Professor Emeritus Publishes Book on Alabama Pension Fund


Dr. Mark Fagan, department head emeritus for sociology and social work, has published a new book about the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), “Alabama’s Public Pension Fund Growth and Economic Expansion Since 1973.” 

This book outlines how the RSA grew assets and helped expand Alabama's economy through its investments and industrial recruitment for the state. RSA funds grew from around $600 million in 1973 to $43.8 billion in 2018 while earning $52 billion in investment income and paying $51 billion in benefits. RSA's most famous investment is The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, with its 26 golf courses and 8 resort hotels. Other investments for RSA include 65 TV stations, 125 newspapers and 15 buildings in Alabama and New York City.  

The book details how RSA diversified assets into billions of dollars in office buildings, golf courses, hotels, media companies, housing and other commercial industries which stimulated Alabama’s economy, created higher paying jobs and increased tax revenue. It spotlights how RSA played a role in almost every major industrial development project in Alabama since 1993 and assisted with financing for many of the corporations that developed plants in the state – from Airbus to Mercedes-Benz.

The oral history chapter includes statements from President Trump, US Sen. Richard Shelby, Gov. Kay Ivey, former Alabama governors Jim Folsom Jr. and Bob Riley, retired Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Janie Shores and retired Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, US Reps. Glen Browder and Jo Bonner, industrial developers Billy Joe Camp and Elmer Harris, and many others.  

Dr. Fagan compiled basic information from RSA newsletters, RSA reports, and news stories and interviews about RSA's activities over the last 45 years. It was written for RSA members, RSA Board members, RSA staff members, political and business leaders in Alabama, academic professionals teaching about public pension funds, and historians documenting Alabama history over the last 50 years. It also serves as a memoir of Dr. David G. Bronner, RSA CEO.

“Dr. Fagan has done a marvelous job of chronicling the events at RSA over the last 45 years and the impact of these events on Alabama,” said Bronner. “He presents me as the focus of these efforts and has included many photos of me as the head of RSA. However, the credit for the progress in Alabama goes to the many RSA Board members, RSA staff members, public teachers and public employees who contributed time and energy to the state." 

Dr. Fagan has been writing about economic impacts, history and development for 35 years. He is the author of “Attracting Retirees for Economic Development,” “Retirement Development: A How-To Guidebook,” “The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail: Its History and Economic Impact,” “Coastal Alabama Retirement Guide” and “Coastal Alabama Economic History.” He retired from JSU in 2012 after 31 years of service and resides in Fairhope.