel College. He has written extensively on entrepreneurship and other business topics.
"I am honored to accept the presidency of such a progressive and dynamic institution," Spinelli said in a statement. "This is a very exciting time to join Philadelphia University, which encompasses a rich tradition and also holds tremendous opportunity for the future."
Since its start in 1884, when it was called the Philadelphia Textile School, the onetime trade school has been an important city institution. It was granted the right to award baccalaureate degrees in 1941, and in 1961 it changed its name to the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. In 1999, the school began offering graduate and undergraduate degrees, and changed its name to Philadelphia University.
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