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Volume 9, Issue 1 | SPRING 2018


SPRING 2018 Volume 9 Issue 1

President | Dr. Timothy L. Smith, PhD, PhD


Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations Editor | Lesa Moore

26 Know and Be Known

Copy Editor | Kathy Dean Graphic Designer | Jay Adcock,


Staff Writers | Rivers Brunson, Trey Taulbee, Heath Vester

32 Christ-Centered

Staff Designer | Amanda Pritchard Class Notes | Lauren McCaghren Photographers | Dan Anderson, Mark Green, Rusty Roberts, Trey Taulbee, Heath Vester, Katie West 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.

Making Disciples, Loving the Church

36 Academically-Focused Academic Rigor, Living Laboratories

40 Student-Devoted What Sets Us Apart

44 Distinctively-Driven Our ‘Why’

DEPARTMENTS 3 President’s Message 4 University News 22 Giving 48 Alumni Connections 50 Class Notes


PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Happy New Year from each of us at University of Mobile! We pray God’s continued blessings on you as you embark upon a new year and we continue our 2017-2018 academic year preparing students for their Great Commission calling. As we reconvened for 2018, God is blessing us with new curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students. From the curricular perspective, the university is excited to announce that in addition to the currently offered 48 areas of study, the university is seeking SACS-COC approval to offer the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in fall 2018. This will be the first doctorate degree offered in the history of the university. In addition to this new academic program offering, an emphasis is being placed on the continued growth of existing and new academic programs in liberal arts and professional schools. Some of these include new academic programs in music, theatre, education, nursing, theology and throughout liberal arts. From the co-curricular perspective, the university is excited about the opportunity to enhance dining services and provide for additional student learning spaces. Plans are currently being developed, but each of these developments will strive to enrich the residential experience of the student. With an emphasis on each of these areas that will continue to strengthen and integrate the curricular and co-curricular aspects of the students’ educational experience, we enhance the opportunity to prepare students for their Great Commission calling as the graduate engages the world. Come join us! We would be delighted to share with you the exciting new developments occurring throughout the university. We are grateful for your partnership as we serve Christ together through the lives of students and supporting alumni in furthering His kingdom. Many Blessings,

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

Photo by Dan Anderson 3


Photo by Trey Taulbee

University of Mobile Viral Video Asks ‘Do You Wanna Be Happy?’ A video of the University of Mobile vocal group Voices of Mobile performing the 2015 hit “Wanna Be Happy?” has over 8 million views since it was performed Oct. 15 at Abilene Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia. Among those sharing the peppy inspirational “how to” song was its author, Kirk Franklin. The video got another boost when actor Morris Chestnut shared it with his 4.9 million Facebook followers. It has also been shared by Southern Living magazine and Baptist Press. Tyler Allen, the 20-year-old sophomore from Mobile whose rhythm-and-blues lead vocals bring an emotional charge to the gospel song, said it’s obvious why it is striking


a chord. “I think what people are looking for now is something to cling to, something to give them hope. If you listen to the words, this song gives you the steps for how to be happy; it breaks it down for you. Jesus is the start to true happiness, by giving yourself to Him and letting Him take control of your life,” Allen said. The 16-member Voices of Mobile is one of 19 ensembles in the Alabama School of the Arts at University of Mobile. During the 2017-2018 academic year, they will perform about 150 concerts at churches, schools, civic and community events across the nation. They are well-received everywhere they go – their rendition of Franklin’s “My World Needs You” at

the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Nov. 7 in Mobile brought the audience to its feet. But being a member of Voices isn’t just about the music, according to Roger Breland, a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame who started the group in 2003 and currently is executive director of the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts in the Alabama School of the Arts. “Our mission is to present the gospel with excellence, to honor Him with our lives and praise Him with our voices. I want our students to be musicians second, and committed Christians first,” said Breland. View the video at

Graduates Receive Congratulations at December Commencement As the chimes of Lyon Chapel rang across campus, University of Mobile awarded diplomas to 100 graduates during commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 16. More than 1,200 family and friends gathered in front of Weaver Hall on the Dr. Fred and Sue Lackey Great Commission Lawn to celebrate the accomplishments of those receiving master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees. Alabama State Rep. Rusty Glover delivered the commencement address, urging graduates to exhibit a strong work ethic and to share their faith. “You are so blessed, and there is so much you can offer the world. The best gift you can give is to share the love of Jesus Christ through your testimony,” said Glover, a retired history teacher and author who has represented the 34th District in the Alabama Senate since 2006. UM President Timothy L. Smith, PhD, PhD, presented diplomas and congratulated the new graduates. Dr. Jane Finley, a retiring professor in the

School of Business, carried the ceremonial mace at the head of the procession of faculty and graduates. During the recessional, graduates carried on the university’s Great Commission Tradition, touching the granite Great Commission Globe as they passed. The action signifies their readiness to enter the world and fulfill their professional calling. It is a two-part tradition that begins for new students during President’s Commissioning, when they touch the globe as they start their college journey. J.R. Krivsky and his fiancé, Josi Ingram, were among the new graduates, and they are ready for the next step in their lives. Both earned a Bachelor of Science in worship leadership, with Krivsky focusing on church ministry and Ingram on music business. Krivsky will move to Texas for a

Photos by Dan Anderson

position as associate worship pastor at North Richland Hills Baptist Church near Fort Worth, and Ingram will move home to Memphis, Tennessee, to begin a job search and plan a May wedding. Both traveled and performed with Voices of Mobile, one of 19 performing ensembles that provide real-word experiences allowing students to put classroom theories into practice. Krivsky said that practical experience is one of many reasons he is more than ready to step into his new role. “I’m able to do what I feel called to do,” he said. “I don’t have to think about the performance; I can focus on leading people in worship.” 5


Math Professor’s ‘Christmas Tree Lights Spacing Calculator’ Creates Perfectly Lit Christmas Trees A University of Mobile mathematics professor has solved one of the frustrations of the Christmas season by developing the Christmas Tree Lights Spacing Calculator that anyone can use. Dr. Troy Henderson, professor of mathematics, developed the online calculator after he and his wife, Greta, were faced once again with figuring out how to evenly space lights on their tree without running out too soon or having too many left over. “This year we were too greedy with the lights at the bottom of the tree, and therefore we were in need of too many lights at the top to ‘tweak’ the spacing for complete coverage. We were forced to either pull the lights off and start again or purchase another strand of lights,” Henderson wrote in a blog on The Torch, the digital magazine of University of Mobile at They bought more lights, but the problem of uniform spacing still troubled him. “As a mathematician and a problemsolver, I still wanted to know the optimal spacing of the lights so that the distribution is uniform and the precise number of lights are exactly used without tweaking them,” he said. The online calculator uses the diameter of the Christmas tree at its base, the height of the tree, and the length of the strands of lights on hand. Input the numbers, and the calculator computes the vertical spacing you should have between rotations, the number of rotations you will have, and creates a picture demonstrating the result. The Christmas Tree Lights Spacing


Calculator is just one example of how Henderson challenges students to see mathematical problems in everyday life, and to have fun and a sense of personal accomplishment in discovering solutions. The professor has also worked out a mathematical model for the cooking process of

smoking barbecue. Alabama Public Radio interviewed Henderson about his unique approach to mathematics education. Henderson’s blog with a link to the Christmas Tree Lights Spacing Calculator is at

Miss University of Mobile 2018 is Crowned Erica Burleson, a piano performance major from Satsuma, Alabama, was crowned Miss University of Mobile 2018 at the 53rd annual pageant on Nov. 4 at Saraland High School Performing Arts Center. Burleson will represent University of Mobile at various events, including the Miss Alabama pageant this summer at Samford University in Birmingham. Participation in this pageant is the next stage of the Miss America pageants across the United States. Burleson looks forward to expanding her platform, “Hope for the Journey.” Her goal is to support children in foster care by packing backpacks with personal hygiene items, clothes, diapers, and stuffed animals – anything to ease a child’s transition into a foster home. She hopes to host bag packing events to contribute to the efforts, both on campus and in the community. “I have lots of ideas about how to get UM involved,” she said. “I’d like to plan a girls’ night where we all go shopping for items and pack backpacks together, or host my own benefit concert and have attendees bring donations for the backpacks.” A gifted musician in both piano and violin, Burleson won the talent award and the People’s Choice award before she was crowned Miss UM. She was also named Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants. For her talent, she performed a unique rendition of “Phantom of the Opera” on violin. “I wanted it to be very dramatic;

Photo by Dan Anderson

I wanted to make sure that I had an on-stage presence that you’d want to watch and listen, and that you wouldn’t want to end after 90 seconds,” she said. First runner-up was Kailee Grace Montes, a musical theatre major from

Atlanta, Georgia. Second runner-up was Olivia Phillips, a vocal performance major from Shawnee, Kansas. Phillips was also the winner in the Swimsuit portion. 7


UM Signs Partnership with Coastal Alabama Community College

Dr. Kathy Sheppard Named Dean of School of Nursing University of Mobile has appointed Dr. Kathy Sheppard ’85 & ’03 as dean of the School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions. Sheppard served as interim dean for the past year as the university added new healthcare degree programs and opened the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice. She is a 30-year veteran on the faculty at the Christian university. “Dr. Sheppard has worked tirelessly as interim dean during a period of significant expansion as University of Mobile adds new healthcare degree programs and opens learning centers with cutting-edge technology. She brings passionate and caring leadership to her role as dean of the School of Nursing,” said Dr. Chris McCaghren, provost and vice president for academic affairs. Under Sheppard’s leadership, the School of Nursing opened the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice with state-of-the-art patient simulators that provide healthcare students with realistic learning experiences. University of Mobile’s new Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program enrolled its first class in fall of 2017. In January 2018, classes started in the new Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN). Additional degree programs are being added to enable the university to graduate more healthcare professionals capable of meeting workforce needs throughout the region. The university’s rapid expansion in degree programs in healthcare fields


started in 2016 with the selection of Dr. Timothy L. Smith as the institution’s fourth president. Smith has extensive experience in Christian higher education and the field of healthcare education, and oversaw a 79 percent expansion in enrollment as dean of the School of Nursing at Union University in Tennessee. Sheppard holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Arts in marriage and family counseling from University of Mobile, a Master of Science in Nursing in administration from University of South Alabama, and a PhD in nursing from The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Before entering the field of higher education, she served in a variety of healthcare settings as a director of nursing, charge nurse and staff nurse. Sheppard is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the National League for Nurses, Alpha Theta Chi and is a former ACEN site visitor.

An articulation agreement between University of Mobile and Coastal Alabama Community college will ensure community college students a seamless transfer process into UM to complete their bachelor’s degrees. Dr. Timothy Smith, president of University of Mobile, and Dr. Gary Branch, president of Coastal Alabama Community College, recently signed the agreement. The plan was specifically designed for students pursuing careers in education or nursing. However, through consultation with University of Mobile staff, students from any area of study can benefit from the agreement. Joe Hudson ’06 and Danny Chancey ’79, two UM staff members from the Office for Academic Partnerships, aid potential transfer students by reviewing transcripts to recommend courses needed for a successful transition to University of Mobile. From their first semester at Coastal Alabama, students can map out their path toward a bachelor’s degree in any field. Hudson and Chancey are available to students in the University of Mobile office on the Bay Minette campus of Coastal Alabama Community College; it is located in 104-A Wallace Administration Building, and is open Wednesdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. until noon. To make an appointment, call 251.442.2383 or 251.442.2491.

UM Unites to “Give Back” During Project Serve It is a Christ-centered devotion to students that gives purpose to University of Mobile’s annual Project Serve, an organized university-wide day of service in Mobile and Baldwin counties, now in its seventh year. On Oct. 20, more than 1,000 red shirts featuring “#UMSERVES” flooded Mobile and Baldwin counties’ elementary schools, nursing homes, community centers, parks and churches. From cleaning dusty trophy cases at James Seals Community Center, to mascot-hugs at Saraland Elementary School, students and faculty hit the streets to fill the community with the love of Christ. “This is what we do as Rams. We give back,” said Katrina Hampton Frazier, recreation program supervisor for community centers for the City of Mobile. A 1999 graduate of UM, Frazier gave a thorough orientation that resembled a pep rally for students serving at one of the community centers she manages. “Together Everyone Accomplishes More,” an acronym for TEAM, was printed on a poster and displayed prominently at the front of the room. “My university is stepping up to the mic, and they have dropped the mic on the City of Mobile!” Frazier shouted, met with cheers from dozens of students and faculty. How does a day of service represent the core value of being “StudentDevoted?” “It provides an opportunity for us to go and build relationship and community, as well as serving the community as Christ calls us to, and to share the message of His gospel to other people,” said Philip Vo, a student from Mobile. President Timothy L. Smith shed his

Photos by Dan Anderson

trademark bowtie to work side-byside with students and faculty from the School of Business. Together, they cleared the small trees and vines cluttering Dumas Wesley Community Center’s newly acquired lot. Before he served lunch to the

residents at Twin Oaks Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, he had to wash the dirt and grime from his hands. His shirt was drenched with sweat. This is by no means a typical day at the office. This is Project Serve. 9


Dr. Pamela Miller Named Dean of Alabama College for Professional & Continuing Studies Dr. Pamela Buchanan Miller has been named dean of the Alabama College for Professional and Continuing Studies at University of Mobile. She will lead the Christian university’s expanding programs for post-traditional and graduate students, including online bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Dr. Chris McCaghren, UM provost and vice president for academic affairs, said Miller brings a wealth of experience to her new role, having most recently served as director of faculty success. “Dr. Miller has tirelessly worked to ensure a smooth implementation of Canvas learning management system as well as the creation of countless other opportunities for our university community,” McCaghren said. Miller is a native of El Paso, Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in English from Southwest Texas State University. She received a Doctor of Philosophy in instructional development in design from the University of South Alabama, where her research focused on characteristics of adult learners. She joined the faculty of University of Mobile in 1993 and has held positions including dean of the Center for Adult Programs, director of faculty support, and currently directs the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan. During her 25 years of experience in working with adult college students, Miller said she has seen a tremendous impact when adult learners take a step in faith to pursue their education. “Lives are transformed, families gain opportunities they would not have


otherwise had, and children receive incredible examples of discipline and perseverance. I am thankful to play a part in these students’ journeys,” Miller said. The Alabama College for Professional and Continuing Studies offers bachelor’s degrees in nursing, education, business, Christian leadership and ministry, and

psychology. Master’s degrees are available in music, counseling, nursing, family nurse practitioner, higher education, education, and biblical/ theological studies. For information about the Alabama College for Professional and Continuing Studies, visit or call 251.442.2287.

Higher Education for a Higher Purpose


Whether you are planning a career jump or looking to grow your skillset, our graduate programs will prepare you to step boldly into your future. You’ll get wisdom and investment from professors who care about you in a flexible format designed to work with your schedule.

DEGREE OPTIONS Master of Arts in Biblical & Theological Studies Master of Business Administration Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education (Online) Master of Arts in Elementary Education (Online) Master of Arts in Early Childhood And Elementary Education (Dual) (Online) Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education (Alternative)

Master of Arts in Elementary Education (Alternative) Master of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Master of Arts in Marriage & Family Counseling Master of Science in Nursing Education & Administration Master of Science in NursingFamily Nurse Practitioner Master of Music in Performance - Piano Master of Music in Performance - Vocal


UMOBILE.EDU • 1.800.WIN.RAMS • 251.442.2287 5735 COLLEGE PARKWAY | MOBILE, AL • 36613 11



UM Names Dr. Maryann Kyle to Lead New Graduate Programs in Alabama School of the Arts Dr. Maryann Kyle, internationally recognized as one of the finest vocal coaches of belt, legit and classical vocal technique, will lead the new graduate programs in the Alabama School of the Arts at University of Mobile. The university introduced two graduate programs in Fall 2017 with plans to quickly expand. Currently, UM offers the Master of Music in Performance – Voice and Master of Music in Performance – Piano. University of Mobile was recently named an “All-Steinway School.” “This will be a truly unique atmosphere and a truly unique set of degrees – highly specialized and highly focused,” Kyle said. “We are producing a quality, 21st century music program on the cutting edge of the business of music. It aligns with my passion, which is training teachers to perform in diverse genres and styles, and then teach what they do.” Kyle has earned a reputation among students for dynamic teaching and lightning-paced results. She has extensive experience teaching, coaching, and performing opera, recitals, concerts and Broadway shows. She actively mentors over 20 teachers of voice and theatre in various universities across the United States, and her students can be found on the stages of the finest opera and musical


theatre companies, conservatories and training programs across the globe. Currently, Kyle is professor of voice and pedagogy at The University of Southern Mississippi, director of vocal studies with International Performing Arts Institute (IPAI) in Thailand, and maintains a studio in New York City. She will join the Alabama School of the Arts faculty in Fall 2018. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in vocal performance and theatre from Louisiana State University; Master of Music in vocal performance and pedagogy, and Bachelor of Music in voice performance, both from The University of Southern Mississippi. Read more at

U.S. News & World Report Ranks UM #1 for Veterans and #5 Overall Among Regional Colleges in the South University of Mobile is ranked #1 for veterans and #5 overall among regional colleges in the South in the 2018 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings announced Sept. 12, 2017. The university was also named a “Best Value” school. The new rankings are a continuation of UM’s dramatic rise in the national Best Colleges listing, after the Christian university broke into the top 10 last year. Over the past two years, UM has moved up 20 spots among regional colleges in the South for veterans, and risen a total of 18 spots among regional colleges in the South overall. In addition to U.S. News & World Report, UM has also recently received several other top rankings for 2017/2018, which include one of the top 10 “Best Colleges in Alabama,” one of “America’s Best Christian Colleges,” one of “America’s 100 Best College Buys,” one of “Top Colleges in Alabama for 2017” for online programs, and named in “50 Safest Small Colleges & Universities in America.” Read more at 13 13

Photos by Dan Anderson

14 TORCHLIGHT | SPRING 2018 15 15


Photos by Dan Anderson

18 TORCHLIGHT | SPRING 2018 19 19


Office for Advancement


s I looked out my office window contemplating what I wanted to say to you all, I thought about a recent family outing. It was a lesson I was trying to instill in my children about the importance of helping others as we selected a young girl’s name off of the Angel Tree. As we went through the store picking out items the young girl had requested, each of my three kids was deciding how much they were going to contribute to the purchase of these items. One of the items on the list was a new bicycle, so as we selected the right bike, a beautiful pink bike. The kids stated that if we get her the bike, she will need a bike helmet. We also needed to get her some clothing and other items from the list. That day, all items were purchased for Molly, our angel’s name from the Angel Tree. The lesson my kids learned that day was the joy and the importance of helping others. I am also happy to report that, originally, each of my children was going to donate just some of their money to Molly – but at the end of the day they chose to give all the money they had earned so Molly could have an enjoyable Christmas. The lesson I learned from this family outing was to be grateful for the important things in your life: relationship with Christ, family, health and a job I truly enjoy. Also that, no matter the amount, it is important to give back to help those who are in need. Just like our angel, Molly, from the Angel Tree, there are many needs here at University of Mobile. Give me a call at 251.442.2272 if you are interested in learning how you can give back, whether it’s an outright gift or a deferred gift such as leaving the university as a beneficiary in your will. If everyone does a little, we can accomplish much in furthering His kingdom. Travis Grantham Vice President for Advancement University of Mobile


Annual Giving Meets the most essential needs of the university, directly improving the student experience.

Gift Planning and Bequests Includes bequests, life income gifts, asset protection, retirement plans, estate notes, etc.

Ways to


Endowment Giving Establishes a timeless fund, recognizing a loved one or someone who has made a significant difference in your life, that directly supports UM students.

Center for Performing Arts Supports the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts and Alabama School of the Arts.

Athletics Supports the UM Rams athletic programs.

Torch Society Supports student scholarship efforts.

Volunteer Offer your time and talents to strengthen your connection to UM and further the University of Mobile mission. 21 21 21


“I would have never been able to afford this school – the school that I wholeheartily believe in, without the faithful giving of donors.” Ashton Lewis



Lewis Senior Double Major in Communication and Music Business Hometown: Gilbertown, AL


grew up wanting to be in music. When I was in the 8th grade, an ensemble named Voices of Mobile performed at my church and talked about University of Mobile. That was it for me. I knew this was my dream school. I auditioned in the music department and received a scholarship that has pushed me forward. Because of this scholarship I have gotten to be a part of the Alabama School of the Arts, where I have been in musicals and five different ensembles. I have also been a part of Student Life and Campus Activities Board. I attend every event on campus – which is a blast. One thing that I am going to take away from my time here at the University of Mobile is my servitude. I’ve learned to be a servant on this campus through Project Serve and many other ways. We go to places like homeless ministries and children’s homes – and it has brought out the servant in me. That is something that I can walk with through life – I can be more like Jesus – be more of a servant. When I look back on all I have been involved in, I would have never believed that I would sing the way that I do or be able to talk to people the way that I do. And that’s because the University of Mobile has given me the opportunity. And it’s because of donors that have given scholarship dollars so I could stay at this school. I would have never been able to afford this school – the school that I wholeheartily believe in, without the faithful giving of donors. When you give from the bottom of your heart to the University of Mobile – it changes students’ lives. It makes their dream a reality like mine. 23 23


Photos by Dan Anderson



Classic Day By Lauren McCaghren

The 2017 University of Mobile Golf Classic presented by Coca-Cola was one of the best yet, with 23 teams participating and over $29,000 raised for the university’s Annual Fund. The event was held at the beautiful Magnolia Grove Robert Trent Jones golf course with catering by Briquettes. Golfers braved the occasional rain shower to compete for over $2,000 worth of prizes. Every golfer walked away with a prize pack including gifts from area sponsors and a Cutter & Buck golf shirt. A date has not been set for the 2018 tournament, but if you are interested in sponsoring or participating, please contact the Advancement Office at 251.442.2226 or 25 25



Knowand Be Known By Kathy Dean

“At University of Mobile, to ‘Know and Be Known’ is really a lifetime journey about the process of preparing intellectually and spiritually. In the journey of a life, it’s about bringing Christ to the forefront, so that He is the one to be known through your faith and your works.” Dr. Timothy L. Smith, President Photos by Trey Tailbee 27

“This is a university that is focused,that is Christ-centered. We know who we’re serving. We know our purpose.” Dr. Timothy L. Smith


niversity of Mobile is on the move – energetic and eager for a new journey. “We’re on the move to serve Christ in a very distinctive way that allows us to be very intentional, very focused, and very aggressive to be a leader in Christian higher education. I’m excited about that opportunity,” said University of Mobile President Timothy L. Smith, PhD, PhD. When Smith arrived in April 2016 as the fourth president of the university founded in 1961 by Alabama Baptists, he was impressed with the institution’s theological focus and strong Christian heritage, beautiful campus and sense of community. It was a solid basis for an expanded mission and vision to bring more academic programs and opportunities for students to fulfill their professional calling for a Great Commission purpose. And so began “A New Day, A New Journey” that would jumpstart the next phase in the life of University


of Mobile. Four core values give structure to the journey. They are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. “This is a university that is focused, that is Christ-centered. We know who we’re serving. We know our purpose. Because we’re student-devoted, we are able to be future-directed,” Smith said. The initial steps in the new journey “required building new programs; it’s required shifting responsibilities around. It’s required looking at facilities and figuring out how we maximize our facilities for the purpose of student growth and achieving our Great Commission calling. I think down the road we will continue that, because our work is never done,” he added. A five-year strategic plan, titled “Many Partners, One Mission,” was approved by the UM Board of Trustees in mid2017. Among its 107 initiatives is the goal of increasing enrollment – a goal Smith said was very achievable with the growth in academic programs and workforce development partnerships.

Already, the university: • Successfully rebranded • Added 9 new degree programs • Anticipate adding 11 new degree programs in Fall 2018 • Required weekly chapel • Returned graduation to campus • Restructured and created new academic areas • Launched Focus Friday 4-day academic week • Created the Great Commission Tradition • Started a concierge model of customer service • Increased enrollment by 124 students • Raised the academic profile • Earned its top U.S. News & World Report rankings Reflecting the university’s biblical worldview are the words imago Dei, seen on the back of the UM t-shirts students wear on campus and throughout the community, including at events like UM’s annual Project Serve. Another is the phrase “Know and Be Known.” “We want you to know your discipline. We want you to know Christ,” Smith said. “Then there’s the point where you leave this institution, and ‘Be Known’ is not simply being known for your achievements. It’s about being known for the purpose of Christ.”

Josh Beck ’17 Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Pastoral Intern, Mars Hill Church I understand the phrase Know and Be Known in two different ways. One way I understand it is in terms of community. University of Mobile was a place where I could know people on an intimate level, and they can know me on that same level. I’ve made some of the greatest friends I’ll make in my entire life here, and I plan on kindling these relationships into eternity. The other way I understand this phrase is in terms of truth. I came here to get an education, to know what’s right and what’s wrong, to know what’s true and what’s false. Now I’m more informed on how to go about pursuing truth, and I have an opportunity to educate others with the truth that I know. I hope the truth that I know – the truth that Jesus Christ has resurrected from death, and He has offered forgiveness of sins for those who trust Him with their lives – can be known by others as well. Austin Boyett ’17 Bachelor of Science in Music Substitute Choral Director, North Gwinnett High School Since I took my first step onto the University of Mobile campus in 2013, I have grown immensely. The academic rigor has always been supported by the outstanding core values instilled in me through each staff member, faculty member, and classmate. I have always been encouraged to Know; not only to attain knowledge of my content area, but to develop an awareness of and pure faith in what the Lord has done, is doing, and will continue to do in my life. My scholastic and spiritual preparation enable me to Be Known in my career field/personal life while allowing myself to be a vessel of our Savior’s Light. Trusting in God while holding my newly developed skills equips me to tackle the workforce with efficiency, kindness and professionalism. I am grateful to have been able to grow within a university which charges its students to Know and Be Known – both for our success and for God’s Ultimate Glory.

Jonina Brinson ’17 Bachelor of Science in Psychology Pursuing graduate studies In my years at UM, I participated in track and field, student life, and was a UM Ambassador. To Know and Be Known meant more than just sharing your name with individuals. To me, it means to be involved, meet new people, stand up and express yourself, and leave your legacy upon the campus. I’ve met incredible individuals all because I was instilled with Know and Be Known.

Ambria Reed Senior, Bachelor of Science in Nursing I am truly grateful to have attended a university where I was more than a number. The faculty and staff not only knew my name, but they dedicated time to know me personally and helped mold me into the young woman I am today. The phrase Know and Be Known encompasses a multitude of commodities. It’s about knowing who you are and whose you are. The phrase is about discovering oneself both spiritually and educationally, by using wisdom and spiritual guidance obtained from the university as we impact the world around us. 1 Peter 2:9 lets us know that we are meant to Be Known. We are to use our wisdom and biblical principles to impact people beyond the university as we change the world.

Sammiera Long Senior, Intercultural Studies My experience at UM has been such a blessing. The Lord called me to do missions, and UM has really exemplified what it means to Know and Be Known. While I learn about my field, I am also connecting with professors and students with a heart like mine.

Grace Knight Senior, Early Childhood Education I see Know and Be Known as sort of a challenge. It challenges me to dig deeper, to get closer to Christ and seek His purpose for my life as well as to stand out from the crowd. It is a great motto for all people to live by, but I think it is especially fitting for University of Mobile because it encourages us to reach our fullest potential and use our gifts to magnify the name of Jesus. Our professors are always encouraging us to know more and be the best we can be. We don’t need to sit in complacency; we need to reach excellence, and that is what Know and Be Known challenges us to do.

Abbie George Maggio Senior, Worship Leadership and Philosophy In my time here at UM, it is the growing knowledge of the person of Jesus that has constituted my personal understanding of what it means to Know and Be Known. I, like many others, entered college with burdens and fears that I would have liked to leave at home. In my pursuit of degrees in worship leadership and philosophy alike, whether in music courses, leadership courses, in reading modern philosophy, participating in honors seminars, or studying world religions, I have come to understand the person of Christ like never before. I have learned to know God as one who is not aloof or oblivious to man’s suffering, but One who suffers with us. As I progressed through my studies, this reality became a guiding principle for my life. Thus, to know God is to know His compassion for His people, that He collects all of their tears in His “bottle” and keeps them in His “book” (Psalm 56:8). To be known by God is to be embraced by the “Man of sorrows” who knows our deepest grief more intimately than even our own minds can comprehend. To know and be known by God in this way defines the truth that has been etched upon my heart during my time at the University of Mobile, and I am forever grateful. 29 29

Knowand Be Known

“I am grateful to have been able to grow within a university which charges its students to Know and Be Known – both for our success and for God’s Ultimate Glory.” Austin Boyett ’17

Hilary Schultz Senior, Theology To Be Known at University of Mobile is being able to go to each and every one of my professors for advice. To Be Known is to have a genuine conversation with Dr. Smith or Mrs. Smith and know that they truly care about me. To Be Known at University of Mobile is being able to walk through Java City and know almost everyone there because of how close our school is. Graduating in May comes with a lot of uncertainties, but I know that University of Mobile has prepared me to make Christ known in wherever He leads me.

Jamie Snellgrove Senior, Bachelor of Science in Nursing I have been with the university in one form or another for almost 10 years now. This means, with the exception of my parents’ house, I have spent more time here than anywhere else in my life. In many ways, I grew up here. As I look back on this time, it amazes me how there was always a specific person, whether a student, professor, or coworker, God placed in my path to help me grow or challenge me. As my role has changed, so have the individuals that surround me, yet there is always a consistency here that makes UM feel like home.

Thomas Smyly Senior, Theology To Know and Be Known are two inescapable desires built into the human genome. In the gospel, one finds that these two desires are met in the Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us, which Paul records elsewhere as being known by God (Gal. 4:9). One who finds himself in Christ finds himself fully known and fully loved with the invitation to know the One who initiated this whole process. University of Mobile nurtures this ideology by taking it and applying it to the classroom with the aim of applying it to the workforce and beyond. To Know and Be Known kindles the fire within one to make this truth relevant and known to others in whatever setting he finds himself, thereby fulfilling the Great Commission, which is the heart of University of Mobile.

Kayla Whatley Senior, Business Administration I have met so many people who have intentionally invested in me; people who genuinely care about my success. Because of my experiences at University of Mobile, I have grown to know and love myself, and to know and love other people. I have had the opportunity to serve others in my student leadership role with Campus Activities Board, and it has allowed me to be more involved on campus and gain many new friends. As a senior, it is bittersweet to be graduating soon, but this university has molded and prepared me to fulfill God’s calling of me, and I couldn’t be more thankful. #BeKnown


Anna Blake Barnett Senior, Kinesiology At University of Mobile, we want to do more than just get a degree and go through life. We want to take our knowledge and strive to be the best we can be for the good of the world and the people living in it.

Allison Gray Junior, 5-Year Integrated MBA SGA President In the community, people know who University of Mobile is, and they know what we stand for. They know the type of character that comes from the education of this university. They know when they hire a graduate, that person has a set of standards and a great work ethic. They know it’s a good person they are hiring, because they know what comes from University of Mobile. To Know and Be Known means you are known as a person instead of a student ID number. The teachers actually know you and know what’s going on in your life. They won’t just write you off. I can go into the dean’s office, or any of the professors’ offices, and either talk to them about what is going on in class and get tutoring, or talk with them about a problem I’m having, and they sit down and pray with you. 31

Christ-Centered Making Disciples, Loving the Church


Photo by Dan Anderson

By Trey Taulbee


lmost 90 percent of students raised in an evangelical home will leave the church during their college years. Let that sink in. In perhaps the most impressionable four years of their lives, students will abandon the faith foundations instilled in them by their parents and churches. Furthermore, less than half of practicing Christians are engaged in discipleship activities like attending small groups, studying the Bible, or meeting with a spiritual mentor. Students living on campus at University of Mobile eat, breathe, work, study, play, think and discover with their peers in the context of a Christian community. They have ample opportunities to engage with their faith on a daily basis. But it’s not enough for significant spiritual growth. “College students can exist in an echo chamber – you hear the same things, affirm many of the same things,” says Dr. Neal Ledbetter, vice president for student life. “But there’s wisdom in surrounding yourself with people that are older, wiser and have more life experience than you do.”

Photo by Rusty Roberts

Enter the Local Church In Mobile County alone, there are over 500 Protestant congregations. Over 100 of those are Southern Baptists. The challenge is getting UM students integrated into the lives of these churches – by focusing less on programming on campus and more on forging stronger partnerships with local churches. “A lot of our approach (in the past) was in direct competition with the local church,” says Chase Alford ’12, director of university ministries. Now, “we are a supplement to the local church – not a replacement. If all we do is connect them to university ministries, we haven’t prepared them to go out into the world.” Making the church connection begins the first Sunday morning of fall semester, when freshmen students are bussed to local churches as part of Ram Rush. Each week during the semester, a local church is invited to interact with UM students by feeding them, serving them, speaking, or participating in panel discussions. This encourages students to connect with leaders and find a church community that will mentor and disciple them. “We want to give students as many opportunities as we can to rub shoulders with local pastors,” Alford says. Student discipleship is also built and initiated by local churches. Current students are recommended by their pastors to disciple other students on campus. “It takes four years to change the culture of a college campus,” says Hannah Stokes ’16, assistant director of university ministries. “Our idea is that we get freshmen to buy in, be 33

ALUMNI FOCUS discipled and get plugged into a church. Then by the time they are seniors, everyone here has experienced that kind of investment.” AJ Nipper, a sophomore from Daytona Beach, Florida, believes that his involvement in a local church has been “critical” to his growth as a believer. “I’ve been able to walk alongside mature believers who push and encourage me to continue seeking Jesus – and witness firsthand what community looks like in the body of Christ,” he says. “I am truly grateful for the local church and for a university that recognizes the importance of it.” Theologically-Grounded, Gospel-Centered Weekly chapel services are a foundational component in the life of a Christian university. Not only are they designed for spiritual growth and formation, but to also give students exposure to outside voices and perspectives. UM Chapel has been revived to incorporate local and nationallyrecognized pastors, theologians, and authors that are, in Alford’s words, “theologically-grounded and Gospel-centered.” Some of these speakers include D. A. Horton, pastor of Reach Fellowship, a church plant in North Long Beach, California, and chief evangelist for the Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI); Danny Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Kate Yates, college and youth director for Open Doors USA. University Ministries continues to offer Tuesday night worship services, or True Spin, and students can take guys-only or girls-only weekend trips throughout the year to build stronger friendships and grow in community. But the days of inadvertently competing with churches is over. “We were creating a system that kept people busy instead of making them holy,” Alford said. “But there is an expiration date on what we do at the university in a student’s life. There is no expiration date on the local church.”


Making Disciples Through Multiplication TJ Joy ’08 College & Young Adult Pastor Long Hollow Baptist Church By Trey Taulbee “God has called us to be multipliers. That’s the way in which He wants to reach the world.” TJ Joy grew up the son of a pastor, Billy Joy ’83, making stops at churches in Crestview, Florida, and Enterprise, Alabama. He had seen different models of ministry and been part of various Bible studies, but what he experienced as a student at University of Mobile would shape him forever. “Neal, Buff (McNickle ’93), and Aaron Turner (in the Office of Student Life) brought me under their wings and showed me what Biblical discipleship looks like,” he says. “It’s investing your life into someone, holding them accountable, helping them overcome temptation.” After graduation, Joy worked in UM Student Life before taking a job as high school pastor at Valley View Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Being only seven minutes away from The University of Alabama’s campus, he began building his student ministry on the idea of discipleship by multiplication. By inviting college students to disciple high school students, he began to see how a ministry could grow in a healthy, sustainable way. “Anyone can create an attractive environment – but to be healthy, you have to pour into a few people that catch the vision and replicate that process,” he says. Joy went on to become college pastor at Woodstock Baptist Church in Georgia under pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention Johnny Hunt. Immediately, he saw the need to develop leaders in a ministry that was made up of freshmen and sophomores. “I realized 60 percent of our budget and resources had been spent on providing a weekly service,” he says. “So, we took a step back and asked how to better use these resources to raise up leaders.” The first year of ministry was spent with 10 adults discipling college students, who then multiplied to start their own groups. Woodstock went from 0 to 22 discipleship groups over the course of those few years. “Instead of people coming in to services to take in more information, we had students that were giving their time, energy and gifts to make disciples,” Joy says.

During this time, Joy met Pastor Robby Gallaty of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Gallaty had built a multiplication discipleship model called Replicate Ministries and provided training for churches, including Woodstock. Seeing how closely his ministry ideas aligned with Gallaty’s, Joy joined Long Hollow as college and young adults pastor in late 2017. “I knew it was the right time to join Robby, build on his disciple-making process and existing vision to know God, find community, make disciples and change the world,” Joy says. Joy will be spending much of his time investing in students at Volunteer State Community College – which is only a few minutes away and enrolls 10,000 students. “Some college ministries don’t think they’re successful unless they are in a prominent college town with a large state school,” he says. “But students at community colleges are a major opportunity because they don’t have the same experience as those living on a residential campus.” Commuter students don’t have the same communal advantages as those living with their peers on a daily basis. This can be challenging for building healthy, Christian community. “I tell my students – ‘You’re not meant to live the Christian life alone’,” he says. “It’s through the local church that God uses you to reach communities and the world.” This is Joy’s main goal –to get his students engaged in the disciple-making process locally and globally. “It’s a command from Jesus in Matthew,” Joy says. “He doesn’t say, ‘come sit and learn’ – when you’re following Jesus, you’re going to go and replicate what He does.” Having experienced this personal discipleship through the investment of UM faculty and staff, he knows that it can change a life. “My time at UM really changed the trajectory of ministry for the rest of my life. I no longer thought of ministry as a spectator but, instead, getting into the life of people and helping them see scripture for what it is.”

BE CENTERED At University of Mobile, we believe the purpose of college is to prepare you to fulfill your purpose.

We are Christ-Centered to produce graduates who can transform the world.

Grounded in a Biblical Worldview Submitted to the Word of God Engaging the World

We believe in Higher Education for a Higher Purpose


1.800.WIN.RAMS • 251.442.2222 5735 COLLEGE PARKWAY | MOBILE, AL • 36613 35 35 #BEKNOWN


Academic Rigor, Living Laboratories

By Kathy Dean


he days of sitting in a college classroom for an hour while a professor lectures are gone. Today’s students expect a robust learning environment that extends beyond the classroom. This fresh, new approach is changing how UM professors teach – and even where they teach – as classrooms convert into living laboratories and partnerships are developed that take students from all academic disciplines off campus and into the community for internships, mentoring and professional experiences. “Today’s students want to be in the classroom to pick up the theory in the professional discipline, but once that theory is learned from the textbook or from the professor, they will move to application and hands-on, where they can learn auditorily, visually and tactilely,” said UM President Timothy L. Smith. As University of Mobile responds to marketplace demands, it has a distinct advantage: UM delivers an education that goes far beyond simply providing the knowledge and skillset needed for a job. It is “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose,” a journey of intellectual development and spiritual formation that integrates faith and learning for


the purpose of fulfilling one’s professional calling. It is academic rigor and practical application founded on a biblical worldview. The Challenge As innovative teaching methods challenge students at a deeper level, they also pose a challenge for institutions like University of Mobile. “The challenge that any institution faces today within academia is that in order to move forward, whether it’s aesthetically or program-wise, you must have resources. As we evaluate our academic program and line it up with the workforce needs of the community, we are also looking at how we begin to obtain those resources – not just financial, but also in faculty, staff and facilities,” Smith said. Increasingly, universities are building components on campus specifically to meet student expectations for a varied learning environment. Living laboratories can take many forms, such as a performance hall on campus that brings the community to UM for concerts and theatre productions, or an operating room that allows anesthesia students to have the same experiences on campus as in a hospital. The new Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice is the first of what will be many more living laboratories

Photo by Heath Vester

in UM’s growing College of Health Professions, the umbrella for the School of Nursing, School of Health and Sports Science, and School of Allied Health. In the lab on the second floor of Weaver Hall, a professor programs state-of-the-art patient simulator mannequins to experience a medical emergency such as a heart attack, and students must quickly apply the knowledge they learned in the classroom to stabilize the “patient.” It is one piece of a healthcare education puzzle that could one day include an anatomy lab where students can put their hands on an actual heart

NEW MASTER’S DEGREES Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner Master of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Master of Music in Performance – Piano Master of Music in Performance – Vocal U.S. News & World Report

Institutional Research & Evaluation Inc.

College Buys Institutional Research & Evaluation Inc.

U.S. News & World Report

NEW BACHELOR’S DEGREES Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Bachelor of Arts in Classics Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre Bachelor of Science in Child and Social Development Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design DEGREES STARTING FALL 2018* Pending SACSCOC approval and/or Academic Affairs approval*

U.S. News & World Report

Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Bachelor of Science in Higher Education Leadership and Practice

Bachelor of Science in Software Development Bachelor of Science in Collaborative Special Education K-6 Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Broadcast Communication Bachelor of Science in Digital Media and Advertising NEW ACADEMIC AREAS • The Alabama School of the Arts with Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts • The College of Health Professions, an umbrella for the School of Nursing, new School of Health and Sports Science, and new School of Allied Health • The Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice • The Alabama College for Professional & Continuing Studies • The Office for Global Engagement

Photo by Katie West 37 37

ALUMNI FOCUS and gain an intimate understanding of flow dynamics, the heart muscle, and how normal physiology can abnormal. “We know what we want to accomplish. We know that’s what Christ is calling us to do. But we must find the faculty, we must find the facilities. Those are some of the initial challenges – not challenges that can’t be overcome, but challenges of patience and of looking five and 10 years down the road, and how you keep building. Every year builds on itself. And that’s exactly where we’re heading,” Smith said. How it Works The Center for Performing Arts provides a familiar illustration of the new pedagogy, and how the university’s recent organizational restructuring better defines the process. “When you take what used to be the Center for Performing Arts and rename it the Alabama School of the Arts with the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts, what we basically did was take the didactic portion and say, ‘This is the Alabama School of the Arts; this is the classroom.’ “Then we took those same students and said, ‘Now let’s apply what’s happening in the classroom, and let’s go out on the stage, let’s go out to the churches, let’s go out to the community – to the world. And your living laboratory now is the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts. We send hundreds of students out throughout the year, presenting hundreds of concerts and performances,” Smith said. Stepping it Up These experiences and others across academic areas are now part of a bigger picture – one in which the entire university is stepping up its emphasis on experiential learning. Just a few of the many new initiatives include: • Liberal Arts Strategic Employment Requirements – or LASER – that requires all majors in the College of Arts and Sciences to have a 3-credit-hour internship,


Follow Your Passion Morgan Copes ’09 & ’11 Vice President, Birmingham FC, LLC Co-founder, The Birmingham Hammers

By Kathy Dean Morgan Copes believes in following your passion – and in seeking advice along the way. That’s especially true if the advice comes from your former professors in the University of Mobile School of Business. Morgan’s passion is soccer, and he loved playing forward from 2005 to 2010 for the University of Mobile Rams. He graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in business administration, in 2011 with a Master of Business Administration, then worked in retail management before joining the management team at Regions Bank. In addition to classroom lessons, Morgan learned something about his professors. “I learned that my professors were not just here to give a lecture. There is a relationship after graduation; it’s the power of networking and the benefit of calling somebody just to bounce ideas off of,” Morgan said, after receiving the first Alumni Stars award from the UM School of Business in October 2017. Morgan’s ideas, and his passion for soccer, are changing the professional sports world in Alabama. Along with UM alumnus John Killian ’10, co-founded The Birmingham Hammers club-level soccer team. For four years, he volunteered as president and general manager and, as the team thrived, the city of Birmingham discovered a passion for soccer. In 2019, a United Soccer League expansion club, Birmingham Legion FC, is set to begin play, and Morgan is vice president of the new corporation that is bringing it in. He is involved in marketing, branding, strategic development on corporate sponsorship and ticketing sales, and operations. “My MBA helped fine-tune some of the skills I use today,” he said. Morgan said his professors continue to be mentors. “You could see they were passionate about teaching their students and seeing them grow and mature to successful business men and women. Without their passion for teaching, I may not have been successful at my passion, which was soccer.”

senior-level Capstone experience, or honors thesis. • All majors in the School of Business are required to complete three credit hours in an internship, study abroad, or applied learning course such as Enactus. New programs like The Business Breakdown are bringing business leaders to campus to share their professional and personal journeys with UM students preparing to enter the workforce. • Mentorships and discipleships for faculty, staff and students across the disciplines are being developed through the School of Christian Studies • The new May semester term, or May-mester, creates opportunities

for study abroad coursework and mission projects through UM’s new Office for Global Engagement. Biblical Worldview “At the end of the day, there is an underlying foundational platform that gives us the reason why we take care of those patients, and gives us reason to interact at different levels throughout a company, and that’s the biblical worldview. There are not many institutions in the country focused on that perspective,” Smith said. “Most institutions are about forming students’ cognitive development and sending them out to figure out the word. For us, we want them to figure out the world before they get out there.”

BE FOCUSED At University of Mobile, we believe college should renew your spirit and transform your mind.

We are Academically- Focused to Prepare you to fulfill your professional calling.

Rigorous Academics Practical Experiences Biblical Worldview Intellectual and Spiritual Development

We believe in Higher Education for a Higher Purpose


1.800.WIN.RAMS • 251.442.2222 5735 COLLEGE PARKWAY | MOBILE, AL • 36613 39 #BEKNOWN

By Heath Vester


ost universities say they care about students, but from my own experience at University of Mobile, I know there is something that sets UM apart from the rest. At University of Mobile, it’s more than just a slogan; it’s a way of life embodied by each faculty and staff member. The idea that a student can truly be known by his or her professors encompasses the spirit of the university and sets us apart from other schools. It’s starkly different from other classrooms where you’re just another face in the crowd. At University of Mobile, professors take an active interest in your life, and invest in your success. I began my college journey at a public university – but felt disconnected and alone. It wasn’t until the beginning of my sophomore year that I decided to transfer, after attending Christmas Spectacular (although I have no musical talent whatsoever), and that was the start of a brand-new journey. My time at University of Mobile was shaped by the professors who challenged my skillset, pushed me to reach my full potential, and helped me to form an entrepreneurial spirit. I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today if it was not for my professors who demanded excellence and showed me how my faith changes the way I work. As an art major, most of my time was spent in the Alabama School of the Arts, and that was where I made lifelong friendships. Megan Cary, my advisor and professor who taught most of my design classes, did everything she could to invest in my life. She taught me the technical skills I needed to be a successful graphic designer, showed me the importance of design and how it shapes every aspect of our daily lives, and also helped me understand how good design communicates to others. From an academic standpoint, my professors were dedicated to preparing us for our future careers. The professors are leaders and masters of their craft, but they are also mentors and take time to intentionally invest in the lives of each of their students. As for Professor Cary, she not only partnered with me to make sure I had the necessary resources and information to graduate, but also made sure that I was prepared to step into a job.


Photos by Dan Anderson

Student-Devoted What Sets Us Apart 41 41


“One of my favorite things about being here at University of Mobile is the privilege to pray for my students openly in

Devoted to Service Jessica Catlin ’13 Assistant District Attorney, Mobile County

the classroom, to share scripture with them, and pray with them.” Karon Bishop, instructor, School of Education

Photo by Trey Taulbee

Many others share this same UM experience. Through leading by example, pushing us to see us succeed, and helping us grow in our faith, the professors and staff made me feel like I was a part of a team, one that I still feel a part of today. Even as a working professional, I know that I can still go back to my professors and get meaningful feedback and encouragement. Professors that know me, and my story.


By Kathy Dean As an assistant district attorney for the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office, Jessica Catlin is pursuing her professional calling. Now, this University of Mobile alumna encourages current students to discover and pursue their own callings. She helps Dr. Julie Biskner, associate professor of political science, coach UM’s Mock Trial Team and prepare students for regional competition. As a speaker in UM’s new Ram Legacy program for firstgeneration-to-college students, she urges students to push through challenges and believe in themselves. “You come back and serve the same school that made you who you are,” she said. “People invested in you, and these people deserved to be invested in.” Jessica’s devotion to UM students is a direct result of her own experience. “My teachers knew my name. They knew what was going on in my life, and they cared to ask. They cared to help me when I was struggling,” she said. She decided to enroll at UM after visiting Biskner’s constitutional law class of about 10 students during a Preview Day and campus tour. She watched the professor push students to think, express opinions, and be prepared to defend them. It was a process that she would experience across the curriculum throughout her academic career. “It set me up academically. You have to know why you think what you think,” Jessica said. Other UM experiences pushed and broadened her. She was in RamCorps for three years and became section leader her last year, a walk-on player on the golf team her freshman year, held a workstudy job in the computer tech lab, and participated in campus and community life through programs such as UM’s Project Serve campus-wide day of service and being a senator in SGA for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Photo by Heath Vester She graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and was admitted to Cumberland School of Law, graduating with a juris doctor in 2016. After passing the bar exam a few months later and working in the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, she joined the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office in 2017 as an assistant district attorney. She decided to pursue a career in the law after seeing the difference it made in the life of her oldest brother, James. They were always close, despite his ongoing battle with addiction that resulted in time spent in and out of jail. Jessica said it took James hitting rock bottom and someone in the court system requiring him to get drug treatment in jail that turned his life around. James came out of prison clean. Unfortunately, James passed away five years later. His ongoing memory continues to inspire Jessica. “He has been my driving force,” Jessica said. “He never lied to me. He said ‘you’re going to do something better than this.’ I want to try to help people like him, to be hard yet compassionate with the law. Had he not had a prosecutor that would not let him have another chance, so that he had to go through jail and treatment,” he would not have been drug-free all those years. “He taught me to have a heart for people, but to have the knowledge that people will try to do what is best for them at the time, not what is best for the long run,” she said. James told her to look at the bigger picture. “My bigger picture in life is to be able to continue on with his memory and his story. He pushed me so hard to get to where I am,” Jessica said. James showed Jessica the positive impact a good lawyer could have on a person’s life.

BE DEVOTED At University of Mobile, we believe college isn’t something you do alone.

We are Student-Devoted to build a community where you can Know and Be Known.

Know your professors Know yourself Know your calling Be Known

We believe in Higher Education for a Higher Purpose


1.800.WIN.RAMS • 251.442.2222 5735 COLLEGE PARKWAY | MOBILE, AL • 36613 43 #BEKNOWN

Photo by Katie West


Our ‘Why’ By Rivers Brunson


ame, money, success – to most of the world, these are the idols to seek. They are the reason many university students see a higher GPA as Getting Paid Assurance, their ticket to six-figure careers and notoriety. A high GPA at University of Mobile means so much more, because it never stands alone. UM’s combination of Academically-Focused courses, Student-Devoted faculty and staff, and a Christ-Centered worldview provide a culture of excellence that is God-glorifying and others-minded. It is a Distinctively-Driven institution. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made On day one, students are ushered into Freshman Seminar, a course that helps to level the academic playing field, as they are mentored in everything from study skills to budgeting, and selecting a major and career. Each student is required to complete the Clifton Strengths for Students Inventory, which is a personality assessment that yields the participant’s


Photo by Mark Green 45 45

ALUMNI FOCUS five primary strengths. Brenda Davis, assistant director of First Year Experience, is the campus cheerleader for the Strengths Inventory. “We want to capitalize on their strengths and help them understand how that can help them as they look toward careers,” she says. “But it also helps them understand who they are as students, as leaders, as friends, and as members of their individual networks.” By knowing their strengths, students are able to pursue the major and career for which God made them “fearfully and wonderfully.” A Study in Service Students have a welcome respite from the packed four-day class schedules in the form of Focus Fridays, and they spend them in a plethora of ways. Around the mid-terms, study areas are typically packed out on Fridays. Of course, when the weather is nice, you may find students blowing off steam on the new disc golf course on campus. This year, each residence hall has partnered with a non-profit organization in Mobile County to provide volunteer support throughout the school year. Light of the Village, Home of Grace and Feeding the Gulf Coast are a few organizations with a spike in volunteers on Fridays. Just as students are led to engage in service on Focus Fridays, they are always encouraged to think of ways to serve in their future careers. “Faith at Work” is a series of panel discussions hosted by Dr. Todd Greer, dean of the School of Business, which features local professionals in secular fields who live out their faith on a daily basis. “All too often, Christians view life with the lens that creates a separation between the sacred and the secular. We talk about our work self, our family self, our church self,” Greer points out. “In turn, we exalt the importance of the work of the pastor or missionary as being higher than the painter or mathematician.” The series, he hopes, will shine a


The Work Revolutionary Julie Clow ’05 Sr. Vice President of People Development Chanel By Rivers Brunson What sort of journey takes a psychology student in Mobile, Alabama, to the highest rung of a fashion empire’s corporate ladder? Well, a journey that includes a giant pitstop at the “happiest workplace in the world.” Julie Clow graduated from University of Mobile in 1995 with a bachelor’s in psychology. The young mom finished her four-year degree in half the time, and earned the highest GPA in her class to boot. Her favorite professor, she says, was Mr. Steven Carey, associate professor of biology. “He really inspired me to follow my interests. I didn’t end up pursuing geology as a career, but what I did learn is that you have to navigate your career choices by the things that really bring fire to your belly,” she says. And what brought fire to her belly? “The research stuff.” She continued her studies in psychology by pursuing a PhD from Auburn University where she studied experimental analysis of behavior with an emphasis in organizational behavior management. Within six years post-doctorate, she landed a job at Google, where she served nearly five years as manager of learning and organizational development. Near the end of her tenure there, she was so impacted by its world-renowned work environment (think free candy, casual dress, flexible

light on opportunities available in any career path to impact the world for Christ. The Driving Force University of Mobile’s “greatest level of responsibility,” according to president Timothy L. Smith, is to “mentor the student... to serve Christ in

hours) that she wrote a book about it! The Work Revolution: Freedom and Excellence for All was published in 2012, with the goal of equipping leaders to apply Google’s principles to their organization – regardless of size. It isn’t just about “free food,” she says. It’s about leading in a way that frees, empowers, and trusts employees. “I am passionate about helping people find the work that is aligned with their strengths, potential and ability to have an impact in the world. I feel very strongly that people should find work that they love – and that it is possible!” Now, she serves as senior vice president of people development where she gets to free, empower, and trust employees all over the world – at a little company called Chanel. Interested in learning more about this distinguished alumna? Julie will be speaking at two events in April: • Torch Society Scholarship Celebration Dinner, April 5, 6 p.m., Ram Hall (RSVP at torchsocietyevents) • Business Breakdown/School of Business, April 5, 11 a.m., Ram Hall

a unique way.” This responsibility is the driving force of this great institution. It informs every aspect of its culture – from the first day to the last, the days off, and the days to come. It is why University of Mobile is distinctively driven by the priorities of glorifying God and serving people.

BE DRIVEN Higher Education for a Higher Purpose

At University of Mobile, we believe there is more to college than earning a degree.

We are Distinctively-Driven to help you discover God’s purpose for your life.

Support your dreams Challenge your mind Build your faith

We believe in Higher Education for a Higher Purpose


1.800.WIN.RAMS • 251.442.2222 5735 COLLEGE PARKWAY | MOBILE, AL • 36613




ne of my favorite parts about my job is hearing YOUR stories and seeing how UM alumni are impacting the world for Christ. Just today I met with John Blackwell ’01 who serves as head pastor of Restoration Church in Citronelle, Alabama, but also spends his time developing professional and ethical K-12 student leaders through Seymour, a broadcasting training program. Many of you, like John, actively advance the gospel in your daily work, and many more further Christ’s love in your churches, communities and through volunteer efforts. The impact of UM alumni for Christ is incalculable, but undeniably impactful. We are honored to have partnered with Seymour as the title sponsor for the 2018 University of Mobile Scholarship Banquet featuring Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on Feb. 27, 2018. While the Scholarship Banquet is the university’s premier community event, its main purpose is to raise scholarship funds for UM students – tomorrow’s leaders who will stand for Christ. Thank you to each of you who have stayed engaged with the university, whom we proudly showcase to current students as models for who and what they can become. I invite you to share your story with us; simply fill out a short form at Sincerely, Lauren McCaghren Senior Director for Alumni Programs and Annual Giving



Homecoming & Ram Run By Lauren McCaghren A cold and rainy Homecoming Weekend couldn’t deter participants in the 2017 Ram Run 5K and Fun Run. Runners and walkers alike bundled up and showed up on Saturday, Oct. 28, to compete in the annual event that raises money for the university’s Annual Fund and departments across campus. Participants ranged in age from 6-65 and, with help from University of Mobile cheerleaders and enthusiastic students and family, were cheered across the finish line. Alabama School of the Arts won the department participation award, while Claire Travis won the 5K Female Overall at 24:57 and Alex Guillory took home the Male Overall at 18:38. Award winners were presented with a ram trophy and medals, while all participants were treated to food and a custom athletic shirt. If you are interested in sponsoring or participating in the 2018 Ram Run and Homecoming Weekend (dates to be announced), please contact the Advancement Office at 251.442.2226 or Photos by Dan Anderson 49 49



Jerry Smith ’67 is a software developer for Wells Fargo in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is married to Mary Smith and together they have seven grandchildren.

Management Solutions in the Gulf Coast region. Kourtney Campbell Verde ’08 has joined Church Unlimited in Corpus Christi, Texas, as worship pastor.



Gene Force ’76 is a missionary with World Wide Christian Ministries based in Costa Rica. Teddy Ward ’77 is celebrating 50 years of preaching March 4, 2018. He started preaching at the age of 14 and pastored his first church at the age of 18. He is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Abbeville, Alabama. He is married to Charlotte Vinson Ward. They have three sons, three daughters-in-law and five grandchildren.


Charles “Rick” Montoya ’92 is serving in Germany as deputy command chaplain for headquarters, U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa. He is endorsed by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.


Christa Webb Blaire ’00 works at Fibreworks in Louisville, Kentucky, where she lives with her husband, Chris. Docia Miskov ’01 has been hired as show producer at Gulf Coast Mardi Gras Expo in Mobile. Kris Nelson ’01 has joined Dayspring Baptist Church in Mobile as lead pastor of operations. Sharon Brooke Robson ’06 was named business development manager at Ryder Systems – Fleet


Megan Brazel ’10 recently left the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a seasonal ranger to go on a new adventure as a permanent park ranger in Haleakala National Park in Hawaii. Her duty station is a dormant volcano that is over 10,000 feet high. Josh Hembree ’12 received his Juris Doctor degree from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in May 2015. After practicing law for two years as an associate attorney at Sasser & O’Rear LLC in Montgomery, Alabama, he is now director of operations at his family’s third-generation business in Mobile, Don Hembree Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. George Kamel ’12 has been named host of The Dave Ramsey Show Video Channel and live events emcee at Ramsey Solutions. Grace Phillips Willis ’12 was named salon and spa manager at Belk of Riverchase Galleria and The Summit in Birmingham, Alabama. Ashley Caples ’13 has joined AltaPointe Health Systems as a children’s therapist in Mobile. Jessica Catlin ’13 graduated from Cumberland School of Law on May 13, 2016, and now works as an assistant district attorney for Mobile County. She is engaged to fellow UM student Lowell Blake Anderson and will be married Nov. 10, 2018. Bryan “Luke” Easley ’13 is a digital creative communications senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton and lives in Prattville, Alabama.

Tyler Crane ’14 is assistant director of student experience at University of Mobile. Christopher Blount ’15 was named clinical research associate at Medpace in Dallas, Texas. Molly Gray ’15 is currently a 3L at the Florida State University College of Law, and working at the State Attorney’s office for the Second Judicial Circuit as a certified legal intern. During the summer of 2016, she studied at the FSU Summer Program of Law at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. During law school, she had the opportunity to participate in many mock trials and be a part of several research projects, including the Florida Criminal Case Notes book. Avel Arcibal ’16 was named director at Chick-fil-A in Clackamas, Oregon. Matthew Gray ’16 is production director of students – Decatur City Church with Northpoint Ministries Inc. Jordan Grissom ’16 has been named a chiropractic assistant for ChiroSouth Sport and Spine, which recently opened in Mobile. Diane Riley ’16 accomplished her Life Insurance Certification for the State of Alabama, and was promoted to senior representative with Primerica Financial Services. She is working toward being division leader. Matthew Smith-Cook ’16 has launched T-Minus Watches, an independent and innovative watch design company. Sidney Gascon ’17 has been hired as a graphic designer for Landshark Promotions in Mobile. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts with a concentration in graphic design. John Hollingsworth ’17 is a business analyst with Employee Fiduciary in Mobile.

Logan Moore ’17 is a compliance analyst with Employee Fiduciary in Mobile. Michelle Swopes ’17 was named assistant women’s basketball coach at Talladega College. Sherry Wallace ’17 is head volleyball coach for the Oak Grove High School girls’ volleyball team in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She and the team were recently featured in the Hattiesburg American.


Seth Brasher ’16 and Katie Compton Brasher ’16 were married on July 30, 2016. They live in Albany, Georgia, where Seth serves as associate worship pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, and Katie is employed at Southwest Georgia OBGYN. Rachel Hartley Hester ’11 married Matthew David Hester in Mobile on March 18, 2017. They live on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi where Matt is an engineering manager and Rachel started a marketing business, iBi Marketing Solutions, and a health business, RH Health & Wellness. Heath Vester ’16 and Hannah Burch Vester ’17 were married on Nov. 17, 2017. They live in Mobile where Heath is web design specialist for University of Mobile and Hannah is assistant clinical research coordinator at Coastal Clinical Research.


Laura Turner ’05 and Aaron Turner welcomed a son, Matthew Aaron Turner. He was born at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, on April 28, 2017. Their family recently moved to Marietta, Georgia, to be part of a Summit church plant. Aaron is executive pastor at Image Church and Laura is a stay-at-home-mom after 12 years of teaching in the public school system. Lawrencine Mason ’10 and Sanders H. Mason III ’12 welcomed their first grandchild, Rayven Isabella Mason, born July 24, 2017, to son Ryan and daughter-in-law Natasha Mason.


Orrin D. Barrett ’78 passed away July 8, 2017.

We want to hear from our Alumni!

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 ____________________________ City__________________________ State________ Zip_______________ Country______________________

Dawn D. Lucas ’98 passed away Sept. 25, 2017, after a courageous battle with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Kenneth Lucas ’91.

Home Phone__________________

Matthew Tyler Magnuson ’14 passed away Oct. 23, 2017.

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5735 College Parkway Mobile, Alabama 36613


Torchlight: Spring 2018  
Torchlight: Spring 2018