University Outreach’s Ralph Foster Retires

Ralph S Foster, Jr.

Effective July 1, 2020, Ralph S. Foster, Jr., assistant vice president for University Outreach and Public Service and CEU officer, is retiring with more than 31 years of service to Auburn University. He was recently awarded emeritus status in recognition of his contributions.

A third-generation alumnus, Foster earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Auburn in 1979, a M.S. in Personnel Management from Troy State University-Montgomery in 1988 and completed the National Leadership Institute in Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Georgia. Foster joined the Office of the Vice President for Extension—now University Outreach—as a project associate in 1989. He was promoted to director in 1993, and served in a number of progressive appointments in the Division of University Outreach, culminating in his promotion to assistant vice president in 2017.

“Auburn gave me a career and purpose, made all the more meaningful by my family ties to campus and the area,” said Foster. “My family settled near Armstrong Church (Wire Road) in the 1850s. My grandfather was a student in 1908 and lived in Smith Hall where my office has been located for the last 20 years.”

”Mr. Foster’s record in outreach and public service has been exemplary,” said Royrickers Cook, vice-president for University Outreach. “His leadership and dedication have contributed greatly to the Division of University Outreach, the advancement of the institution’s land-grant mission and Auburn’s national reputation as an engaged university.”

During his tenure, Foster contributed significantly to Auburn’s culture and institutionalization of engagement: spearheading the university’s first comprehensive policies for non-credit professional CEU certifications, assisting in developing sections of the university’s Faculty Handbook and Auburn Bulletin related to outreach, compiling the original Guide for Faculty Engagement, co-chairing a university task force to advance and support service-learning and curricular engagement at Auburn and providing oversight of the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

Foster’s most significant contribution to Auburn University has been his efforts to obtain the institution’s prestigious Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification. Foster organized the university’s Carnegie Community Engagement application, which led to Auburn’s first classification in 2010 and its subsequent reclassification in 2020.

Foster has produced an extensive portfolio of engaged scholarship and presentations including serving as keynote speaker at Ohio University’s College of Education Faculty Engagement Colloquia in 2011, serving as a member of the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement editorial board and authoring numerous peer reviewed publications and book chapters. Additionally, Foster served on the executive committee for the national Gulf-South Summit on Service-Learning and Community Engagement, co-chaired the program committee of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium’s annual international conference in Birmingham and is a member and past chair of the board of Alabama Possible.

“It has been an honor to serve Auburn University all these years, and I’m blessed to have worked with the dynamic leadership of University Outreach and dedicated coworkers in my office, as well as so many other great people across campus and beyond,” said Foster. “Outreach and engagement are truly the heart of our land-grant mission, and the part of the Auburn Spirit which urges us to make a difference in the lives of people all across our state.”

Foster and his wife of 30 years, Lesley, reside in Montgomery.

Last Updated: June 23, 2020