GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) _ Bob Jones III said Thursday he will retire as president of the fundamentalist Christian university that bears his name and his son will take over.

Jones, whose grandfather founded Bob Jones University 78 years ago, has been president for 34 of his 65 years.

The school has grabbed headlines over the years for its involvement in conservative politics and its racial policies.

In February 2000, then presidential candidate George W. Bush spoke at Bob Jones University during his campaign. He was criticized for the visit because at the time, the school banned interracial dating.

The policy has since been dropped.

When Jones retires, following the school's graduation ceremonies in May, he will be replaced by the Rev. Stephen Jones, who has served as vice president for administration.

``The opportunity to step into the role occupied by my father, grandfather and great-grandfather is overwhelming,'' Stephen Jones, 35, said. ``I am eager for the days that lie ahead for Bob Jones University and believe that the Lord has wonderful things in store for us as we remain faithful to his word.''

In a congratulatory letter after Bush won re-election in November, Jones III wrote: ``In your re-election, God has graciously granted America _ though she doesn't deserve it _ a reprieve from the agenda of paganism.''

``You have been given a mandate. ... Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ,'' said the letter, dated Nov. 3.