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Volume 8, Issue 1 | SPRING 2017

Academic Enhancement Plan including the new Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice 1

SPRING 2017 Volume 8 Issue 1

President | Dr. Timothy L. Smith, PhD, PhD Editor | Lesa Moore Copy Editor | Kathy Dean Graphic Designer | Jay Adcock, Staff Writers | Tonya Gollotte, Garrett Hughes, Shannon Mason, Lauren McCaghren, Samantha Moats, Annamarie Smith, Trey Taulbee Staff Designer | Amanda Pritchard Class Notes | Lauren McCaghren Photographers | Dan Anderson, G.M. Andrews, Barbara Brousseau, Zach Gaines, Garrett Hughes, Johnny Hunt, Mike Kittrell, Mark Kolakoski, Lesa Moore, Allie Normand , Amanda Pritchard , Bill Starling, Trey Taulbee Cover Photo | By Trey Taulbee Editorial Office University of Mobile, TorchLight 5735 College Parkway Mobile, Alabama 36613 Phone: 251.442.2210 Email: TorchLight is published by University of Mobile Office of Marketing and Public Relations and is distributed free of charge to alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the university. Issues may be viewed online at Postmaster: send address changes to Office of Marketing and Public Relations, University of Mobile, 5735 College Parkway, Mobile, AL 36613.




30 A New Day, A New Journey

4 President’s Message 6 University News


50 Focus Fridays 54 A Spectacular Event Christmas Spectacular

60 Seeing God’s Hand At Work Fred Wilson

64 The Remembrance Tree A Christmas Tradition

68 I’m A Story

18 Giving ALUMNI 72 Alumni Stories Homecoming 2016 2001 World Series Team Reunion Meredith McCarson Patrick Trawick Britton Johnston 84 Class Notes

Annamarie Smith

Photo by Dan Anderson 3



am convinced that God has something special in store for University of Mobile. This university is not just a place students attend to gain an education, but a pivotal point in their lives in shaping their intellectual understanding of their desired discipline while understanding the implications and practice within the context of Christ. We are a unique community comprised of many parts, as we are told in I Corinthians 12, but with one common purpose. This purpose is to foster student engagement in intellectual inquiry through the establishment of academic learning opportunities that are centered on the person and works of Christ. This is who we are: A Great Commission university centered on Christ. It is the foundation of our new Mission Statement: University of Mobile is a Christcentered academic community providing liberal arts and professional programs to renew minds through intellectual and spiritual development for the fulfilling of one’s professional calling. It is the foundation of our new Vision Statement: University of Mobile is committed to being a premier Christ-centered academic community providing comprehensive liberal arts and professional programs to distinctively transform the world. It is the reason for our biblical worldview that plots the course for our guidance and mentoring of students as they journey through their educational process, expressed for our university through three primary Scriptures: Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Genesis 1:26: Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness... Romans 12:2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may provide what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. It is the foundation for our new Core Values: Christ-centered • Academically-focused • Student-devoted • Distinctively-driven As an academic community, we teach, mentor, serve and lead each student for the ultimate opportunity to prepare him or her to effectively serve the world through one’s professional calling in accordance with Christ. As the student is prepared to effectively serve the world, both the graduate and the academic community of University of Mobile furthers the kingdom of God. It has been a fast-paced fall semester, with much excitement generated by the university’s rebranding, innovative four-day academic week, Focus Fridays, new centers and schools, facility renovations, new healthcare labs... and the list goes on. It is my hope that, as you read about many new ways we are furthering His kingdom, you will discover new ways to partner with us.

Timothy L. Smith, PhD, PhD President Higher Education for a Higher Purpose


Higher Education for a Higher Purpose

C H R I S T  C E N T E R E D | A C A D E M I C A L LY  F O C U S E D | S T U D E N T  D E V O T E D | D I S T I N C T I V E LY  D R I V E N

You are on a jour ney to discover God’s pur pose for you. At University of Mobile, you are challenged academically and renewed spiritually in a community where you are known. Know yourself. Know your calling. Be Known.



University of Mobile Nursing Students Show Caring Hearts Through Wagon Donation Two trailers loaded with 32 Radio Flyer wagons and children’s riding toys were more than a service project for University of Mobile School of Nursing students. They were a way to share the love of Jesus Christ. “It’s not just four wheels. It’s a memory for a child, it’s an experience for a child. It really provides healing for a family,” said Jenelle McElroy ‘00 & ‘08, assistant professor of nursing, as 36 UM School of Nursing students clad in maroon scrubs unloaded the trailers and pulled the wagons and toys into the lobby of University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital. The University of Mobile Association of Nursing Students (UMANS) raised


Photos by Bill Starling

$2,700 to purchase the wagons for the pediatric wing of the hospital. The project was inspired by McElroy’s 7-year-old daughter, Makalynne, who looked forward to hospital visits during a period when she was chronically ill because of the opportunity to play with wagons. “We saw a need, and we wanted to meet that need. It’s what nursing is all about; caring and serving,” said Ashley Hillman, a junior in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Neal Ledbetter, vice president for student life, said, “We talk all the time

about the head and the heart, that ultimately results in the hands. You are doing that today, being the hands and feet of Jesus. That’s what we’re about as a university.” Catharine Hardyman, a senior and president of UMANS, said, “I am very blessed to be involved with a university that really focuses on not just the care in nursing, but the whole aspect of caring for the mind, the body and the spirit. That is something I feel is very unique to University of Mobile, and something that is tied directly to this project.

University of Mobile Holds First Fall Graduation in 18 years University of Mobile President Timothy L. Smith challenged graduates to be open to fulfilling the unexpected opportunities that God will place in their lives. “While the view outside may look very clear today and you may have your life planned based on your equipping from your academic preparation, I ask that you keep your eyes open for the unexpectedness that will come from Him,” Smith said during fall commencement ceremonies held Friday, Dec. 16 at Redemption Church in Saraland, AL. University of Mobile awarded 67 diplomas at its first fall semester graduation in 18 years. The university has held fall semester graduation only three years previously: in 1996, 1997 and 1998. All other years, students who completed their requirements for graduation at the end of fall semester would participate in graduation ceremonies held the following May. Smith told the biblical story of the birth of Christ during his commencement address, highlighting the roles of the innkeeper who turned Mary and Joseph away, and the shepherds who responded. “Some recognized what was happening while others missed Him and the picture that God was creating before the very eyes of Man,” Smith said. “At the end of this commencement, you will walk out those glass doors and you will begin to navigate the world in accordance to the shepherd or the innkeeper. In other words, you will begin to maneuver through life with a focus on this world as an innkeeper, or a focus on Christ as a shepherd in allowing Him to direct you in this world,” Smith said.

Photos by Trey Taulbee

“It is my prayer and encouragement that you choose to be a shepherd with a focus on Christ in allowing Him to direct your world instead of you taking on the world yourself. I can promise you that if you would take this path, you will not have to worry about the rules of life because He will be the guide of your heart and mind that will

lead to actions directed by Him,” Smith said. “And as this occurs, expect the unexpected.” Graduates by hometowns, including degrees awarded and honors earned, are located online at: 7


75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor was Subject of UM Lecture Craig Shirley, a nationally recognized author, historian, and political commentator, delivered a lecture titled “December 1941: 31 Days That Changed America and Saved the World” at this year’s installment of University of Mobile’s Billy G. Hinson Lecture Series. Shirley examined the crucial days that propelled the United States into the most devastating war in human history. The talk was held Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. in Ram Hall on the University of Mobile campus. The program, which included the lecture and a book signing, was free and open to the public. Shirley is the author of three bestsellers on former U.S. president Ronald Reagan: “Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America” (2014), “Reagan’s Revolution: The Untold Story of the

Campaign That Started It All” (2005), and “Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan” (2015). His book “December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World” (2011) appeared multiple times on the New York Times bestselling list in December 2011 and January 2012, while Last Act was named best narrative in the non-fiction category by USA Book News for 2015. A widely sought-after speaker and commentator, Shirley appears regularly on many network and cable shows including NewsMaxTV, FOX News, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, CNBC, C-SPAN and others. He has also written extensively for the Washington Post, NewsMax, the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Town Hall, the Weekly Standard, Politico,

Reuters, Lifezette and many other publications. The Billy G. Hinson Series was established by the University of Mobile College of Arts and Sciences to present academic programs dealing with major topics in American history. The series is named in honor of Dr. Billy Hinson, long-time history professor at the university. For more information, contact Dr. Lonnie Burnett at 251.442.2319 or

University of Mobile Jumps to #3 and #8 in 2017 U.S. News & World Report College Rankings University of Mobile was ranked 3rd in the South for veterans and 8th in the South among liberal arts colleges in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report college rankings released Sept. 13. The Christian university jumped 17 spots among Best Regional Liberal Arts Colleges in the South, from 25th to 8th. UM moved up 15 spots in Best Regional Colleges in the South for Veterans, from 18th to 3rd. “We are pleased to be ranked among the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report,” said Dr. Timothy Smith, University of Mobile president. Smith said the recognition serves to


spotlight the university and bring it to the attention of students and families searching for an academically rigorous, Christ-centered college. “We are grateful to be recognized in this report, as well as in other recent rankings that named University of Mobile among the best in the state, with a safe and beautiful campus and the best dorms in Alabama,” Smith said. “We are committed to renewing the mind and transforming the heart of our students through rigorous academics and spiritual development, so that our graduates are prepared to fulfill their professional calling as they transform the world for Jesus Christ.”

According to U.S. News & World Report, rankings are based on graduation and retention rates, assessment of excellence, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate performance and alumni giving, among other factors. U.S. News & World Report recommends students look at many factors when choosing a college, in addition to rankings. Other factors include location and feel of campus life; range of academic offerings, activities and sports; and the cost plus availability of financial aid, according to the report.

University of Mobile Names Carolyn Corliss, Ed.D., as Dean of the School of Education University of Mobile announces the selection of Carolyn Corliss, Ed.D., as dean of the School of Education. Corliss has served as professor of education, certification officer and assessment coordinator in the School of Education since joining the University of Mobile faculty in 2012. “Our School of Education has an excellent reputation for graduating exceptional educators, and Dr. Corliss has been a vital part of that success. She brings to her new role experiences at all levels of education, as well as in the business world of management and finance. As dean, she will continue to build on our reputation as we expand academic programs,” said Dr. Chris McCaghren, vice president for academic affairs. Corliss said creating new programs and increasing enrollment in the School of Education are among her top priorities as the university enters a new era under the leadership of a new president, Dr. Timothy Smith. “Teachers have a tremendous

Physical Fitness, and responsibility to prepare the State Department today’s students to of Education Advisory become tomorrow’s Council for Continuous leaders. I look forward Improvement in to leading our team Educator Preparation. in developing new She has made academic programs professional that expand knowledge presentations and been and opportunities in the published at state, education profession,” Corliss said. Photo by Trey Taulbee regional, national and international levels. Corliss began her career in She is local chapter counselor for education as a middle and high Kappa Delta Pi and is a member of the school physical education teacher. National Association of State Director She worked for nearly a decade as of Teacher Education and Certification, a manager and financial leader for Delta Kappa Gama, Alabama regional businesses, then returned Association of Colleges for Teacher to the field of education as instructor, Education, American Association of certification officer and director of field Colleges for Teacher Education, and and clinical programs in the School served as president of Certification of Education at Auburn University at Officers and Personnel in Education. Montgomery, prior to joining the UM In addition, she serves as a board faculty. member of the Eastern Shore Literacy Corliss serves on a variety of Council and volunteers with Prodisee committees and task forces, including Pantry and Habitat for Humanity. the State of Alabama Obesity Task Force, Governor’s Commission on

Award-Winning Author Discussed 1945 Holocaust Liberation at Oct. 24 Lecture University of Mobile sponsored a presentation on the Holocaust by author Matthew Rozell, who spoke about his book, “A Train Near Magdeburg: A Teacher’s Journey into the Holocaust, and the Reuniting of the Survivors and Liberators, 70 years on.” Rozell, an award-winning history teacher, author, blogger and speaker, discussed the 1945 liberation of a train transport carrying thousands of sick and emaciated victims of the Holocaust. He is an advocate of the power of teaching and the importance of the study of history, especially the lessons that must be learned and taught on the Holocaust.

Rozell spoke at 11 a.m. Oct. 24 in Ram Hall. In his book, Rozell reconstructs a lost chapter of history – the liberation of a “death train” in Nazi Germany in the closing days of World War II. He took eye-witness accounts, survivor testimony and memoirs, as well as wartime reports and letters. The presentation included photographs taken by American troops of the Holocaust victims rescued from the train. Rozell told the true stories behind the 1945 photographs taken by soldiers who were there. Rozell’s work resulted in joyful reunions on three continents, seven decades later. He has been featured

as the ABC World News “Person of the Week.” His work has been filmed for CBS News, NBC Learn, the Israeli Broadcast Authority, the New York State United Teachers and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Rozell has a blog at The lecture was made available through the generosity of SNCF (French National Railways) as a complement to the exhibit “Filming the Camps” provided by Mémorial de la Shoah at the History Museum of Mobile. 9





Photo by Dan Anderson

6th Annual Project Serve Served 80 Locations In Mobile/Baldwin Counties What happens when 1,300 people take a day away from work and school to volunteer at 80 locations in their community? A lot of good happens – if the day is Project Serve and the volunteers are University of Mobile students, faculty and staff. Enjoy these photos from 2016 Project Serve held on Friday, Sept. 23.

Photo by GM Andrews

Photo by Dan Anderson

Photo by Dan Anderson


Photo by Amanda Pritchard

Photo by Mike Kittell

Photo by GM Andrews

Photo by Amanda Pritchard

Photo by Mike Kittell

Photo by Mike Kittell 11



Photo by Dan Anderson 13


University of Mobile President Installs President’s Cabinet

Chris McCaghren

Kevin Wilburn

Neal Ledbetter

Lesa Moore

University of Mobile President Timothy Smith installed members of his cabinet during a convocation for faculty and staff held August 2016 to kick off the new school year. UM Board of Trustees Chairman Fred Wilson congratulated the new Photos by Trey Taulbee President’s Cabinet members. Cabinet members include: Neal Ledbetter – was installed as vice president for student life. A native of Alabama, Ledbetter holds a Bachelor of Science in human development and family studies from Auburn University and a Master of Divinity in missions, evangelism and church growth from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is currently completing a Master of Theology in practical theology and a doctorate in higher education from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ledbetter previously served as UM dean of students and has served in various roles at the university for the past 14 years. Previously, Ledbetter was student pastor at Parkway Baptist church in Auburn, where he was ordained. Ledbetter is married to Taylor Lee ‘09 and they are members of The People of Mars Hill in Fairhope. Chris McCaghren – holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies and classics from Samford University, a Master of Theological


Studies from Beeson Divinty School and a Doctor of Education in higher education leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University. McCaghren has served as vice president for academic affairs at UM since July 2016. He began his career in higher education at Samford University where he worked in advancement. Prior to Samford, he served as special assistant to Congressman Spencer Bachus in Washington, D.C. He returned to Samford University where he served under Dr. Andrew Westmoreland as assistant to the president for external programs and division head for the division of professional and continuing studies. Before assuming the role of vice president for academic affairs at UM, McCaghren served as dean of the college of education at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. He is married to Lauren McCaghren and they have a 20-month-old daughter, Callen. McCaghren and his family are members of Meadow Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, while

they are transitioning to a new church in Mobile. Lesa Moore – was installed as vice president for marketing and public relations. A native of Alabama, Moore holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from University of South Alabama and a Master of Business Administration from UM, where she was presented the Dr. William K. Weaver Jr. Honorary Fellows Award and Best Composition Paper Award in 2007. Moore previously served as executive director of marketing and public relations at UM, where she is an adjunct instructor in marketing. She has more than 25 years experience in marketing and public relations in the high-tech industry, retail advertising and higher education. She has developed and led award-winning teams whose advertising, public relations and design work has been recognized locally and nationally by the Bay Area Advertising Federation, Public Relations Council of Alabama,

Baptist Communicators Association and Higher Education Advertising Awards. Prior to joining UM in 2002, Moore was director of marketing communication at Xanté Corporation, an international high-tech printer manufacturer. Kevin Wilburn – was installed as vice president for advancement and assistant to the president for church relations. A native of Tennessee, Wilburn holds a Bachelor of Science from University of Mobile, Master of Arts in Christian education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently in the doctoral program for ministry leadership at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was the recipient of the Troy L. Morrison Award for leadership. Wilburn has served as vice president for advancement at UM since May 2016. Wilburn has also served on UM’s Board of Trustees and Board of Regents. Wilburn is an ordained minister and has served as senior pastor at three churches. He is active in the Alabama Baptist State Convention and preaches regularly in churches throughout Alabama. Wilburn is also actively engaged in the business community throughout Alabama and Tennessee. He is married to Amanda Wilburn and they have one son, Levi. Wilburn and his family are members of Spring Hill Baptist Church.

Lauren McCaghren Joins University of Mobile As Alumni Programs and Annual Giving Director University of Mobile announces the appointment of Lauren McCaghren as senior director for alumni programs and annual giving. McCaghren brings extensive experience to UM, having served in areas of alumni relations and fund raising at Samford University, Columbus School of Law, George Washington University Law School, and Cumberland School of Law. “Lauren brings a wealth of knowledge to our Office for Advancement that will enable us to expand opportunities for alumni to connect with University of Mobile and encourage a greater environment of philanthropy, said Kevin Wilburn, vice president for advancement. McCaghren said her first priority is to update the university’s alumni database and assure that all alumni have information about alumni chapters, news and events. She will be developing opportunities for alumni to partner with the university. “The 2017 year will be an exciting one for University of Mobile alumni,” McCaghren said. “We are developing new events and opportunities for alumni to connect with one another professionally as well as socially, and be part of University of Mobile today and in the future.” She encouraged University of Mobile alumni to update their alumni information online at alumni. McCaghren joins her husband on the university’s administrative team. Dr. Chris McCaghren, who previously served as assistant to the president at Samford University and dean at Anderson University, was named vice president for academic affairs in June. The couple has a 20-month-old daughter, Callen.

Photo by Trey Taulbee

As senior director of alumni programs and annual giving at Samford University from July 2014 to September 2016, Lauren McCaghren expanded homecoming activities, established an alumni volunteer program and reestablished alumni chapters in eight cities, created an internal alumni professionals network, and instituted an Alumni Showcase highlighting alumni to students across the university. She previously served as associate director of alumni and external relations at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law. As director of alumni relations at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law from October 2012 to June 2014, she created the CUA Law Advantage program, connecting students with over 300 alumni volunteers, and managed 73 alumni events over a single year. 15



2016 Photos by Dan Anderson

The first day on campus for Fall 2016 for new students included the President’s Convocation led by UM president Dr. Timothy Smith, where new students and parents were prayed for by faculty, student leaders and staff. Ram Rush orientation kicked off with a “Home for the Holidays” theme that included a Thanksgiving Dinner on the lawn and North Pole Christmas Celebration concert in Ram Hall.




Photos by Trey Taulbee

By Trey Taulbee


niversity of Mobile’s commitment to being a Christ-centered institution focused on rigorous academics within the context of a Biblical worldview will be symbolically represented with a new campus centerpiece currently under construction – the Great Commission Globe. The Great Commission Globe is a granite sphere engraved with a map of the world. Water emerging from the top will cascade over the globe into a pool at the base of the fountain. It will be located on the lawn in front of Weaver Hall, the university’s first building and a signature landmark for the institution. “This will be a reminder for each of us that our primary focus as a Christ-centered academic community is to point students to Christ in preparing their minds and hearts for service to our Holy God,” said University of Mobile President Timothy L. Smith. 19

FAITHFUL GIVING “The new Great Commission Globe is a reminder of why we (students) attend a school like University of Mobile.” Tara Bosarge

institution, and appreciation for Dr. Fred Lackey, for his many years of ministry and service to the church, community and university.” The overall project provides other much-needed landscape enhancements, including the installation of lighting, sod and sidewalks on the front lawn. Combined with the Great Commission Globe, the overall project is a visible expression of the heart of the university.

Smith, who was named the fourth president of the 55-year-old university in April 2016, said the project “evolved out of the establishment of our new biblical worldview that serves as the educational framework for this


New Tradition The project will be completed in time for graduation ceremonies in May 2017, which will be held on campus for the first time in 41 years. The upcoming graduation will mark the 50th graduating class of the Baptist-affiliated university. Previously, graduation was held on the front lawn from 1967 to 1976, then commencement moved off campus.

Most recently, graduations were held at the Mobile Civic Center arena. Students, faculty, and staff will now look forward to a warm send-off in the same environment that has profoundly impacted their lives. “I’m looking forward to graduating on campus because my college experience will end in the very place it began,” says Jared Lowe, an upcoming Spring 2017 graduate. “Commencement will feel like a family affair, and our university’s beautiful facilities will be given the recognition they deserve.” The globe will be an integral part of this new UM tradition that connects students, faculty, and staff to their Great Commission calling. This tradition begins and ends with students placing their hands on the globe, first as they start their college journey during Ram Rush and again as they graduate. The first touch during freshman commencement symbolizes each student’s intention during his or her college career to prepare academically and spiritually to fulfill a professional calling. The second touch upon graduation indicates their intention to use their academic preparation and spiritual growth to pursue their Great Commission calling. The Great Commission refers to Scripture found in Matthew 28:18-20, where Jesus instructs his disciples to spread his teachings throughout the world. “The new Great Commission Globe is a reminder of why we (students) attend a school like University of

Mobile,” says Tara Bosarge, SGA president. “It is a wonderful way to remember that we are meant to be disciples not only when we go out into the world with our diplomas, but also while we are earning them as well.” Honoring Dr. Lackey The project is being funded through donations to the “Dr. and Mrs. Fred Lackey Great Commission Tradition” campaign. It honors the late Dr. Fred Lackey, who died July 2, 2016, and his wife, Sue, of Athens, AL. Lackey had more than 60 years in the ministry, including leadership positions at the highest levels of Alabama Baptist and Southern Baptist Convention life. He served the university for three decades and with three presidential administrations in

Artists Rendering

various volunteer, full-time and parttime capacities. UM held a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 10 for family and friends of Dr. Lackey, as well as donors for the project. Kevin Wilburn, vice president for advancement, said, “Dr. Lackey dedicated his life to serving the Lord and loving people. The Great Commission Globe offers an

opportunity to honor his memory and passion for sharing God’s love as a pastor, University of Mobile trustee and regent, Alabama Baptist State Convention president, and leader in Southern Baptist life.” For information about the Dr. and Mrs. Fred Lackey Great Commission Tradition project, contact the Office for Advancement at 251.442.2223 or go to

Secure your sponsorship and tickets today! 251.442.2917 | 21





efore there were computers, there was Doris Davis and her Rolodex. When attorney Massey Bedsole wanted to correspond with someone, he would call out from his office in Mobile to his longtime legal secretary, whose desk was just a few feet away. Plucking a card from her Rolodex, Doris would give Massey all the information he needed to write a personal letter, including children’s names, what schools they attended, who was graduating or expecting a baby, and even the names of pets. “She had a Rolodex that anybody in Mobile would have paid good money for,” recalled Curry Adams, Massey’s daughter and executor of the estate of Doris M. Davis, who died in 2014 at the age of 93. Although Doris and husband Johnny did not have children, her life’s work will impact young people far into the future. She bequeathed her entire estate to University of Mobile, creating an endowed scholarship that will provide financial support for as many as 10 students each year, in perpetuity. An additional portion of her estate will go toward the construction of a globe

fountain that will be the centerpiece of the Lackey Great Commission Lawn. Kevin Wilburn, vice president for advancement and assistant to the president for church relations, said that a large part of the $350,000 estate gift created the Doris M. Davis Endowed Scholarship, which is an unrestricted, need-based scholarship that provides awards to students with financial need. “For many students, it will mean the difference of being able to attend University of Mobile, or not being able to attend,” Wilburn said. “This is a significant contribution to our endowment.” It was a university Massey loved, one he helped found and support throughout his life as a member and chairman of the board of trustees. What Massey supported, Doris supported. She assisted him in his legal work, as well as his volunteer and community leadership. They worked together for 60 years. “She believed in University of Mobile. She was there at the groundbreaking of the original building,” said Curry, Doris was born in Mobile on May 21, 1921, attended Barton Academy and 23

FAITHFUL GIVING “Doris has shown us the virtues of hard work and loyalty to a job, the wisdom of embracing a simple lifestyle in order to provide for her future, and the willingness to live independently and be happy.” Curry Adams

Create an

Endowed Scholarship Endowed scholarships at University of Mobile provide a significant way to honor a loved one, leave a legacy, and have an impact far into the future.

Murphy High School, and married John Davis in 1940 at the age of 19. They were married 38 years before he died. She began working for Massey Bedsole as his legal secretary in 1947, when the firm had four lawyers and four assistants. It grew to become Hand Arendall, one of the largest law firms in Alabama with more than 70 lawyers and offices in Mobile, Birmingham, Fairhope and Athens, AL. Doris never went to college, but obtained secretarial training and was an expert in shorthand. Throughout her career, she would type out legal documents on a manual typewriter with carbon paper for copies. She never made the move to computers, and she and Massey worked comfortably together in that fashion until it came time to move the corporate offices to the RSA tower in downtown Mobile. Massey decided it was time to retire. “They had worked for months sorting, shredding and passing on files to the appropriate lawyers,” Curry said. “The shelves and drawers were empty, the typewriter was covered, and Mass


at age 90 and Doris at age 86 happily went home.” Both died at the age of 93, several years apart. The red-haired, immaculately attired business woman with an outgoing personality was the first president of the American Business Women’s Bienville Chapter, which was formed as a network for working women. One year, she came in second place nationwide for “Secretary of the Year.” She was an active member of Mobile Toastmasters, showcasing that talent with a speech to the Mobile Bar Association on the trials and tribulations of a legal secretary. “She regaled the lawyers with 17 pages of confessions and stories told by secretaries about their bosses. She received thunderous applause, even by lawyers who recognized their own stories,” Curry said. “The thing that many people missed

Endowed scholarships may be created with as little as $10,000, and may be contributed to throughout the years. As the endowed scholarship fund grows, it will generate more interest that will provide scholarships of increasing amounts. For information about endowed scholarships, go to giving.umobile. edu or contact Kevin Wilburn, vice president for advancement and assistant to the president for church relations, at or 251.442.2223.

was that Doris was a savvy business woman,” Curry said. “She lived frugally with a modest wardrobe, clipping coupons, taking the Kiplinger Report and all those financial magazines and reading them cover to cover.” Into her 80s, she walked three blocks to a bus stop near her Midtown home, eschewed purchasing new clothes and household items since the

ones she already had were perfectly serviceable, and watched her pennies. “Doris has shown us the virtues of hard work and loyalty to a job, the wisdom of embracing a simple lifestyle in order to provide for her future, and the willingness to live independently and be happy,” Curry added.

Curry said Doris and her husband had a heart for children and helped support several orphanages, even bringing the children into their home on weekends. Providing the financial resources so that other people’s children could attend college appealed to her.

“She probably thought of herself as just one more person in a large law firm, never realizing how much she would impact others one day,” Curry said. “She would be thrilled.” 25



University of Mobile Golf Classic

A Perfect Day of GOLF Photos by Dan Anderson

By Tonya Gollotte “Perfect weather, wonderful fellowship, beautiful course” are just a few comments heard regarding the 19th annual University of Mobile Golf Classic. Twenty-three teams competed at Magnolia Grove golf course in Mobile on Nov. 18, 2016 to help raise funds for scholarships for UM students. Pharr Hume with Willis Towers Watson, one of the tournament’s gold sponsors, said, “It was an opportunity to show our support to University of Mobile as you continue to educate the Christian leaders of tomorrow. It was a great location for the tournament and the UM staff was outstanding.” Thank you, Mr. Hume. We were happy to have you as a first-time gold sponsor! Gary West, owner of G.A. West & Co. Inc., has sponsored this tournament since 2008. He said, “The decision to sponsor the UM golf tournament is an easy decision when taking into account the overall impact UM makes on the Mobile area. It helps that my wife and daughter are UM graduates, too!” He went on to say that he always enjoys the “good quality group of participants representative of our area, 27 27


A Perfect Day of GOLF and very helpful and cordial UM staffing.” Thank you, Mr. West, for your continued support of this tournament and University of Mobile for more than eight years! We want to send a special “thank you” to all who sponsored and participated and joined us on the green. Information about sponsorships and sign-ups for the 2017 University


of Mobile Golf Classic will be posted at, or call the Office for Advancement at 251.442.2917. We look forward to seeing you all for the tournament’s 20th anniversary. Bring a friend; it’s a great time! 29



Donor Appreciation Luncheon November 10, 2016 Ram Hall | University of Mobile Thank you for your loyal commitment and consistent generosity toward the mission and goals of University of Mobile.

Photos by Trey Taulbee 31


Out with the Old, in with the

New Steinways By Kathy Dean

University of Mobile is the 185th “All-Steinway School” in the world, after completing a year-long fundraising campaign to replace an inventory of aging pianos with 24 Steinway pianos. Now, students in the Christian university’s Alabama School of the Arts are practicing and performing on pianos considered by many professional musicians to be the finest instruments in the world.




ally Coveleskie, national director of higher education for Steinway & Sons Inc., made it official with a presentation Nov. 18 at Cottage Hill Baptist Church during Christmas Spectacular, UM’s 14th annual holiday musical extravaganza featuring over 250 musicians. “We are delighted to welcome University of Mobile to our family of All-Steinway Schools. What an impressive campaign this was!” Coveleskie said. The designation of All-Steinway School means 90 percent of the university’s piano inventory, from the practice room to the recital hall, must be designed by Steinway & Sons. UM raised $518,950 in one year through the “All Steinway, All Together” campaign. A $250,000 matching donation kicked off the campaign. Donors Sherry Turner and Mike Atkins of Naples, FL provided the initial donation in honor of Dr. Roger and Linda Breland “for 50 years of mentoring, teaching and equipping the next generation of Christian leaders and performers.” Turner and Atkins said from the moment they met Breland and students traveling with the vocal ensemble Voices of Mobile, “we sensed that the university was making a significant investment in our future leaders for Christ. We were instantly intrigued with the possibilities to partner in that effort. Our love for beautiful piano music particularly pulled us toward the All-Steinway effort. “Our prayer is that achieving this goal will serve to bring more faithful young people to the university to study and to develop their calling to serve Christ. We feel blessed to have had a part in this effort and know that all praise belongs to Christ for this


Photo by Trey Taulbee

wonderful vision coming to life there,” they said. UM Associate Professor of Music Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva, who is an internationally recognized Steinway Artist, and Associate Professor of Piano Becky Fox, who has taught over 35 years at the institution, were co-chairs of the All Steinway, All Together campaign. “Being an All-Steinway School is not only a dedication to a commitment of excellence, but it also provides the world’s best instruments for students and faculty. This will help us bring a higher standard to music education and grow academically. We will see a difference,” Onalbayeva said. Music composition and piano major Emily LaForce said practicing on Steinways makes a world of difference. “My ear is better developed; my dynamics are getting so much better. As far as touch goes, it’s consistent; you don’t have to adjust for each piano. I think the audience hears a truer portrayal of the music I’m playing,

because I have a clearer idea of what I’m practicing,” she said. LaForce said she is excited that “everybody has rallied together to support our cause to become an All-Steinway School. This is huge for our piano department, and significant for our community, that we are upholding excellence in this way.” Gifts of Love Tonya Gollotte, executive director for corporate and foundation relations in the Office for Advancement, said raising all the funds needed to replace 30-year-old pianos within one year “is just remarkable.” “We are so thankful to all of our donors who graciously gave to this campaign and weren’t afraid to dream big with us. This campaign was successful for two reasons: God and our donors. We are truly blessed,” Gollotte said. Throughout the campaign, one word continued to surface as donors spoke of their motivations to give: Love.

“My gift is for my dear friend Kadisha; for the college my husband and I have loved and served for many years; in memory of my mother, Edith Jordan Wilcox, whose love of the violin and piano has always inspired me; and for the love of Jesus Christ, who has blessed me beyond measure because He first loved me.” Susan Wilcox Turner Edith Jordan Wilcox

“My gift is for my dear friend Kadisha; for the college my husband and I have loved and served for many years; in memory of my mother, Edith Jordan Wilcox, whose love of the violin and piano has always inspired me; and for the love of Jesus Christ, who has blessed me beyond measure because He first loved me,” said Susan Wilcox Turner. The owner of Longleaf Land and Timber and local philanthropist is a former University of Mobile trustee and her husband, Dr. Larry Turner, previously served as dean of the School of Education. Turner and her daughter, Jordan Anne Garner, provided a donation that resulted in the new Steinway M grand piano now located in Onalbayeva’s office in Martin Hall. The donation in memory of Edith Mae Jordan Wilcox honors a woman who started her education in a one-room schoolhouse, graduated from law school and was admitted to the State Bar, and became an active community volunteer and part of the family land, timber and sawmill business in Washington County, AL. She graduated from Murphy High School in 1932 and went to Tuscaloosa with her two sisters and mother, where she attended the University of Alabama. She earned an LLB degree

Photo by Dan Anderson

from the School of Law in 1939 and was admitted to the State Bar. She was one of five women in her law school class of 85 students. Mrs. Wilcox and her husband, Roy, married in 1942. While he served in the Army Air Corps in New Guinea, Mrs. Wilcox began a tradition of volunteerism which ended only upon her death on July 12, 2011 in

Washington County. Gifts in memory of Dr. Roger Breland’s brother, Billy Breland, provided donors the opportunity to share their love with current and future students of the Alabama School of the Arts. Donations both large and small combined to match the initial challenge gift from Sherry Turner and 35


Mike Atkins. Significant contributions from Dr. Mark D. Pressley and Mr. and Mrs. Ike Scott of Scott Bridge Co. Inc. helped the university reach its goal by the one-year deadline. Onalbayeva attributed the campaign’s success to strong teamwork among the leadership team, the Office for Advancement, and the Marketing & Public Relations Office. “We also prayed and believed it could happen!” she said Good News News of the All Steinway, All Together campaign spread. Melinda and Louis Mapp of Fairhope, AL learned of the university’s goal and, in addition to making a financial gift, donated their own Steinway in memory of his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. L.E. Faulkner. “We have been thinking for some time that we wanted to downsize,” Louis Mapp said. They looked for a special home for the Steinway. “We wanted to be sure it had a home where it would be used and cared for. When we read about University of Mobile’s Steinway project, we thought that was an answer from heaven. It couldn’t be going to a better place,” Mapp said. What made the donation even more special to the Mapps was a family connection – their daughter and two grandchildren are currently enrolled at UM. “We’ve been talking about this for several years,” Mapp said. “You know how you know something is right? This is right. Having those connections is the icing on the cake. “It would make my grandparents feel really good. We’re thrilled,” he added. Onalbayeva played the piano in the Mapp’s home before it was transported to campus. She said the


Photo by Mark Kolakoski

piano, which was fully restored in 1967, has “a wonderful sound, a warm tone and great touch.” Joy and Inspiration UM students were an integral part of the campaign, from traveling to New York to select the piano honoring Billy Breland, to unwrapping new pianos delivered to Martin Hall, and showcasing their talents at special concerts for donors. “There was so much joy, emotion and excitement from the students when the new instruments arrived.

There were numerous comments about the beautiful tone they were getting from the instruments, and you could see it was a huge positive impact on their practice habits and, in turn, more inspired performances in concerts,” Onalbayeva said. As a Steinway Artist, “I feel that I have been blessed to be able to experience the joy and inspiration of practicing and performing on the best pianos in the world, Steinway. As a music professor, I kept thinking about how I could share this same feeling with all of our students and

Photo by Trey Taulbee

faculty at University of Mobile. If all of our students had access to Steinway pianos, then I knew our students would also experience this heightened level of inspiration, and an even stronger commitment to excellence,” she said. Onalbayeva said the university is just beginning to see the benefits of becoming an All-Steinway School. “I am seeing very positive feedback from potential students and from faculty about recruiting in general, as incoming students can see this commitment to excellency by providing them the very best pianos available,” she said. “I think the All-Steinway School designation is going to be extremely beneficial.” Gollotte added, “We’ve heard joyful, most perfect ‘sounds’ of love and giving since the beginning of this campaign. Whether it be the answer to a call-to-action by our matching gift donors by so many, an 80-year-old woman seeing a life-time dream of

“I am seeing very positive feedback from potential students and from faculty about recruiting in general, as incoming students can see this commitment to excellency by providing them the very best pianos available.” Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva

hers realized by playing a Steinway for the first time, seeing the amazement in the eyes of students when they toured the Steinway Gallery, many honoring loved ones by giving to the campaign, to the actual mechanics of a campaign run by design through

cooperation and collaboration of many dedicated faculty and staff – this campaign has blessed all who have participated. To all of our 157 donors, we say thank you! The impact made to the University of Mobile will be felt for years to come.” 37

A New Day,

A New

Journey By Kathy Dean

“University of Mobile is not just a university which students attend to gain an education but a pivotal point in each of their lives in shaping their intellectual understanding of one’s desired discipline while understanding the implications and practice within the context of Christ.” Dr. Timothy L. Smith, President

Photos by Trey Taulbee


“It means so much to be a student at University of Mobile, not only because of the latest and greatest technology and the innovations that are here, but because our staff, our administrators, our professors – they care about us. They make us feel special.” Erika Samuels


hen Erika Samuels walked into the new Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice on the second floor of Weaver Hall for the first time, she burst into tears. It was the first day of spring semester classes. School of Nursing students, faculty and staff excitedly examined two high-fidelity simulation labs, a skills lab, and a health assessment and sports science lab. Down the hall were offices and classrooms for the new College of Health Professions that included the School of Nursing, new School of Health and Sports Science and new School of Allied Health. Samuels, a senior majoring in nursing, choked up as she described the impact of the new Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice, and the impact her professors have on her life. “Having this new facility means we get the best technology; we’re top of the line. We’re going to be in so much demand when we graduate,” she said. “It means so much to be a student at University of Mobile, not only because of the latest and greatest technology


The emotional reunion of School of Nursing senior Erika Samuels and Philip Streit ‘96 & ‘16 at the ribbon cutting for the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice made national news, when NBC Nightly News aired the story Feb. 26. The pair realized that Philip had been Erika’s nurse the night she almost lost her life in a car accident over 15 years ago. See their reunion at the ribbon cutting at For the NBC story, go to 41

and the innovations that are here, but because our staff, our administrators, our professors – they care about us. They make us feel special.” Across campus, students in the School of Business studied in groups at tables in the atrium of Harrigan Center, while others lounged on couches or watched television monitors keeping them abreast of international news, stock market


fluctuations, and campus announcements. Faculty putting the final touches on their offices were preparing to teach classes for the first time in a building now dedicated to the School of Business. Less than one year into the new administration of University of Mobile President Timothy L. Smith, the Baptist university in south Alabama has launched the first phase of a major expansion of new academic programs and degrees. “We are beginning a new day and a new journey,” Smith told faculty and staff gathered in August for Faculty/

Staff Convocation at the start of the academic year. “I am convinced that God has something special in store for this university. For this reason, I am here to lock arms with you as God leads us to a new height of impact that we have not experienced before in the lives of the students, in this university and in service to this community.” Who We Are A new administration brings with it an opportunity to see a university through fresh eyes, to make adjustments, and to introduce new ideas. It is a unique moment to reflect on who we are as a university, and what

Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice

makes the institution distinctive. That reflection laid the groundwork for a transformative, university-wide rebranding that incorporated the description “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose” and the biblical concept of imago Dei – that each person is created in the image of God, created for a purpose. The new journey started with a new mission statement, vision statement, biblical worldview and core values. Our Mission: University of Mobile is a Christ-centered academic community providing liberal arts and professional programs to renew

Imagine looking at a hologram of the human body. You’re studying the heart, so you walk closer. The heart is pumping, right in front of you. You walk around it, examining it from all sides. You want to see what is happening in the arteries, so you walk into one and are surrounded by a virtual image of the inner workings of God’s creation. This is one of many state-of-the-art technologies in the new Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice in the College of Health Professions. Students and faculty had their first opportunity to experience the facility in January, and the center officially opened with a ribbon cutting on Feb. 21. Located on the second floor of Weaver Hall, the center includes two high-fidelity simulation labs – an obstetrics lab and a medical-surgical lab – a skills lab, and a health assessment and sports science lab. The newest addition is augmented reality technology that creates holograms of the human body, heart and other organs, so students can experience the inner workings of the body in a completely new way. Dr. Chris McCaghren, vice president for academic affairs, said the applications are truly limitless and could extend to academic areas throughout campus. “History majors can take a tour of the Colosseum, nursing students can see a 3D rendering of the human body or go inside the human heart,” he said. The goal of simulation learning activities in the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice is to promote improved bedside decision-making in patient care. Simulated experiences engage students in content comprehension, allowing them to transfer knowledge more readily from the classroom to the clinical area. Faculty use simulation as a teaching strategy and an evaluation tool. Jenelle McElroy ‘01 & ‘08, director of the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice, said the technology in the center increases understanding by presenting material in various ways that engage students who have different learning styles. “With infective endocarditis, we can talk about the disease in the classroom. Then we take the students to the lab, show them a normal heart and a heart impacted with infective endocarditis through augmented reality technology so they can understand the pathophysiology going on inside the heart,” McElroy said. “Then we’ll take students to the simulators and help them care for a patient with that condition. That brings a greater understanding to the student to apply what they are seeing and learning to patient care.” More information is online at 43

School of Business Harrigan Commons


Student Success Center

minds through intellectual and spiritual development for the fulfilling of one’s professional calling. Our Vision: University of Mobile is committed to being a premier Christ-centered academic community providing comprehensive liberal arts and professional programs to distinctively transform the world.

Our Mission

University of Mobile is a Christ-centered academic community providing liberal arts and professional programs to renew minds through intellectual and spiritual development for the fulfilling of one’s professional calling.

Our Vision

University of Mobile is committed to being a premier Christ-centered academic community providing comprehensive liberal arts and professional programs to distinctively transform the world.

A biblical worldview is based on three primary Scriptures: • Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” The first part of the verse is included on the university seal. • Genesis 1:26 – “Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” This text represents the term imago Dei, which is also included on the university seal, and expresses the thought that we are to be image-bearers of God. • Romans 12:2 – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may provide what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” This is expressed in the focus on rigorous academics taught within the context of a biblical worldview with a Great Commission focus on “renewing minds and 45

Student Success Center

transforming hearts.” Four core values are: ChristCentered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and DistinctivelyDriven. In short, Smith said, “We’re going to help students understand who God is. We’re going to help them understand who they are in Christ. And we’re going to help them understand the transformational process Christ wants to do in them.” New Academic Programs Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Chris McCaghren said he and Smith enjoy approaching education from an innovative standpoint that includes the flexibility to quickly respond to workforce needs and changing markets. “I call it ‘educational entrepreneurship,’ and that is, we try a bunch of different things, and we make no promises that everything will work, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. As part of that, we collect as much data as we can in the process and try to make an informed decision


about the validity of what we’re doing,” McCaghren said. Smith described a future for UM as “the Google of academic program development.” Within months, the university structure was reorganized to better align resources. New colleges and schools were created and others rebranded to prepare for expanding academic programs and increased enrollment. Weekly chapel attendance was required starting in August and an innovative four-day academic week with Focus Fridays kicked off in January (see page 50). It was a fast-paced start for a higher education industry that typically moves at a glacial pace. “Our responsibility as a higher education institution, and especially with our mission of imago Dei that we be the servants of Christ, is to stay on the forefront of marketplace needs so that graduates can go out and serve the community,” Smith said. “Because of our nimbleness and innovative mindset, we have the ability to develop programs efficiently.” With Smith’s background in

healthcare as a certified registered nurse anesthetist, his passion for healthcare education, and his track record at Union University for developing one of the largest faith-based healthcare education programs in the nation, an obvious area to expand academic programs was in healthcare. The College of Health Professions was created as the umbrella for the School of Nursing, the new School of Health and Sports Science that includes the Department of Kinesiology, and the new School of Allied Health. The Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice officially opened in February (see page 43). Pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), UM will offer a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP) beginning Fall 2017. An Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) for non-traditional students seeking initial licensure as a registered nurse will begin



BIOLOGY | Biomedical Sciences, Secondary Education CLASSICS* COMMUNICATION | Advertising, Public Relations, Broadcast Media, Communication Studies, Journalism ENGLISH | Writing, Secondary Education GENERAL STUDIES GOVERNMENT AND LAW | Criminal Justice HISTORY | Secondary Education MARINE SCIENCE MATH | Dual Degree in Engineering, Secondary Education PHILOSOPHY PSYCHOLOGY | Criminal Justice SOCIOLOGY | Criminal Justice, Social Welfare


SCHOOL OF BUSINESS ACCOUNTING | Corporate/Non-Profit, 5-Year Integrated Program with MBA BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION | Finance, Management, Marketing, 5-Year Integrated Program with MBA COMPUTER INFORMATION SYSTEMS | 5-Year Integrated Program with MBA

SCHOOL OF CHRISTIAN STUDIES BIBLICAL/THEOLOGICAL STUDIES | Academic Ministry, Church Ministry, Community Ministry GLOBAL MISSIONS | Creative Access, Global Studies



SCHOOL OF HEALTH AND SPORTS SCIENCES KINESIOLOGY | Sport Ministry, Sport Administration, Exercise Science, Health Education, Dual Certification in Physical Education and Health Education, Pre-Professional Programs in Physical Therapy, Athletic Training, and Occupational Therapy

Spring 2018. In the School of Education, the noncertificate program Bachelor of Science in Child and Social Development was added. Pending SACSCOC approval, the Master in Higher Education – Leadership and Policy (M.Ed.) will begin Fall 2017. The Alabama School of the Arts, formerly the School of Music, includes the Roger Breland Center for

*Offered Fall 2017 **Offered Fall 2017 pending SACSCOC approval ***Offered Spring 2018 ****Offered Spring 2018 pending SACSCOC approval

Performing Arts and the new Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre (B.M.). Pending SACSCOC approval, the Master of Music – Music Performance (vocal/piano) (M.M.) starts Fall 2017. The College of Arts and Sciences has added the Bachelor of Arts in Classics (B.A.). The School of Christian Ministries has been renamed the School of Christian Studies.

On-campus and online academic programs for non-traditional adult students are in the new Alabama College for Online Studies. One benefit of the moves is increased visibility and identity for schools. McCaghren said the successful launch of new programs is made possible through the efforts of a dedicated team. 47

Pharr Gym

“I’ve never been at a university with such dedicated faculty and staff; folks who are willing to work in some cases around the clock to ensure success. We have a great team of folks who have caught the vision of our president and who are working tremendously hard to execute that vision,” McCaghren said. Learning Differently That vision recognizes that today’s students want to learn differently. They want less seat time and more hands-on time, with internships and experiences that bring classroom learning to life in practical ways.


“Our intent is to provide a practical aspect for every discipline here. We know that comprehension of verbally taught information is not high. Therefore, most students want to put their hands on something, and we need to shift our pedagogy of teaching to provide that opportunity to help students relate in a way they can process and comprehend,” Smith said. The Student Success Center and academic programs throughout the university are actively seeking internships for students throughout the disciplines.

Asking the Right Questions Smith said collaboration is a key to UM’s future, and it isn’t simply a matter of asking the community and businesses how they can help the school grow. “We can’t ask the community: What can you do to help us be successful? We have to go out and ask the question: How can I help you be successful? And in return, how can University of Mobile have more prominence in this community?” Smith said. Instead, it is learning how to serve the community, build partnerships

Academic Enhancements at a Glance


College of Arts & Sciences College of Health Professions - School of Nursing - School of Health and Sports Science - School of Allied Health - Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice School of Business School of Christian Studies School of Education Alabama School of the Arts - Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts Alabama College for Online Studies


Bachelor of Arts in Classics Bachelor of Science in Child and Social Development (non-certificate) Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre Bachelor of Arts in Theatre

BEGINNING FALL 2017 *P ending SACSCOC approval Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP)* Master of Higher Education – Leadership and Policy (M.Ed.)* Master of Music in Performance (vocal) (M.M.)* Master of Music in Performance (piano) (M.M.)*

BEGINNING SPRING 2018 and collaborate using resources and avenues the university has access to, such as programs, courses and a highly intelligent and experienced faculty and staff. Into the Future There will be another phase of academic enhancements, Smith said. He anticipates a need for more space as programs such as healthcare grow, academic offerings throughout the university expand, and prospective students hear about the 4-day academic week and Focus Fridays. Signs of growth are here. Construction of the Lackey Great Commission Lawn project symbolizes the university’s Great Commission focus, and the construction equipment moving piles of dirt is a visible sign of the activity across campus. (see page18) The first ever Scholar’s Weekend

*Pending SACSCOC approval Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) Collaborative Special Education (K-6)*


School of Business – Harrigan Center College of Health Professions – Weaver Hall, 2nd Floor Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice – Weaver Hall, 2nd Floor Student Success Center – Behind Weaver Hall, formerly nursing

brought 51 academically gifted prospective students to campus in February, and a new enrollment process is reaching almost 90,000 prospective students a year to let them know about the university. While innovations throughout campus and those to come are exciting, they aren’t the driving force for the school, according to Smith. “This university has a rich heritage of having a theological focus. The opportunity to come here and foster that theological focus to a new mission, and the articulation of a biblical

worldview, is the most exciting thing to me. While we can create programs, we can create new buildings, the thing that will stay with these students is the theological focus and understanding of how to maneuver through the world, no matter what discipline they are in. “Programs come and go. You invest in a program until the market doesn’t need it anymore, then you change it out. But the spiritual side, the theological side, is something that should never wane from this institution,” the president said. 49


A Time to Refresh, Renew and Reinvigorate

By Trey Taulbee Students, faculty and staff returned to campus in January with a new academic schedule and an expanded selection of extracurricular opportunities. The university switched to a 4-day academic week and designated Focus Fridays as a time when the university family can join together in learning, service and rest. Why a 4-Day Week? Progressive companies across the United States have implemented a 4-day week in recent years to increase productivity, improve employee engagement, and provide better work/life balance for employees. While popular in the tech and business sector, this schedule is a rarity in higher education. However, University of Mobile is uniquely positioned to incorporate this approach, fulfilling its mission to provide spiritual and intellectual development in a holistic way. “We came to the conclusion that same type of structure could help us in both developing the head knowledge for students, but also the heart knowledge – and in terms of our faculty and staff, help them achieve that same work/life balance,” says Dr. Chris McCaghren, vice president for academic affairs. “We are providing our students with opportunities to really grow spiritually and eternally the same way that other parts of the week we help them to grow in their knowledge base.” According to University President Timothy L. Smith, helping students discover their imago Dei – who they are as image bearers of God – requires more than just classroom 51

Photo by Allie Normand

instruction. It requires living out those concepts in service to others before they graduate and enter the world. “It’s really about helping students come to understand there’s a place to take what you’ve learned off this campus, into the community, serve the people for the purpose of Christ, and that is the reflection of the imago Dei, and that’s what we need to do,” says Smith.

Photo by Zach Gaines


Many Options This unique approach to learning means that students attend classes Mondays through Thursdays. On Fridays, students focus on extracurricular activities and student life experiences. These experiences can include internships, field experiences, academic clubs and honor societies. Students may volunteer in the

Photo by Johnny Hunt

community with faculty or build mentoring relationships with local organizations. Students can also choose to pursue their own interests and have new experiences, like kayaking on Mobile Bay, traveling to inner cities across the U.S. for missions, or working on an in-depth study project in their field. The Office of Student Life has designed a robust model of weekend activities that includes everything from athletic games to movie nights, beach days, and service projects. These events not only keep the campus buzzing with activity, but also provide ways for students to build relationships across departments and within the greater community. “There are tons of events every weekend, and I think that brings us together as a community,” says Demetris Ogburn, senior sports administration major. Vice President for Student Life Neal Ledbetter and his staff coordinated across campus departments to develop an activity schedule that represents all facets of the student experience. “We are certainly committed to developing the mind, but we’re also committed to shaping the heart and character of students,” Ledbetter says. “So whether it is through intentional

“Focus Fridays have given us space to imagine and create experiential learning opportunities,” Brousseau says. “I love doing these projects with our students.”

Photo by Barbara Brousseau

service projects, intramural athletics, or internships, Focus Fridays provide students with a unique opportunity to apply the content and character formation they experience in the classroom.” Faculty and staff may use this day to spend time with their families, pursue their own volunteer interests, or use that time to provide hands-on learning opportunities and serve alongside students in the community. Barbara Brousseau, assistant professor of French, hosted students in her home one weekend. Together they made coquilles St. Jacques and le pouding chomeur as part of a French learning experience.

Building Community Overall, the approach has garnered a positive response from students and faculty. “We’re very excited about it,” says McCaghren.” “Like any good experiment, we are collecting data at every point, and we will analyze that data and make a determination if it’s something we feel is worth pursuing in the long term.” Smith has been intent on challenging students to serve in the community, develop relationships, seek internships and future employment. “It’s very easy for us to close the gate and function as a community inside the safety of the campus. “It will take time to build relationships, but there are those organizations out there that are seeking partnerships,” Smith says. “We hope it’s through internships, we hope it’s through relationships, through opportunities to say, ‘what is God calling me to do?’ And so we need to be corporately, as a university, saying “’Let’s go out.’” 53


University of Mobile’s 14th annual

Spectacular Event Christmas Spectacular

By Kathy Dean

Tickets to University of Mobile’s 14th annual Christmas Spectacular were nearly sold out even before the first night’s performance on Nov. 17. A new location – Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile – provided more seats for an audience that has been standing-room-only for the largest family-friendly Christmas concert along the Gulf Coast. “I was thrilled 10,000 people attended and 8,000 purchased their tickets online prior to the first night. For 14 years, we have ushered in the Christmas season along the coast, and this year was our greatest response,” said Dr. Roger Breland, executive director of the Roger Breland Photos by Dan Anderson


Center for Performing Arts in the Alabama School of the Arts. Christmas Spectacular started as a way for the university’s music and theatre students to participate in a professional production and learn the behind-the-scenes preparation required to perform with excellence. Each year’s production is different from the last, with fresh takes on old favorites, dramatic lighting and staging, and several surprises. “People’s lives were touched and changed as they responded to the presentation of 300 of our gifted and dedicated students, faculty and staff,” Breland said. Audiences worldwide had an opportunity to experience Christmas Spectacular when DayStar Television Network aired the program multiple times on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Locally, WALA

Fox10TV continued its Christmas morning tradition of airing an hour of Christmas Spectacular. The 2016 Christmas


Spectacular can be enjoyed throughout the year. DVDs and a Christmas Spectacular DVD/CD package may be ordered at In addition to Christmas Spectacular, the university has more than 20 ensembles presenting more than 600 concerts each year locally, nationally and internationally. Tickets for Mobilearea events may be purchased at



s a member and past chairman business leaders that met periodically of the University of Mobile with then-President Mark Foley. Board of Trustees, Fred He served on various committees, Wilson has had an insider’s view of the and was chairman from 2012 to 2014. university’s challenges and successes When Foley told trustees he was for the past 11 years. planning to step down, the board’s What he has seen brings tears Executive Committee asked Wilson to his eyes. to serve as board chairman during “For a the search for a Christian, your new president and fundamental the transition of desire is to see administrations. God. We may not Wilson also served see Him physically as a member of the as a person, but Presidential Search you can absolutely Committee that see Him work. was led by previous And I’ve seen that board chairman so many times” Terry Harbin. at University of Mobile, Wilson ‘Christ is the said. “It’s so Answer’ incredible. When The native of you see and you Grove Hill, AL, know, absolutely earned a bachelor’s By Kathy Dean without a shadow degree in public of a doubt, that you see God’s hand administration in 1974 and began his move – it’s overwhelming. I get career in the production planning emotional just thinking about it.” department at Vanity Fair Inc. in Wilson has just completed his Monroeville, AL, later moving into the second term as chairman of the board human resources division and serving of trustees. He joined the board after as personnel manager. being part of an informal group of In 1980, Wilson saw an opportunity


Photo by Trey Taulbee 61

“I’ve been a lot of places, and I’ve seen a lot of the world. And I know that Christ is the answer. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, what the problem is – Christ is the answer.” Fred Wison to go into business with his brother-inlaw in Mobile. Another partner joined the company, and each of the owners handled the strategic area of the hard lumber and pallet business that best suited their talents. Wilson’s easy manner and friendly personality served him well as he handled sales and export marketing, and P.J. Lumber Co. of Mobile grew internationally. He traveled extensively around the world, through Europe, the UK, Spain, Scandinavia and north Africa and, as markets shifted to the Far East, to Japan, Taiwan and Indonesia. Now, Wilson is semi-retired and focuses on his family, a farm in Grove Hill, and University of Mobile. One truth drives all he does. “I’ve been a lot of places, and I’ve seen a lot of the world. And I know that Christ is the answer. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, what the problem is – Christ is the answer,” Wilson said. A Different Spirit That biblical worldview is integrated throughout the university and is at the heart of the University of Mobile Board of Trustees, he said. The university has a 17-member board of trustees who are Southern Baptist business and community leaders from Alabama that serve at the appointment of the Alabama State Baptist Convention and in collaboration with the president of the university and the university’s board. Members serve in strategic roles on the Executive Committee as well as various subcommittees that serve to guide the university in fulfilling its mission. Each member can serve up to 12 years by fulfilling three consecutive four-year terms. A member must remain off the board for one year


following the completion of a 12=year appointment prior to being considered for a reappointment by the Alabama Baptist State Convention. Wilson said the board acts to support the vision of the university through prayer, financial support, time and service, and advice. “One of the great blessings of being on the board is being able to associate with all the other trustees who are very humble, dedicated Christian men and women,” he said. That spirit makes the UM board of trustees different from other boards where he has served. “In other boards, there’s almost always some personal agenda or small group agenda that is trying to guide things for personal benefit. Here, I’ve never seen that. There’s never been any politics. There’s never been any personal agenda outside of expanding the kingdom of God. Every person that has come through in 11 years, without exception, has been motivated by whatever is the best interest of the university,” he said. ‘God Did This’ Wilson said one of the most incredible experiences of his life occurred during the presidential search and his second tenure as board chairman. It started when Foley “called the shot” and said it was time for a leadership change. “That’s a tough thing for an executive to do,” Wilson said. “In every career, everyone comes to that point, if you’re really committed to the best interest of the institution, that you know it’s in the best interest of the institution for someone else to come in. Usually, it’s for personal reasons, but here, it’s a God-led thing, which is different. It’s being sensitive to the leadership of Christ that motivates a

lot of the action that goes on here” at University of Mobile. A key to the smooth search process was the national search firm, JobfitMatters, that used surveys and meetings with UM constituents to develop a clear picture of what University of Mobile was about, and filtered the information from 38 candidates through their process. The search committee was comprised of 10 people of varied backgrounds and experiences who were united in their desire to listen to God’s direction. “We were 100 percent confident that God had it worked out,” he said. “Our fervent prayer was, ‘Please keep us out of this decision. Please don’t let us miss what You want for this university. Please don’t let us get our personal thoughts and ideas involved with it. Make it clear. And please make us listen. We have full confidence that You’re going to tell us. Don’t let us miss it.’” The search committee interviewed six candidates, and Dr. Timothy Smith was the unanimous choice. “It was clear. You just knew that’s who God had sent here,” Wilson said. Smith had what Wilson considered one of Foley’s strongest attributes: an unwavering Christian commitment. “What God sent us, in His infinite wisdom and love for this place, (was) a man…with a love for Christ and an absolute commitment to leading this university the way God wanted it to go, and to reaffirm the biblical foundation for what we do here. “So we got the same heart (as Foley exhibited), surrounded by a different set of experiences and skills. Only God could prepare somebody like that. I have no doubt that God did this,” he said.

God Always Provides Wilson said he looks at the tangible needs of the university and sees God at work when there are buildings that need to be constructed, repairs that must be made, and upgrades that should happen. “God always provides, and the needs are always filled. That’s the way He works,” Wilson said. “We are to go forward in faith and full confidence in Him, because this is His university; it’s His institution, and as long as we keep that focus, there is no question about His faithfulness. It’s ours that gets shaky sometimes, but there’s no question about God’s faithfulness. “And He’s proven it over and over again, through the years here. Whether it be a staff position that needs filling, a new president that needs to come in, some impact the university has made in the community or somewhere in the world – God orchestrates all that. And the board of trustees gets to see, from the inside, God doing all that.” ‘Incredibly Exciting’ As Wilson serves the last year of his three consecutive terms on the board, he sees the potential for unlimited growth. The academic enhancements and repositioning of areas of the university are the seeds of a future that will be “incredibly exciting.” UM, he said, is truly a unique place. It starts with the biblical foundation, the unique educational process, dedicated people, and a board that is the university’s “biggest cheerleader.” “I will always be a fan and supporter of University of Mobile. It’s going to be exciting to see how the university gets from where it is today to where it’s going to be in five years. Because we will see God’s hand at work,” Wilson said. 63

A University of Mobile Christmas Tradition By Kathy Dean

The 12-foot Christmas tree that stands in the foyer of Weaver Hall near the end of fall semester is more than a sign of the season. This tree tells a story - many stories – about faculty and staff over five decades who invested their lives in teaching and serving students at University of Mobile. Photo by Trey Taulbee


Photo by Lesa Moore



his particular Christmas story began in 1966 as a project of Annie Boyd Parker Weaver, wife of founding president Dr. William K. Weaver Jr. The university, then called Mobile College, had been open only three years, and Mrs. Weaver felt something was needed to bring the young campus together. In the summer of 1966, while attending the annual national meeting of the Council for the Advancement of Small Colleges in Rochester, N.Y., Mrs. Weaver, Mrs. E. M. Keebler (wife of Dean Keebler), and Mrs. John H. Thomas (wife of Dr. Thomas, professor of religion) took their children on a picnic. In conversation that day, the idea of having an oldfashioned Christmas Dinner for faculty, administrative staff, and their spouses in the president’s home was born. Shortly thereafter, Dr. and Mrs. Weaver conceived the idea of The Remembrance Tree, which would be decorated with ornaments placed there by members of the college faculty and administrative staff. The ornaments could be handmade or purchased. Additional ornaments denoting events in the lives of faculty and staff such as the birth of a child, the completion of a degree, an honor bestowed, a special achievement, etc. could be added to the tree at any time. Many of the original ornaments and those added since represent something special about the faculty or staff

member who donated it, or something meaningful to them about the university, like a piece of wood from the organ that once sat in Weaver Auditorium.

When Dr. Weaver retired in 1984, the tradition ended and the ornaments were packed away. The Remembrance Tree tradition was revived in 1989 by Dr. Audrey Eubanks, then vice president for Academic Affairs, with an annual Christmas reception that was held for the next 10 years. In 1999, Dr. Mark Foley, the third president of University of Mobile, and his wife Marilyn hosted a Christmas dinner for the faculty and staff around The Remembrance Tree in the lobby of Weaver Hall. University of Mobile’s fourth president, Dr. Timothy L. Smith, and his wife, Penney, continued the tradition by adding ornaments in 2016, their first Christmas as members

of the university family. In keeping with the idea of giving ornaments that have meaning to the giver, Dr. Smith’s reindeer ornament wears a bow tie, which is the new president’s trademark attire. The Smiths started a new tradition in 2016, inviting faculty and staff to a Christmas tree decorating party. New faculty and staff were invited to add their ornaments to the tree, and other faculty and staff were invited to replace broken ornaments or add new ones. More than 350 unique ornaments decorate the tree. Among them is a 2016 University of Mobile ornament given to faculty and staff at the annual Christmas luncheon. The keepsake ornament bears the new University of Mobile seal. Throughout the Christmas season, The Remembrance Tree is a visible reminder that each person on the faculty and staff of University of Mobile is the imago Dei – created in the image of God, created uniquely to fulfill his or her purpose. The individual ornaments placed on The Remembrance Tree symbolize the individual beauty of each person created by God. When these ornaments are gathered together on a simple tree, the result is a work of beauty and a reminder of the impact that can be made when God’s people join together for a common purpose: Higher Education for a Higher Purpose. 67

I’m Not Just A Student,

I’m A Story By Annamarie Smith


From The Torch (

niversity of Mobile is a place where you are not just a student, but you are a part of an epic story. This is my story. I chose University of Mobile because of the family environment. When I stepped on the campus, I couldn’t help but feel at home. It felt so nice (and a little scary) to be greeted by so many smiling faces. It’s so funny, because now I am one of those creepy smiling faces. The thing that really sold me, however, was the genuinely loving attitude and overall atmosphere at UM. My professors are incredible! They actually care more about my learning than my grades, and that is absolutely how it should be. The professors here truly stand out. The thing I love is that when I would be having a hard semester or so many things going on to where my grades would slip, my professors would reach out to me immediately, asking how they could help or if everything was okay. Their caring attitudes inspire me each day to want to do better in their class. Honestly, college is hard and sometimes I want to give up, but having professors who are so supportive and encouraging…it keeps me going forward! I want to be a teacher because I want to aid in inspiring, molding, and shaping the young minds of our future generations. Even more so than that, I want to impact the lives of my students in such a way that it reflects Christ’s unconditional love, grace, and

patience. I want to be the light for the students who only know darkness. I also want to learn from them each day how to be a better teacher. The School of Education is preparing me by putting us in schools immediately. The School of Education truly understands that we learn by doing. With this understanding, they try to put us in various schools with various specifications, ensuring that we are experiencing as many things as possible. That way, by the time we get to student teaching, we are already competent and confident in the classroom. They also teach us the best and most recent research-based teaching strategies. Not to mention, we often do projects and activities that we create in order to put ourselves in the students’ footsteps. This reminds us and keeps us mindful of what it feels like to be a student, which helps us to plan better lessons. I recommend UM because, in my opinion, University of Mobile is the best environment for developing the whole individual. What I mean by that is, here at UM, it is not just about academics, though academics are very important. Here it is about developing into your full potential academically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and sometimes physically. Ultimately, at University of Mobile the goal is to not only better yourself, but to also better the things around you, and that is what sets us apart.

Photo by Trey Taulbee




t’s hard to express in a note the excitement that permeates University of Mobile these days. It seems everywhere you look there is an office moving, wall being painted, new furniture arriving, and a bowtie-clad president popping up with a smile and a word of encouragement. This is a year of big change for UM, but it’s also a year of reflection and celebration of all of the wonderful things about this place. Welcoming our newest alumni at December graduation, and welcoming back our eldest alumni, the Class of 1967 at the upcoming May graduation, reminds me that nobody knows this place better than you, our alumni. You have seen UM grow over the years, and have been an integral part of that growth. Through your time, your talent and your treasure you have given your best, and shaped this place into a vibrant family that puts Christ above all else. You are still a part of our family, and we are developing many more opportunities for you to stay engaged. We want you to be proud of your alma mater, and we hope you come back to see us at Homecoming in the fall to see in person all of the exciting change taking place. Be sure to update your information at and we will be in touch!

Lauren McCaghren Senior Director for Alumni Programs and Annual Giving


University of Mobile is committed to renewing minds and transforming hearts through a Christ-centered academic community that prepares graduates to fulfill their professional calling in accordance with the will of Christ. Your gifts are vital to sustain University of Mobile’s mission and keep the university at the forefront of higher education. Thank you to the many alumni, parents, employees and friends of the university who give their time, talents and finances to support University of Mobile. To read more about giving opportunities at University of Mobile, visit



Reviving a Family Tradition Homecoming 2016 By Garrett Hughes


omecoming is more than just a fun time with games and sporting events; it’s about family and tradition. Homecoming is about spending time with our internal family as well as our external family. It’s about bringing our alumni in to share old memories and create new ones. It’s about inviting our community in to be part of our extended family. To grow with us, to laugh with us, and to be there for one another. To be part of our University of Mobile family. Homecoming is more than an event, it’s a family affair.


From carnival games to a car smashing, plus wins from our volleyball teams and soccer teams, Homecoming 2016 was nothing short of a success. With over 800 people in attendance on Oct. 29, 2016, University of Mobile revived an old tradition. Students, alumni, faculty and staff, families and the community were part of the Homecoming celebration that began with a President’s Reception at 4 p.m. for alumni and current students. Dr. Timothy L. Smith took this time to

welcome our alumni, and get to know them, and thank them for their support. Following the reception at 4:30 p.m. was a soccer pre-game tailgate, along with a senior recognition. During the tailgate, families, faculty and staff were able to play a variety of carnival games, participate in the smashing of a van, enjoy lots of food and sweets, and take photos at the photo booth.

Photos by Dan Anderson 73


Homecoming 2016 Several sporting events took place throughout the day. Women’s volleyball began the day with a win over Middle Georgia State. Our men’s and women’s soccer teams played William Carey, both coming out with victories, and the annual alumni baseball game also took place, with a great turnout from our alumni Rams. Homecoming was hosted by the Student Life department. Student Life Coordinator Tyler Crane ’14 said homecoming was designed to be a family event, and to lay the groundwork for a bigger celebration next year. “The theme this year was ‘Fall Festival,’ and plans for future Homecomings are to stretch the event out over a full weekend to bring families together, both as a university family and as part of our community,” Crane said. Vice President for Student Life Neal Ledbetter said, “One of the unique things


about University of Mobile is the closeknit relationships we have with our students, faculty, and staff. It’s part of our DNA as a Christian university. We care about people, students, achievements, accomplishments, births, deaths, marriages, families, and all the important things that are part of family life. It’s hard to keep track of all of that without getting together once in a while. Homecoming gives us that opportunity.” 75


Rams Baseball 15-Year Reunion of the 2001 World Series participating team October 29, 2016 Photos by Dan Anderson



When Nashville Calls Meredith McCarson ’10 Operations Specialist and Tour Manager Celebration Concert Tours By Samantha Moats


eredith McCarson was 16 years old when she realized the Lord was calling her to Nashville, TN. This realization came when her father Ronnie McCarson, pastor of senior adults at Cottage Hill Baptist Church, took her to visit Music Row. Meredith fell in love with the city. Over the years, Meredith never lost sight of her Nashville dream and worked diligently to ensure she would someday make it to Music City. She earned a Bachelor of Science in communication with a minor in music from University of Mobile, obtained summer internships in the city, and developed and maintained a network of contacts in all areas of the music industry. All her hard work paid off as she now lives in Nashville and works for Celebration Concert Tours as operations specialist and tour manager. “Helping people in the music business is where my heart has been for years. I did not know what that looked like years ago,” Meredith said. Her clients are primarily church choirs, and she manages five tours a year with over 250 people on each tour. The tours include opportunities for choirs to perform in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Brooklyn Tabernacle, and “back up” Christian artists such as Natalie Grant, Travis Cottrell, Jason Crabb, Point of Grace and more. Celebration recently worked with the group Veritas, graduates of University of Mobile, as they toured


with Sandi Patty. Through her role as a tour manager, Meredith has had opportunities to travel to New York and Washington D.C. In the coming year, it will take her back to these places and add Ireland to the list. “I am being used not only to help people have the time of their lives on the tours, but they bless me as well,” Meredith said. “Hearing their stories, greeting them and making new friends on the tours – this does not feel like a ‘job’ to me. I always want to be a vessel for the Lord in whatever way that is.” In preparing for her calling to Nashville, Meredith chose to enroll at University of Mobile. She was impressed with the reputation of the music department and its offerings in commercial voice courses. During three of her four years at the university, Meredith toured with the praise and worship ensemble Impact under the direction of Dr. Pete Sanchez, who nurtured Meredith’s love for country music and instilled in her the freedom of worship. “Being a pastor’s daughter, I’ve been around the Church my whole life, but University of Mobile really helped me believe I could do anything to change the world,” said Meredith. “I find joy in helping other people. My communication classes helped me develop so many of the people skills I use in my role here. And spiritually… it was wonderful, a truly sweet time in my life.”

Following her freshman year at UM, Meredith went to Nashville for her first summer internship at a recording studio. Through the internship, she had the opportunity to meet and interview several recording artists. One such artist was Randy Cox, composer for the likes of Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. “Randy became my mentor, and now he is like a grandfather to me,” recalled Meredith. Meredith spent the next two summers of college interning with Cox at a music publishing company and learned more and more about the music industry in Nashville. It was during that third summer that Cox shared life-changing wisdom with Meredith: “Always be yourself. Don’t change for anybody but the Lord.” “I will never forget those words because it’s the best advice I’ve ever been given,” Meredith said, “People can see right through you if you’re trying to be something you’re not, especially in Nashville where everything is about relationships.” Several months after she graduated in 2010, Meredith’s parents encouraged her to move to Nashville, knowing it was where the Lord was calling her. By this point, Meredith had saved enough money to live in Nashville for two months while she searched for a job in the music industry. For an entire month, Meredith filled her calendar with meetings

and interviews with people she met and kept relationships with after her multiple summer internships. With two weeks of her savings left, Meredith’s father Ronnie emailed Rob Collins, who was a sales representative at the Christian music publishing company Brentwood Benson at the time. What makes this email significant is neither Collins nor Ronnie know or remember how Ronnie got his email. Even so, Meredith was hired on the spot and worked as a sales representative for Brentwood Benson from 2011 to 2013. Tragedy struck when Meredith’s mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells. “It was hard. I started feeling that tension of being here in Nashville but wanting to be where my family is,” remarked Meredith. She returned to Mobile and worked in real estate for several years while she and her family walked together through her mother’s treatment. “Nashville never left my blood. The Lord sent me to Nashville to grow even more spiritually,” said Meredith. This

continued growth helped her in the midst of her mother’s treatment. But in May 2016, Meredith received the offer to return to Nashville and work with Celebration Concert Tours under Dr. Phil Barfoot, an internationally recognized composer, author, music ministry professional and Dove Award winner. Dr. Barfoot has written and created over 40 major choral collections and musicals that collectively include more than 300 songs. So, with her mother’s blessing and encouragement, Meredith at last returned to Nashville. She is part of a music business networking group, did some session work last year on the side and plans to be used more in the studio this year when needed. She volunteers at retirement centers and nursing homes on the weekends. “I love the senior adults, and getting that time to sit with them and love on

them brings me so much joy,” she said. As for students interested in the music industry and life in Nashville, Meredith encourages them to work harder than seems necessary, particularly with the relationships students make with those in the industry. Her own persistence in following her dream included faithfully emailing Christian comedian Aaron Wilburn once a week for two months and collecting business cards of those she met during internships just to keep in touch. She advised, “Build real friendships with people in your field. You have to really learn and know people’s hearts to maintain relationships with them.” 79


Alumni Network Leads to Powerful Ministry Patrick Trawick ’06 Pastor Franklin Campus, Biltmore Church

Britton Johnston ’14 Worship Pastor Franklin Campus, Biltmore Church By Kathy Dean


hen Patrick Trawick ’06 was searching for a worship pastor to join a new church plant he was leading in North Carolina, he called fellow University of Mobile graduate Zach Adamson ’09 for a recommendation. The two had traveled during their school years with the ensemble Vision, and Zach was now serving as worship pastor at 3Circle Church, where another Vision alumnus, Chris Bell ’00, serves as lead pastor. “I may have a guy who would work well up there,” Adamson said, and he recommended UM graduate Britton Johnston ’14. Now, the two UM alumni serve together at the Franklin Campus of Biltmore Church, one of the top 100 fastest growing and largest churches in America. That’s how the University of Mobile alumni connection works. “I believe that the caliber of students UM is producing rivals any other Christian institution in the world. I want more of them to come serve with us in North Carolina,” Patrick said. Patrick and2016 Britton attended UM 80 TORCHLIGHT | FALL at different times, but their UM experiences made it easy to establish


bonds and work together. “It’s been a good partnership between Britton and I, because we had a lot of the same experiences going to the same school and had mutual friends – that’s how we got connected,” Patrick said. “We were able to get work done a lot faster; it felt like we knew each other. We learned the same things at UM, even though we were there at separate times.” Britton said being Alabama natives living in North Carolina added to the shared experiences. Patrick Trawick Patrick was born and raised in Malvern, AL. During his high school and college years, Patrick traveled the southeast leading worship with various evangelistic organizations and his college. Before graduating college in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in religion and church music, he served as a ministry intern at Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile, where later he was hired to be the high school pastor. In 2009, he and wife Aimee Jordan moved to east Tennessee to serve with Manley Baptist Church in a variety of roles, including student pastor, pastor

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of education and teaching pastor. In 2012, the family joined the staff of Biltmore Church to launch a new campus in Franklin, NC. Patrick serves as pastor at the Franklin Campus, where attendance averages 500 on any given week. Biltmore Church averages over 7,000 worshipers every week, meeting at five different campuses in western North Carolina. From 2007 to 2009, Patrick attended New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary in pursuit of a Master of Divinity. Because of his move to North Carolina, he transferred to Rockbridge Seminary where he completed his Master of Divinity in 2014. Currently, he is pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry in Transformational Leadership from Rockbridge Seminary and hopes to be

completed this year. The Trawicks have two sons: Haddon, 6, and Hudson, 2. Britton Johnston Britton, a native of Montgomery, AL, traveled and led worship with several UM ensembles, including Impact and Exit 13. He graduated in the spring of 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in worship leadership.

When Patrick called, the pastor was looking for a worship leader who had high character, competency for the job, and the chemistry to work with the existing team. Britton had all three. He joined the Biltmore Church staff in January 2015 to serve as worship pastor at the Franklin Campus. He met his wife, Brooke Reed, and they were married March 26, 2016. Their first child, Hensley Jae Johnson, was born January 26, 2017. Responding to the Call Patrick and Britton each felt a call to ministry. Patrick initially thought his calling was to worship ministry, but God made it clear during his college years that his calling was to pastoral ministry. Britton knew he was called to ministry, but didn’t know what capacity. He grew up in the Church of Christ, and decided he wanted to go into instrumental worship ministry. He gained experience in travelling ensembles at UM. The academic preparation and experience each had, although more than a decade apart, enabled them to be effective together “UM provided hands-on, realworld experiences that were easily transferable to the hands-on local church ministry I am doing here in Franklin,” Britton said. “The music department specifically prepared me not only with musical theory and professionalism, but spiritually as well.” Patrick said UM gave him a solid

educational foundation from which to launch his ministry. “Their commitment to conservative theological training was paramount in launching me into full-time ministry. What I learned at UM really laid the groundwork for what I learned in my master’s and doctoral studies,” Patrick said. “The education I received was extremely practical. It was always about changing the world.” In ministry together, they are focused on reaching the unchurched in Macon County and Western North Carolina, and helping disciple people to grow in spiritual maturity. “As a pastor, I have seen Britton help lead our people at the Franklin Campus to a better understanding of what worship is,” Patrick said. Choosing UM Patrick decided in the 8th grade, when the ensemble Vision sang at his church, that he was going to UM and that the Lord was leading him to ministry. Britton heard the ensemble Impact during his senior year of high school, and made his college decision then. Both said it was a life-changing decision, with memories and experiences they carry with them today. Patrick said choosing one favorite college memory is impossible. “From my first Ram Rush to graduation, to everything in between,” Patrick said. “I don’t know if I could nail it down to one thing. I loved everything and every minute at University of Mobile.” 83



John Jolly ’68 retired from teaching math in the Mobile County Public School System, most recently serving as math department chairman. He resides in Mobile, AL.


Watson (Gene) Ellzey ’71 retired from JC Penney, most recently serving as store manager. He and his wife Rebecca reside in Mobile, AL. Robert Neal ’71 is president of Intech Computer Systems Inc. and software developer of Healthcare Almanac. He and his wife Nan Teresa ’71 reside in Lake Worth, FL and have three children and four grandchildren. Allen Ray ’76 retired in January 2017 after 25 years of service at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, most recently serving as regional director- relationship management. He and his wife Beverly ’76 reside in Carrollton, TX.


Charles Weaver ’85 serves as director of the Intensive Care Unit at Byrd Regional Hospital. He and his wife Susie reside in Negreet, LA.


Gaye Brown Butler ’90 serves as director of marketing for Premier Medical. She and her husband Gavin reside in Theodore, AL. Tracy Travis Williams ’92 is an IT specialist with Knockout Pest & Termite LLC. She and her husband John Michael reside in Mobile. Their daughter Mackensie is a current UM student/athlete and is expected to graduate May 2017.


Duke Vinson ’94 serves as vice president of operations/executive director of RiverMend Health. He and his wife Jennifer live in Evans, GA with their three daughters ages 14, 12 and 6. Carrie Boyd Austin ’95 served as president of Austin chapter of Christian Counselors of Texas for 2.5 years, and is currently serving as president-elect for Christian Counselors of Texas (state level). She and her husband Jonathan ’96 reside in Leander, TX with their children Noah, 16 and Mikayla, 12. Anne Marie Bennett ’96 was honored to be selected as a Fellow of the American College of Critical Care Medicine (FCCM) last year. She resides in Savannah, GA. Shannon Simmons Locklear ’96 is a developer with Evident. She and her husband Tim reside in Bear, DE.


Donnette’ Hulsy ’02 is director of development and public relations for The MindSide in Birmingham. It’s the southeast leading provider of sports psychology. Marilyn Lewis ‘03 is a records specialist with the City of Mobile/Mobile Police Department. Lea McLaughlin ’03 works with Samaritan’s Purse where she is finance manager for Juba and South Sudan. She resides in Pensacola, FL. Micah Sutton ’03 serves as vice president of CCS Medical. He and his wife Adelle reside in Navarre, FL with their two children Brody, 6 and Adelynn 2. Brian “Bubba” Crowder ’05 is the founder of Fund the Nations, a nonprofit that has raised over $6 million for missionaries, adoptive families and

non-profits. He and his wife Whitney reside in Nesbit, MS with their three girls, Harper, 6; Lucy, 3; and Callie 2. Crystal Wolverton ’06 obtained her masters in secondary education from William Carey University after traveling overseas to play basketball in Ireland, Turkey and Australia. She currently teaches physical education and coaches basketball/ softball for the Pascagoula Gautier School District, where in 2015 she was named Colmer Middle School Teacher of the Year as well as Pascagoula’s District Teacher of the Year. She has a two-year old son, Brad Mobley. Ramona Evans ’09 serves as a qualified developmental disability professional with Mobile ARC. She recently celebrated her granddaughter Kali’s first birthday. Brent Vance ’09 was named to Mobile Bay magazine’s “40 Under 40” list for 2017. He is a clinical supervisor/ therapist at Lifelines Counseling Services. Lauren Burnett Wetzel ’09 resides in Saraland, AL with her husband Cody and son Alexander. She works at Thomas Hospital.


Don Whitt ’10 and his wife Kimberly reside in Calhoun, KY where he leads worship and IT at Buck Creek Baptist Church. Melanie Winfield Dunagan ’11 serves as vice president and area human resources manager for Regions Bank. She and her husband Scotty reside in Saraland, AL. Ryan Whitfield ’12 is a regional sales manager with Williams Communications Inc. He and his wife Whitney reside in Tallahassee, FL.

We want to hear from our Alumni! Weston Mason ’13 recently earned his CPA license and serves as a CPA at Mason & Company, P.C. He and his wife Ashley Shelton Mason ‘13 reside in Selma, AL. Abigail Pressley ’14 graduated with her MBA from University of Mobile in December 2016. David Burtt ’16 has joined First Baptist Church of Dover as music pastor.


Logan Crane ’14 and Halie Kitchings Crane ’14 were married in May of 2014 and reside in Aiken, SC where Logan is modern worship & creative arts Pastor at Millbrook Baptist Church. Kelcie Kinchen Stockstill ’15 married Zachariah Stockstill in 2015. They reside in Carriere, MS. Brandy Goins Smith ’06, ’08 married David Smith in June 2016. They reside in Saraland, AL where she is a first grade teacher with Saraland City Schools. Michelle Drashman Glassford ’02 married Mark Glassford on Oct. 21, 2016 at Aldridge Gardens in Birmingham.


Joy Brewer Antoine ’03 and her husband Jason welcomed their first child, Mollie Joyce, on Aug. 15, 2016. They reside in Daphne, AL. Jessica Compton Joseph ’13 and Marc Joseph ’12 married in November 2015 and welcomed a baby girl, Lilly Kate Joseph, on Nov. 29, 2016. They reside in Mobile, AL. Marc was also named as University of Mobile’s assistant men’s soccer coach in 2016.

Would you like to be included in a future edition of Class Notes? Just send us the latest information on you and your career accomplishments, weddings, births, and/or adoptions. High resolution (300 dpi) photos may be emailed to torchlight@umobile. edu; please include your contact information in the email. Class Notes are printed on a space-available basis. Mr. Mrs. Ms. Miss Dr. Name________________________ Maiden Name__________________ Spouse Name__________________ UM Graduation Year_____________ Major________________________ Degree Earned_________________ Home Address ____________________________

Wes Gay ’14 and his wife Cassandra welcomed Maclane Alan Gay on May 18, 2016. He joins big brother Ryland.

City__________________________ State________Zip_______________ Country______________________ Home Phone__________________ Cell Phone____________________ Email Address


Wade Ivey ’76 passed away Jan. 8, 2017 at the age of 62. He was the current pastor of Inspire Church in Hurley, MS. Thomas Wayne Dumas Jr. ’07 died Feb. 11, 2017 at the age of 32, only four days after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, acute myelogenous leukemia. He was director of family ministries at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. Previously, he served as youth and missions director at First United Methodist of Eufaula, AL, and prior to that was youth director and associate at Providence UMC in Spanish Fort, AL.

____________________________ Employment Information: Company_____________________ Title_________________________ Address______________________ ____________________________ Work Phone___________________ Other Information: ______________ ____________________________ _____________________________ Please list any news you would like to share with us. Copy and fax this form to 251.442.2512 or mail to: University of Mobile Alumni Office 5735 College Parkway Mobile, AL 36613 Or submit the online form at 85


Join us in congratulating our University of Mobile Rams for these notable accomplishments during the 2016-17 seasons! • University of Mobile Women’s Track and Field athlete, Jonina Brinson, was named South Region Field Athlete of the Year by the US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA). • Mobile Rams social media currently ranks 4th in the nation among over 220 NAIA schools. • SSAC Conference Champion 2016 - UM Volleyball team • SSAC Conference Champion 2017 - Competitive Cheer team • Jon Campbell named SSAC Coach of the year in Volleyball • Brian Person named SSAC Coach of the year in Soccer


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5735 College Parkway Mobile, Alabama 36613


2016 2015

2017 U.S. News & World Report

2017 U.S. News & World Report

2017 Institutional Research & Evaluation Inc. 2017


Torchlight: Spring 2017  
Torchlight: Spring 2017