Page 1

FALL 2013

Volume 3, Issue 2 1

FALL 2013 Volume 3 Issue 2

President | Dr. Mark Foley Vice President for Institutional Advancement | Mr. Brian Boyle Editor | Lesa Moore Copy Editor | Kathy Dean Graphic Designer | Jay Adcock, Staff Writers | Will Drake, Shannon Mason, Nancy Snodgrass, Trey Taulbee Class Notes | Allison Nelson Photographers | Dan Anderson, G.M. Andrews, John Adams, Marc Dupont, Jubilee Photography, Al Miller, Doug Mitchell, Sally Osborn, Lyle Ratliff, Time Capsule Images, Trey Taulbee Cover Photo | G.M. Andrews Editorial Office University of Mobile Magazine 5735 College Parkway Mobile, Alabama 36613 Phone: 251.442.2210 Fax: 251.442.2512 Email: University of Mobile Magazine is published by the University of Mobile Office of Institutional Advancement, 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 Institutional Advancement, University of Mobile, 5735 College Parkway, Mobile, AL 36613.

2 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013


32 The Domino Project

Making a Beautiful Campus ‘Absolutely Stunning’



42 Send Me!

4 President’s Message

On Mission with Dr. Cecil Taylor

50 The First-Year Experience Freshman Survival in The College Wild

54 The Fountain Head

Flushing Out the Truth About One of UMobile’s Greatest Pranks

60 University of Mobile Honors Program

64 Worth the Sacrifice

6 University News 20 Giving ALUMNI 74 Campus Corner 76 Get Connected 78 Alumni Stories

Bruns Family Ashley Mason Todd Stearns

84 Class Notes 3


By Dr. Mark Foley President, University of Mobile


hange is happening at a dramatic rate all around us, and positioning the University of Mobile for the future in this dynamic environment is an ongoing process. It involves major projects such as the newly completed campus enhancements you will read about in the following pages. Also, it involves looking for new ways to expand our influence to markets we are not currently reaching. To accomplish our strategic mission of being a nationally recognized influence for the culture of Christ by the year 2020, we must expand our influence in every way we can. That reality brought us to studying the changing ways organizations relate to younger generations that are waiting longer to start college, want flexibility, and expect higher education to be delivered to them. The result: we intend to expand our University of Mobile education to a new market. Our goal is to offer quality, online programs by January 2015. It is not unreasonable to aim for having 10,000 students enrolled online by June 2020. These are students whom we would not be able to reach through our traditional on-campus experience – we can’t build residence halls and classroom space quickly enough to expand so rapidly. Even more importantly, these are students who are looking for a different type of Christian higher education experience than the traditional on-campus model. We are entering the online market at a good time. Online education has been refined dramatically during the past 10 years. Currently, we are researching the best approach for our university to expand to online programs that integrate “Learning, Faith & Leadership.” We have worked diligently to become very good at delivering a mentor-based education on our beautiful campus. We will continue to focus on that traditional method of higher education, building on our success and expanding academic and experience-based opportunities for traditional undergraduate and graduate students. Going online will add to our reach, allowing us to expand far beyond geographic boundaries or limitations on the number of dorm rooms available. As we expand, we will keep the reason we do so at the forefront. Ultimately, we aim to graduate students who have the skills, passion and leadership abilities to use their influence for Christ in a changing world. Hold on tight,

4 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

How will you know what college is like?


Earn a $2000* Scholarship by attending one of these events December 6, 2013 | January 31, 2014 | March 21, 2014 You may also schedule a private visit

*A $2000 scholarship is available to new traditional undergraduate students who attend a UMobile Visit Day, apply for admissions, and enroll at UMobile. This scholarship awards $250 per semester for up to 8 consecutive semesters, excluding the summer semester. Only one UMobile Visit Day Scholarship is available per person. #umvisitday

800.WIN.RAMS | 251.442.2222 | 5735 College Parkway • Mobile, Alabama 36613 5


University of Mobile

Ram Rush 2013 Concerts, food, fun and athletic competition make Ram Rush, the University of Mobile’s annual week-long new student orientation, a much-anticipated event for both new and returning students. This year’s Ram Rush included: Meet-n-Greet for new students Ramily Dinner Concert featuring Andrew Ripp and Steve Moakler Choco Late in Java City Lunch Around Town Goodwill Gala Roller Derby ‘80s Skate Party Mexican Fiesta Picnic with the Prez Carnival Rampede Big Man On Campus Worship Concert with Jimmy Needham UM Expo Black-Out Soccer Game Outdoor Movie Dinner on the Run Minglin’ & Mokas Maroon Platoon Tailgate Soccer Games

Photos by Dan Anderson

6 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013 7


U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions Challenges Grads to Lead at Critical Time in Nation’s History U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions challenged University of Mobile graduates to stand for truth, work hard, live responsibly and be leaders in their families, communities and country during his commencement address at the university’s 47th graduation ceremony May 11. Sessions, R-AL, was awarded the honorary Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions approximately 370 students received associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the ceremony at the Mobile Civic Center. Sessions told graduates he has “supreme confidence in your future.” “You all have the mind and the faith to weather the obstacles that face each one of us. And as you work to build this future for yourselves and for your country, I hope you will build it on the foundation of the fundamental ideals that have made this nation so exceptional,” he said. Among those ideals is a Honors Day Convocation commitment to truth, he said. “In a post-modern, post-religious will strengthen America. Each generation world – a world that you may be now in America has been handed from their entering – one of the first casualties is fathers and mothers a legacy of freedom, respect for truth. I feel it every day in justice and opportunity. It is now on your Washington. Our entire constitutional, shoulders to safeguard that birthright, to political and judicial heritage is designed build on it, and to pass it on to the next to discover truth and then to follow it,” generation of sons and daughters.” Sessions said. UMobile President Mark Foley He added, “You were raised right, you reminded graduates “what was said to have been well educated, and you are each of these men and women since ready to lead at this critical time in our they came to the University of Mobile nation’s history.” was, ‘go change the world.’ I am looking Sessions said, “You will need to be forward to seeing how you do that engaged in this battle for truth in the world-changing in the days ahead.” years to come. I don’t see how our Retiring Professor of Christian government can function if current Ministries Dr. Cecil Taylor carried the secular trends lead to a collapse in belief university’s ceremonial mace and led in objective truth.” faculty and graduates into the Civic Sessions told graduates, “By living with Center. Taylor, who has served as dean goodness and decency and honor, you 8 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Photos by Jubilee Photography

Sarah Michele Dye and William Dorminy

of the School of Christian Ministries and founded the University Missions program, gave the benediction. Awards Presented The William K. Weaver Jr. Excellence Award and the Annie Boyd Parker Weaver Excellence Award were presented to the outstanding male and female students selected by vote of the university faculty. Both awards

University of Mobile Names New Art Gallery are presented to graduates who exemplify the mission of the university and selection is based on scholarship, Christian character, leadership and service. Receiving these highest recognitions possible for UMobile seniors were Sara Michele Dye of Huntsville, AL, and William Dorminy of Dothan, AL. Other academic awards were presented during Honors Day Convocation on May 10 at Ram Hall on campus. The Rev. Jerry Boyd of Jasper, AL, received the Shofar Award, which is awarded to an Alabama Baptist State Convention minister for faithful service that may never otherwise be recognized. Boyd was born March 19, 1941 in Jasper, Alabama. He was baptized in July of 1959 and ordained in 1974. He started Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown in December 1976, where he serves as bi-vocational pastor. Throughout the Walker Baptist Association, he is known as a truly humble servant leader with a Christ-like spirit who loves the people he serves unconditionally. Rev. Boyd helped launch the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen, and helped facilitate a tutoring school through a partnership with First Baptist Jasper and a local school in west Jasper. Much of the funding for the church’s various ministries has come directly from his pocket. He works tirelessly for his congregation and community, not only feeding people spiritually, but also feeding and clothing the needy. By his faithful example, he has inspired many other congregations in the county to join him in ministering to those who need it most. m

University of Mobile College of Arts & Sciences Dean Dr. Dwight Steedley said it was easy to select a name for the university’s new art space. He thought of one person who has been a long-time supporter of the Christian university’s art department, as well as a participant in the program. When Associate Professor of Art and Art Department Chair Phil Counselman ’01 independently arrived at the same name, the professors knew they had the right person – Marilyn Foley, wife of UMobile President Dr. Mark Foley. The professors unveiled the new name – the Marilyn Foley Art Gallery – at the gallery’s first reception Sept.19. The new space is Photo by G.M. Andrews located in the newly renovated Ben May Building. The gallery is open to the public Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Exhibits change frequently and include professional artists as well as works by students. Steedley said the school’s Board of Trustees Development Committee approved their naming request, as well as the board chairman. When the paper covering the name was pulled off, Mrs. Foley was visibly surprised. “I feel very honored and appreciated, and undeserving,” she said. “I’ve certainly enjoyed being part of the art program the last few years, and it has been a real privilege to take classes and get to know the students while feeding my interest and desire to get better.”

She works primarily in ceramics at a studio in her home, and paints as well. “Sometimes I’m real brave and say I’m an artist, but (my interest in art) mostly has developed from being an art appreciator. You can learn so many skills from art and, as you work in different mediums, you learn to appreciate it a lot

more as well,” she said. She said having an art gallery on campus “says art is important, and it joins us with the art community throughout the Mobile area.” Art is all around us, she said – sometimes you just have to look with eyes to see it. Having the opportunity to study art in college, whether as a major, minor or elective class, helps students open their eyes to the beauty around them. “I want students to take advantage of this time, this exploring, learning time when they are in school. It’s a life-long interest they can enjoy,” Mrs. Foley said. m 9


Project Serve 2013

‘Shows Gospel of Christ More Than Any Lecture Ever Could’ Ember Langley was looking forward to seeing Harry, a resident of the Mobile L’Arche community where people with intellectual disabilities live, work and share their lives together. The Miss University of Mobile 2013 met Harry a year ago when a team of University of Mobile students participated in Project Serve, the Christian university’s annual campus-wide day of service to the community. But Harry wasn’t there. “Last year at Project Serve I had the time of my life hanging out and dancing with Harry at the L’Arche home,” she posted Sept. 20 on the social media site Instagram, along with a photo of herself and Harry. “I went back to the L’Arche home today for Project Serve 2013 and found out Harry passed away not too long ago from a heart attack. “Today, I had the pleasure of painting at one of the houses Harry lived in,” she wrote. “This is why I love Project Serve. This event truly makes an impact on your life and community.” Ember was among more than 1,100 students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees who moved the classroom to the community for service projects at 63 locations throughout Mobile and Baldwin counties on Sept. 20. Students signed up for service teams from their academic areas, athletic program, student organizations and university support staff offices. Many projects matched students’ majors or talents with opportunities for service. Nursing students packed 425 boxes of food at Prodisee Pantry, which provides a food and health services hub for the community of Spanish Fort, AL. Education students volunteered at various schools, among

10 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Photo by Dan Anderson

them the Regional School for the Deaf and Blind in Mobile where they played with children who clasped hands with their new-found friends on the playground. Art students painted a mural at an elementary school, and Center for Performing Arts students sang at assisted living centers and nursing homes. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences donated school supplies to the USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital schoolroom and visited with patients. School of Christian Ministries students mowed grass, cleaned gutters, and clipped bushes for the elderly in Chickasaw, AL. Athletes worked alongside coaches and UMobile Board of Trustees Chairman Fred Wilson on four homes for Habitat for Humanity. RamCorps brass and percussion group performed, shared

Photo by G.M. Andrews

Photo by Dan Anderson

To Whom It May Concern; I am writing this letter to commend Dr. Foley and the University for implementing a real purposeful way for students to learn what really matters in life. As a Mobile College graduate, 1973, I was trained by the best to become a certified teacher and then school counselor. I had a wonderful foundation. However, what I saw the students learning during the 2013 Project Serve was an invaluable opportunity that taught life lessons that could only be learned through experience. The Widow’s Mite Ministry of First Baptist Wilmer hosted over forty UM students and faculty under the supervision of Dr. Nancy Huff, who just happened to be my dorm rep during my years at Mobile College. She, along with five leaders from our church, worked closely together. These students arrived ready to work in four different locations; two widows’ yards, one retired minister’s yard, and one elderly couple’s yard who just recently became Christians. They, too, are learning what it means to be part of the body of Christ. The students worked diligently and were served lunch by widows from our Widow’s Mite Ministry. These widows, along with the students and faculty, learned an invaluable lesson; how to serve our Lord regardless of my circumstances. I give God the Glory and Honor for this wonderful experience! His presence and guidance was evident throughout the day and prior planning for this dynamic program ! Again I would like to say how much I appreciate Dr. Foley’s stand to involve every able-bodied student and faculty in such a wonderful contribution to our Lord and Savior, Christ! Photo by DanJesus Anderson Dinah Evans Byrd ‘73 Retired School Counselor Mobile County Public Schools 11


testimonies and prayed for youth at Strickland Youth Center in Mobile, resulting in several young men who professed their faith in Jesus Christ. Non-traditional adult students in the Center for Adult Programs worked on

the grounds at a fire station in Prichard, AL, where a UMobile student serves as a fire chief. The event and the accompanying tweeting, posting, hashtagging and social media buzz caught the attention of local news crews and organizations such as Alabama Nonprofits, which tweeted, “It looks like @umobilenews is having a great day of service. Check out

#projectserve13 @ #projectserve to see their great work!” UMobile Student Government Association President Seth Brasher said, “Project Serve means the world to us as students. It is the physical example of our university living out James 2:18 – ‘Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by my deeds.’ Project Serve reminds us and reaffirms that we are a servant-minded, Christian university.”

Photo by Dan Anderson

Photo by G.M. Andrews

12 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Brasher, a senior majoring in worship leadership, added, “To see that our president will cancel classes is one thing. To see our entire faculty working alongside their students, that shows the Gospel of Jesus Christ more than any lecture ever could.” The day began at 7:30 a.m. with a breakfast and rally in front of J.L. Bedsole Library on campus. After a send-off from UMobile President Dr. Mark Foley and a group photo, teams departed to various

locations to serve. “Look into the eyes of the people you are helping,” Foley told the teams, emphasizing that the day was about making personal connections and influencing lives – those of the students as well as people in south Alabama communities. Foley said the university takes a practical, hands-on approach to cultivating life-change in its circle of

influence, through classroom learning and community service alike. “The University of Mobile mission of ‘Changing Lives to Change the World’ isn’t about education alone – it’s about transforming the nation by meeting both spiritual and physical needs of people. Through Project Serve, UMobile impacts thousands of lives by being the hands and feet of the gospel of Christ throughout the community,” Foley said. m

Photo by Dan Anderson

Photo by John Adams

Photo by Lyle Ratliff 13


UMobile Entrepreneurs Named National 2nd Runner Up for Community Outreach The University of Mobile Enactus team, a group of student entrepreneurs in the School of Business, was named 2nd runner up in its division at the Enactus National Exposition in May. Enactus student teams on campuses across the world apply business concepts to develop community outreach projects, transform lives, and shape a better, more sustainable world, according to Amy Taylor, assistant professor of business and economics, UMobile Enactus team sponsor and a Sam Walton Fellow. Taylor said the UMobile team earned the honor of competing at the national level by winning a regional competition in Atlanta in April. This is the second consecutive regional championship the Photo by Marc Dupont UMobile team has won for its entrepreneurial projects. During the national competition May 21-23 in Kansas City, MO, the UMobile Enactus team was named among the top 60 teams of the 535 teams that competed. Teams presented their projects, which were evaluated by business leaders serving as judges who ranked them on how successful they were at using business concepts to improve the quality of life and standard of living for those in need. UMobile Enactus performed over 1,300 hours of service work during the 2012-13 academic year and impacted nearly 18,000 people in the Mobile

14 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

community through projects such as establishing and operating a free Clothing Closet at Dumas Wesley Community Center, conducting business and life-skills workshops for high school students, partnering with Keep Mobile Beautiful to help recycle electronics and raise funds that enabled The Joseph Project – a food pantry at DWCC – to

allows School of Business students to put the business principles they learn in the classroom into action in significant ways that improve their community. Mason, who graduated from UMobile in May with both a bachelor’s degree in business and Master of Business Administration through the school’s 5-year integrated MBA program, said

purchase over 20,000 pounds of food. Ashley Shelton Mason ’13, who served as president of UMobile Enactus during the past two years, said the Enactus National Exposition “is unlike anything I have ever experienced. There are thousands of college students gathered together to present projects that help create more sustainable communities.” The total number of active Enactus students in the nation are 21,232 who accumulated 816,159 student volunteer hours on 5,032 team community projects, Taylor said. Taylor said the Enactus experience

being recognized as second runner up at a national competition was “incredible.” “While this was a great honor, it means more to us that our small team was able to impact the lives of almost 18,000 people in the community,” Mason said. Other UMobile Enactus competition team members are: Weston Mason, vice president; Daniel Robinson, treasurer; Davis Pilot ’13, team leader; Tabitha Umipeg; Michelle Brown; Steffani Gonzalez; Cornelius Turner; Marc Dupont; Billy Musgrove; and Sairon Chhetri ’13. m

University of Mobile Presents Awards to Faculty, Staff at Annual Spring Luncheon The University of Mobile presented awards to faculty and staff to commemorate their dedication and advancement of the institution during the annual Faculty/Staff Spring Luncheon on April 30. UMobile presented the Emma Frances Photos by Kathy Dean Megginson Service Award to Mattie Easter ’80 for her dedication to the University of Mobile and service to the community. Easter is assistant professor of nursing and coordinator of nursing admissions for the School of Nursing. The William Megginson Teaching Award was presented to Debra Chancey ’80 for excellence of teaching inside and outside the classroom. Chancey is instructor in education in the School of Education. The Mitford Ray Megginson Research Award was presented to Dr. Ted Mashburn for published works that enhance his professional field. Mashburn is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of humanities. Photos by Al Miller The University of Mobile also rewarded three faculty members for Voices of Mobile Performs at career advancement, granting tenure to Pentagon, Brooklyn Tabernacle Professor of Music Dr. Alan Wayne Miller, dean of the Center for Performing Arts/ Voices of Mobile, one of more than 22 School of Music and dean of the School ensembles in the University of Mobile of Worship Leadership. Center for Performing Arts/School of The university promoted Dr. Troy L. Music, performed at the Pentagon in Henderson to associate professor of Washington, D.C., and the Brooklyn mathematics in the College of Arts and Tabernacle in New York City during their Sciences and Mrs. Brenda R. Chastain to Florida, from New York to Louisiana. At summer tour. assistant professor of education in the tour’s end, they had traveled over 5,500 Voices performed at the Pentagon School of Education. m miles in seven weeks through nine states, chapel for the Pentagon Prayer Luncheon giving more than 30 concerts including on June 20, hosted by the Pentagon at First Baptist Jacksonville, FL; Green Chaplains Office. They performed at The Acres Baptist in Tyler, TX; and Sherwood Brooklyn Tabernacle on June 23. Baptist in Albany, GA. m From May 12 to July 7, the ensemble performed concerts from Texas to south 15


Musical Missions Changes Lives By Will Drake University of Mobile Assistant Professor of Music Kenn Hughes not only teaches music, he also teaches students how to use their musical gifts on the mission field. He traveled with UMobile students to Jamaica during winter break 2012, and during summer break 2013 he traveled to Brazil to serve again. “My highlight was sharing this experience with these students and watching them develop a love for missions through their giftedness, knowing that it will change their lives forever,” said Hughes. The team of three students and Hughes visited two Brazilian cities, Brasilia and Maceio, from June 21 to July 2. They traveled alongside Metro Big Band, a group of jazz musicians who travel around the world to help Global Missions Project. “I believe I’m opening my heart more to the calling God has placed on my heart to use the talents He has given me to further the Kingdom,” said Megan Ramsey ’13. “The biggest blessing to me was the way I was able to communicate with those sound engineers and being able to see their passion for technical excellence matched my passion.” Sophomore Christopher James from Pensacola, FL and freshman Chris Rowell from Palmer, AK journeyed with the group. James specializes in drums while Rowell plays the tenor saxophone. The mission trip was one of the many opportunities students have through the University of Mobile Center for Performing Arts. m

16 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013 17

Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball Men’s Basketball

Nov. 7 Nov. 11 Nov. 19 Nov. 22 Dec. 20 Jan. 4 Jan. 11 Jan. 18 Jan. 23 Jan. 30 Feb. 6 Feb. 8 Feb. 15 Feb. 22

Life Univ. Xavier Univ. SUNO Southern Poly Tennessee Temple Tougaloo College Auburn-Montgomery Bethel Univ. Loyola Univ. Belhaven Univ. William Carey Spring Hill Martin Methodist Blue Mountain

7:30 7:30 7:30 7:30 TBA 4:00 5:00 4:00 7:30 7:00 7:30 4:00 4:00 4:00

Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball Women’s Basketball

Nov. 11 Nov. 22 Nov. 23 Dec. 20 Dec. 21 Jan. 4 Jan. 11 Jan. 18 Jan. 23 Jan. 30 Feb. 6 Feb. 8 Feb. 15 Feb. 22

Xavier Univ. Southern Poly Brenau Univ. Tennessee Temple Lindsey Wilson Tougaloo College Auburn-Montgomery Bethel Univ. Loyola Univ. Belhaven Univ. William Carey Spring Hill Martin Methodist Blue Mountain

5:30 5:30 2:00 5:30 1:00 2:00 3:00 2:00 5:30 5:30 5:30 5:30 2:00 2:00

NAIA National Championship (Orange Beach, Ala.)


Women’s Soccer Dec. 2-7

18 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Softball Softball Softball Softball Softball Softball Softball Softball Softball Softball

Mar. 4 Mar. 5 Mar. 11 Mar. 25 Apr. 4 Apr. 11 Apr. 12 Apr. 22 Apr. 25 Apr. 26

Blue Mountain Bethel Univ. Central Methodist William Woods Faulkner Univ. Auburn-Montgomery Southern Wesleyan Spring Hill Belhaven Univ. William Carey

4:00 (DH) 4:00 (DH) 4:00 (DH) 4:00 (DH) 4:00 (DH) 3:00 (DH) 1:00 (DH) 4:00 (DH) 3:00 (DH) 2:00 (DH)

Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball Baseball

Jan. 28 Jan. 31 Feb. 1 Feb. 4 Feb. 7 Feb. 8 Feb. 14 Feb. 15 Feb. 18 Feb. 28 Mar. 1 Mar. 5 Mar. 11 Mar. 14 Mar. 15 Mar. 21 Mar. 22 Apr. 11 Apr. 12 Apr. 18 Apr. 19

Spring Hill St. Catherine St. Catherine Concordia-Selma Talladega Talladega Loyola Loyola Auburn-Montgomery Belhaven Belhaven Lyon Spring Hill LSU-Alexandria LSU-Alexandria Blue Mountain Blue Mountain Brewton-Parker Brewton-Parker Martin Methodist Martin Methodist

5:00 2:00 (DH) 12:00 (DH) 2:00 (DH) 4:00 1:00 (DH) 4:00 1:00 (DH) 3:00 6:00 1:00 (DH) 2:00 5:00 6:00 1:00 (DH) 6:00 1:00 (DH) 6:00 1:00 (DH) 6:00 1:00 (DH) 19


A Shared

Vision By Kathy Dean


ommy Northrop had a vision, and he worked hard to make it happen. As CEO with a controlling interest in Barrow Fine Furniture, Tommy built a business that became the largest independently owned furniture store in Alabama. But Tommy had something else that he considered much more important – a relationship with the Lord. That relationship guided Tommy’s business practices, including the decision to close his stores on Sundays so employees and customers could attend worship services. It was the foundation of his heart for mentoring young people; his role as an encourager of pastors at First Baptist Church of Opp, AL; and the wise counsel he provided as a trustee of the University of Mobile. His wife, Pat, said Tommy never acted as if Barrow Fine Furniture was “our business.” “He always, always looked at everything we had as belonging to the Lord,” she said. When Tommy died in 2003 of cancer at the young age of 59, Pat became president of Barrow Fine Furniture. Today, the business her husband and a partner purchased in 1979 is thriving in five locations, as the leading furniture store in the Mobile, Dothan and Pensacola areas with more stores in Andalusia and Flomaton, AL.

20 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

“Sometimes I drive into the parking lot and I say, ‘This is Yours, Lord.’ It takes a lot of pressure off of me, knowing that,” Pat said. The UMobile Connection Now senior pastor of First Baptist Hendersonville, TN, Bruce Chesser ’78 was still in the early years of his ministry when he answered the call to serve as pastor of First Baptist Opp, where the Northrops were members. Bruce found in Tommy a “kind, very generous, very godly man. Tommy had incredible wisdom. Anything I ran into as a young pastor and didn’t know what to do or how to handle, Tommy was my go-to person,” Bruce said. “Tommy was a wonderful, wonderful man. He and Pat became good friends and confidants.” Tommy loved people, he had a passion for business and community involvement, and he invested his life in things that mattered. He served on the Board of Directors of SouthTrust Bank, chairman of the board of the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, and in a variety of capacities at First Baptist Opp, including chairman of the deacons, youth director, and Sunday School teacher for young married, college and career classes. Pat said Tommy “was always a friend of pastors, all of his life. He was an encourager.”

She said the couple quickly grew to consider the Chessers as part of their own family. That personal connection eventually expanded to include the University of Mobile. “Knowing Bruce and his integrity, his character, has been a blessing to us. I know the fact that he had graduated from Mobile College opened the door for us to think about the school,” Pat said. For his part, Bruce knew that whatever Tommy said he would do, he did – and did well. As a member of the university’s Board of Regents, an advisory group of Baptist pastors, Bruce recommended Tommy as a trustee. “When you faced something that was hard to deal with, Tommy would go to war with you,” Bruce said. “When the bullets started flying, he would be there. He wouldn’t turn and run. To have someone involved like that in your alma mater…is very encouraging.” A Passionate Supporter The school’s mission matched that of the Northrops. “Tommy has always had a heart for young people, for encouraging them,” Pat said. “He was director of our youth department for many yeas. He would help them out, write resumes, help them get jobs.” Tommy joined the Mobile College Board of Trustees in 1987, serving

something like that to realize that life is short, and you have a short time to invest in other people’s lives. We felt like it was the right thing to do,” Pat said.

through the school’s name change in 1993 and the hiring of Dr. Mark Foley as the university’s third president in 1998. As chairman of the Board’s Development Committee, he was a passionate advocate for the school – a role he continued to play after his board service ended in 1999. “He loved this university,” said Bill Hart ’79, senior development officer for the University of Mobile. “He wanted to serve on the trustee committee that worked to financially support the school, and he was always looking for opportunities for the university. He fully understood and embraced the duties of caring for and governing the school.” Serving with trustees such as Massey Bedsole, Yetta Samford, and others who held the university in a special place in their hearts “was for me, and for Tommy, a very humbling experience,” Pat said. The Right Thing to Do When Tommy was diagnosed with prostate cancer, among the many things the couple wanted to do was make a lasting investment in the lives of others. It was how they had lived their lives together, and a legacy they wanted to leave. “All the years that he was alive and we were presented with an opportunity to give, whether it was the church or whatever, we would pray about it and we would always be on the same page,” Pat said.

Mr. Tommy Northrop

They knew that Bruce had attended Mobile College with the help of an endowed scholarship. “I went to school on one of those endowed scholarships. I was the recipient of the generosity of someone, and when I went to Opp, I discovered I was the pastor of the man who had provided that,” Bruce said. From Bruce’s experience, the Northrops knew first-hand how an endowed scholarship blessed not only the students who received it, but also the people those students would one day impact through their careers and lives. “When I think of Bruce, I think of the joy of the Lord,” Pat said. The couple established The John and Patricia Northrop Endowed Scholarship. They directed proceeds earned from the invested funds be given to fulltime students studying for a career in Christian ministries or business and who express through their lives a commitment to Christian values and morals. Priority is given to students from the Northrops’ hometown area of Covington County, AL. “Once Tommy was diagnosed with prostate cancer, sometimes it takes

A Lasting Influence Today, Pat continues to add to the couple’s endowed scholarship fund. As it grows, so do the opportunities to provide scholarships. “We shared some of the same feelings about the University of Mobile. I just loved him so much, I just knew it was what he would want me to do. It was a shared vision for us,” Pat said. Carrying on that shared vision gives her a special feeling. “It’s a satisfaction knowing that it’s something that will help someone else – helping someone who might not otherwise have an opportunity to go – knowing without a doubt that their lives are going to be influenced by going to the University of Mobile,” she said. She has seen the kind of influence the college has had in the lives of many – from former pastor Bruce Chesser who received an endowed scholarship from a donor in their community, to students from her community who have received a Northrop scholarship. “Many of them were strong Christians before they went to college, and they chose this school to help their lives make a difference,” she said. Bruce said the couple has made a difference in many lives, including his own. “If you could have a church filled with Tommy and Pat Northrops, you could impact a city, a state and a nation in short order,” Bruce said. “They are the cream of the crop.” For information on how to start or add to an existing endowed scholarship, call the Development Office at 251.442.2223 or email m 21

2013 faithfulgiving

Endowed Scholarship Luncheon

The 2013 University of Mobile Endowed Scholarship Luncheon was held Thursday, October 3 in Ram Hall on the UMobile campus. Thank you again to all who have been a part of creating an endowed scholarship. You truly make a positive difference in the lives of our students. For more information about creating or adding to an endowed scholarship, visit or call 251.442.2223. m

Photos by Trey Taulbee

22 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013 23


By Nancy Snodgrass


or the second year, Lakewood Golf Club in Point Clear hosted the University of Mobile Golf Classic. The 16th annual tournament was held May 17 with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Nineteen teams made up of alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the university played in this year’s event. Players on the winning team were Matt Drinkard, Brett Marler, Dennis McLaughlin and Kenny Smith with a score of 54. “We had a wonderful day on the golf course,” said Hali Givens, director of development for special projects. “The UMobile Golf Classic is a great way to support the university, meet up with old friends and make new ones. We are always excited to have new individuals and teams join us for this fun event.” Lunch was served following the tournament where winners were announced and door prizes were awarded. Players also enjoyed music by Trey Taulbee ’08.

This year’s tournament was held in honor of Dr. Terry Hopper for his years of service to the university. Hopper joined the University of Mobile in 1970 teaching in the Physical Education Department. He headed intramural sports and, in 1984, was named head coach of the athletic program’s first sport, men’s golf. He led the men’s golf team to an NAIA national championship in 1997 and the women’s in 1998. Hopper was named Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Coach of the Year 18 times and was inducted into the Mobile Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. Hopper retired from teaching full-time in 2006, but continued coaching golf at UMobile until 2012. Plan now to join us in 2014 for the 17th annual UMobile Golf Classic. You will enjoy a great day on the greens while supporting the university. Proceeds from the tournament go toward the UMobile fund which helps support student scholarships. For more information, call the Development Office at 251.442.2497. m

Photos by Dan Anderson

24 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

m 25


Mr. Curtis Brewer and Mrs. Joyce Fisher Photo by Sally Osborn, Yellow Wood Photography

26 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

God Did It “This is the story of God working through people to accomplish His end.” Dr. Mark Foley

By Kathy Dean


t was Thursday. The meeting in the Weaver Hall office of University of Mobile President Dr. Mark Foley had just wrapped up with approval of a design plan to turn a large classroom space in Martin Hall into a top-notch professional recording studio. But there was a catch. The price tag for renovations and professional recording equipment was $650,000. The money wasn’t in the budget, and the funding would need to come from outside the university’s resources. The scenario could have been discouraging – if not for a generous lady from Odessa, TX who loves the Lord – and His music. This is much more than a story about how the University of Mobile will open the Joyce Fisher-Curtis Brewer Recording Studio in January 2014, in time for spring semester. It is the story of how God was at work in the lives of four people and a university over the course of years. Joyce Fisher: A Love Story Joyce Fisher tells a story about her late husband, Mike. At the time, the couple was attending a small church. “Poor Mike, he couldn’t sing anything,” Fisher said with a smile in her voice. “I told the pastor I wasPhoto getting concerned, by G.M. Andrews

that we didn’t have enough people to drown Mike out. Mike sang anyway, and he loved it.” Later, they joined First Baptist Church of Odessa, TX, the “friendliest large church you will ever enter,” as Fisher describes it. The couple was impressed with the commitment and talent of Curtis Brewer, associate pastor of worship and celebration. They wanted to be part of the program in a special way. “It started with my late husband, who felt the need to support the music ministry because he just loved it,” Fisher said. After Mike’s death in 2008, she continued to financially and prayerfully support the growth of the music program. Music is an important part of worship, she said. “I feel like the music prepares you for the sermon. If you have a beautiful song, it influences the whole congregation and it influences everybody’s week. It’s the biggest part of the worship service to me. I get a lot out of the sermon, but the music really carries me through,” she said. As a member of the congregation, Fisher said she is blessed to enjoy the fruits of the labor of choir members and worship leaders. With her support, the FBC Odessa choir and orchestra just

completed their third national release with Prism Music in Nashville. “I enjoy seeing the music ministry grow. Curtis had great ideas of things he had always wanted to do. When he presented them to me, I couldn’t help but support them – they were just wonderful ideas. That was how I came about doing this project with the University of Mobile. I have always trusted his judgment to do great things,” she said. Curtis Brewer: Preparing Hearts and Minds For 31 years, Curtis Brewer has shared the gospel of Jesus Christ through the music ministry of FBC Odessa. A native of Mississippi, he previously served as a minister of music in Montgomery, AL. He has led worship for many regional and national Southern Baptist Convention conferences, including evangelism conferences in Texas and New Mexico, pastor’s conferences and crusades in Texas and Mississippi, and music week at Glorieta, NM and Ridgecrest, NC. He was at the 2011 Metro Music Conference, a national gathering of worship pastors, held that year at The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, AL when he heard a performance by VOICES of Mobile, one of the university’s 27


“Every university will provide you with a diploma – that’s not a problem if you do the work. But there are few universities that will equip you to be successful in life. That’s what the University of Mobile is doing.” Curtis Brewer

flagship performing and traveling vocal ensembles. The group, produced by Roger Breland, has sung at the White House and the Pentagon, performed from Hawaii to Alaska, and sung internationally in countries including Israel. “My first thought was that my church had to hear them – and I knew it couldn’t happen without Joyce Fisher,” Brewer said. “Joyce is one in a million. Her generosity not only to her church and community, but also to organizations she supports in town, is wonderful. She has got one of the most gracious hearts in the world you’ll ever find.” Fisher provided the financial support for VOICES to travel to Texas, and several of the students visited in her home. She was impressed not only with the musical excellence of the group, but also by the outstanding caliber of the individual students. “I could not believe the talent! How does one university get that much talent? It was just amazing!” Fisher said. So began a relationship between the UMobile Center for Performing Arts and FBC Odessa, made possible through Joyce’s generosity and support. One indication of the depth of the relationship is that VOICES will

28 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

be present in 2014 to help the church dedicate its new worship center. Today, Brewer serves on the Deans’ Council, an advisory board for the Center for Performing Arts. His insight into the quality of the program is one he readily shares with worship leaders throughout the Southern Baptist Convention and beyond. “Every university will provide you with a diploma – that’s not a problem if you do the work. But there are few universities that will equip you to be successful in life. That’s what the University of Mobile is doing. When people are looking for worship pastors or someone to lead in their church, I immediately refer them to the University of Mobile,” Brewer said. He praised Breland and the lead role he has played in the music program. “Roger is a legend in his own time, and he has touched and impacted the lives of countless numbers of worship pastors and church leaders. He has his handprint on thousands of adults and has spent a lifetime making an impact. To call him my friend is overwhelming. To see what his dream is for the university is inspiring,” Brewer said. The Next Step When he joined the UMobile faculty in 2003, Breland had a vision for the university’s music program – one that emphasized providing students with hands-on experiences to put the lessons learned in the classroom into practice in professional settings. The combination was designed to

make UMobile graduates top recruits in the music and recording industry, churches and worship leadership arenas, music education, and vocal and instrumental performance. Now, the Center for Performing Arts/ School of Music and School of Worship Leadership is home to 22 performing ensembles that travel the world. The annual Christmas Spectacular, the largest Christmas concert along the Gulf Coast from Pensacola, FL to Biloxi, MS is a “must see” multi-night live event for audiences totaling more than 9,000. In 2012 the concert was broadcast multiple times internationally through three satellite television channels, a practice that will continue this year. Also in 2012, the event gained national exposure when a clip from the performance was featured on multiple Fox News Channel national news shows. Graduates were being offered positions at some of the largest churches in the nation, were launching performing careers touring nationally, and were highly sought after as music educators. A recording studio was the next step. The University of Mobile committed space on the second floor of Martin Hall for the studio, a crucial part of the music program’s expansion and launch of its own record label, 8Eighty Records. The university’s move into the recording label business is part of the expansion of the School of Worship Leadership, where students may concentrate in areas such as music business, technology, film and theatre, and church ministry. The program aims

University Launches 8Eighty Records

to train worship pastors, media directors, studio musicians and engineers, film and stage performers, recording artists and songwriters. It also is aimed at providing opportunities to develop students beyond graduation, with opportunities to record and publish original works. A Magnificent Gift Some months earlier, Breland had introduced the idea of an endowed chair in the Center for Performing Arts to his friend, Curtis Brewer. Brewer said he told God, “If You want this to happen, place it on Joyce’s heart.’” She liked the idea. She was moving forward with a major donation to the music program when the university’s desire for the recording studio was brought to her attention. She agreed to give $650,000 to create the Joyce Fisher-Curtis Brewer Recording Studio, with $100,000 creating the Curtis Brewer Chair to help fund a music professor. “I hope it trains and prepares the talent that you have there,” Fisher said. “I hope it prepares them to go out and lead a great church with great music. Nobody gets any bigger blessing out of this than I do. It’s a big part of my life. I feel like it’s my ministry.” Brewer said he is excited about opportunities students will have through the Fisher-Brewer Recording Studio. “To think of the countless numbers of young adults who will be trained in there, of the University of Mobile students who will have an opportunity to go to a first-class studio and record

their God-anointed song and put it on YouTube and make an immediate impact, is mind-boggling,” he said. “I’m pretty much overwhelmed by it. If it were not for Joyce’s graciousness and Roger’s dream, it wouldn’t be happening.” ‘God Did It’ Foley said the gift is clear evidence of God at work. “There is no way that any of this would have happened without Joyce Fisher, whom God has blessed in marvelous ways. It wouldn’t have happened without Curtis Brewer and his tremendous encouragement to Roger and Joyce. It wouldn’t have happened without Roger and what he’s done over the last 11 years in the Center for Performing Arts. “It wouldn’t have happened without our talented students and our leadership team on campus looking for ways to expand for the School of Music. Audrey Eubanks, our vice president for academic affairs, envisioned rearrangement of space usage. Steve Lee, our vice president for business affairs, figured out a funding plan to make several other major projects happen that cleared the space. “All of these pieces – God brought together,” Foley said. Fisher said the entire experience “really kind of amazes me.” “We were at lunch one day and all four of us were talking about how it came about. It hit all of us at one time. We didn’t do any of this. God did it,” Fisher said.m

The University of Mobile launched its new record label, 8Eighty Records, in August. The name, 8Eighty Records, was proposed by a UMobile student who noted that the university campus encompassed 880 acres in north Mobile County, AL. The first release, a live worship album recorded during the university’s True Spin weekly Bible study and worship gathering in Ram Hall, featured four original songs written by UMobile students, with a total of eight songs performed by students and graduates. “Our God is Faithful: Live Worship from the University of Mobile” was released Aug. 19 and is available through iTunes, and through the 8Eighty website at The publishing arm of the label, University of Mobile Publishing, is developing a catalog of original songs written by students and alumni. A subsequent solo project titled “Coming Alive” from UMobile alumnus Chris Lockwood ’05, was released under the 8Eighty Records label. New products are being added to the website, including downloads from Impact, VOICES of Mobile, Exit 13 and Blake Walker. The label has already signed three singer-songwriters whose songs are featured on “Our God is Faithful.” When the Fisher-Brewer Recording Studio is opened in January 2014, UMobile students will record and learn in one of the finest recording studios in the country. “Our mission is to impact the church with worship and songs of faith through God’s unique gifts and abilities of the student body and alumni from the University of Mobile,” said Jeff Quimby, 8Eighty Records general manager and director of A&R (artists and repertoire). UMobile Artist-in-Residence Jason Breland, executive director of 8Eighty Records, said, “Our purpose is to proclaim the wonders of God through concert, performance presentation, publishing, recording, radio, television and internet communication.” 29


30 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

A New Development

GIVING Made Easier By Lesa Moore


odern design, easier navigation, userfriendly online forms, and more in-depth information on giving options are just a few of the features of the newly introduced University of Mobile giving website. The new website is designed to provide the ultimate user-friendly experience with improved navigation and functionality. The site includes extensive information on planned giving opportunities, corporate partnerships, events and the UMobile Fund. It is designed to give UMobile alumni and friends a greater understanding of the complete range of possibilities that help make a significant difference in the lives of students and the overall mission of the university. The initial design of the site was handled by University of Mobile alumnus Ben Finch ‘02 with the overall development and implementation completed by nvisionative. “Few places in the world do I hold as dear as the University of Mobile,” said Finch, owner of Finch Photo located in east Tennessee. “My life was drastically changed by the time spent at UM and it was a tremendous pleasure to give back by designing the new giving website. My inspiration

for the design is that it would be a portal for alumni and friends of the university to stay up-to-date with UM’s happenings as well as serve as a gateway to invest back into a school that has invested so much.” Donations may be made to the University of Mobile through direct gifts online, by phone or by mail, by attending and sponsoring fund-raising events, through charitable gift planning, stock transfers and matching gift programs, to name a few. Newly added to the University of Mobile giving website is the option to set up monthly or annual automatic deductions from a credit card or bank account. “We value the amazing support received from alumni and friends of the university through the giving of their time, talents and financial resources,” said Brian Boyle ‘94, vice president for institutional advancement. “Our goal with this new website is to provide a positive online experience with added levels of convenience to connect with the university on all levels. We hope that this will be a great source of information for our donors that they will continue to share with others along the way.” The University of Mobile’s giving website may be accessed at m 31

32 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

The Domino Project

By Kathy Dean Photos by G.M. Andrews 33

There was a traffic jam on campus.


he main entrance drive was clogged with backhoes, 18-wheelers loaded with sod, and construction crews swarming across the road as summer rains poured down. It was the storm before the calm as workers rushed to finish major pieces of the University of Mobile’s $7 million Campus Enhancement Project – the most far-reaching campus-wide improvement of buildings and grounds since the 1970s. The result is “absolutely stunning.” The complexity of the project required that most improvements be accomplished during the summer months when many students and faculty were on break. Entire academic departments were moved from one area of the

34 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

“I love the bridges because they add such a quaint feeling to the university.�

Stephanie Hulon, assistant professor of education 35

university to another to accommodate growing and changing programs. Projects ranged from lighting the baseball field to replacing the original windows in the university’s first building, Weaver Hall. “We began calling it ‘the domino project’ because of the major logistical planning as one building came offline to be renovated and offices were moved to another building that had just been renovated,” said UMobile President Mark Foley. When Ram Rush 2013 kicked off in August, the majority of the campus enhancement projects were complete. Remaining projects are expected to be finished in time for spring semester 2014. Save the Oaks The most visible project is also perhaps the most impressive. Drive past the gatehouse onto PollockAltmayer Drive, the main entrance to campus, and the view is breathtaking. Lamppost-style lighting, sidewalks, bridges, benches, lush green sod and majestic oak trees line both sides of the road, framing a view of the flag plaza and Weaver Hall. 36 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

“One of my students shared a great comment that sums up how many of us feel about that gorgeous entrance,” said Dr. Sue Gober, professor of education and chair of the Department of Elementary/Secondary Education. “She was telling me why she transferred to UMobile. She said she brought her son to soccer camp this summer and it was her first time to come on campus and, I quote, ‘Every time I drove through that gate, I felt a peace and thought…this must be a special place.’” Foley said, “We knew we needed to have a first impression that was absolutely stunning, that communicates quality, safety and security to students and all who enter

our campus.” The effect has been several years in the making, with the addition in recent years of metal fencing and gates donated by Board trustee Jim Daniel and his wife, Helen. Also added were a brick gatehouse and security system. But beautification alone wasn’t the impetus for the project. Erosion, past hurricane damage, and age was endangering the oaks donated in 1969 by prominent Mobile physician Dr. Samuel Eichold and his wife, Charlotte, in honor of his parents, Bernard H. and Myra Eichold. Their family name derived from German, “Eichold,” means “sturdy oak,” but the Eichold Oaks were in precarious shape.

“I still remember the first time I saw our campus. I was coming for a Preview Day while I was in high school and was awestruck at how beautiful Weaver Hall looked with the flags in front of it and the sun shining behind it. Now with all of the improvements, it has only gotten more beautiful.”

Ashley Caples ’13 37

“Along with (baseball coach) Mike Jacobs and (vice president for business affairs) Steve Lee, I have dreamed about lights on the baseball field from the day I started this job. As stunning as the rest is, that is my favorite because it accomplishes a long-time objective.� Dr. Mark Foley, president

38 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Classroom in Ben May Building

“We had an asset in danger, and the university wanted to ensure these beautiful trees will be here for future generations,” said Steve Lee, vice president for business affairs, who oversees the fiscal and physical plant operations of the 880-acre campus. Lee said an inventory was made of the total 115 large oaks on campus, 43 of which line the entrance drive. Vicki Burgin, director of institutional operations, and Kim Browder, director of physical plant services for National Management Resources at UMobile, said the scope of the

project was driven by the university’s commitment to save the oaks. Pruning and deep root fertilization are bringing the oaks back, and cables installed high in the branches strengthen the trees and will help keep the canopy high enough so vehicles may pass on the drive underneath. A retaining wall was installed and dirt backfilled to reduce the slope caused by erosion. Then a walkway and sod were installed along both sides of the drive, benches placed at scenic spots and lampposts replaced the original 1963 lighting.

Project Overview Some of the changes on campus are immediately visible, and others are more subtle but no less significant. The original windows in Weaver Hall were replaced with tinted, energy-efficient windows that will reduce heating and air-conditioning costs, and update the university’s first building. Also, Rooms 303 and 305 were renovated into one large classroom housing the physics lab. The existing art studios in Martin Hall were converted for use by the Center for Performing Arts/School 39

“We understand the importance of taking good care of that which we have inherited from those who have gone before us. “ Dr. Mark Foley, president

40 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Art studio in M.C. Farmer Building

of Music and School of Worship Leadership. The old 2-D lab is now a technology classroom and rehearsal space, while the old 3-D studio functions as rehearsal and classroom space for film and theatre students. School of Christian Ministries faculty have moved into first-floor offices in Martin Hall once occupied by the College of Arts and Sciences. The Ben May Building – that once housed the campus bookstore, fitness center, and Ram Deli – now is home to the College of Arts & Sciences with five classrooms and 10 faculty offices. Additionally, Farmer Building and Garner Building had an interior facelift to match the new look of the May Building, while also receiving an HVAC upgrade. Farmer houses the 2-D & 3-D art studios, formerly in Martin Hall, while Garner houses the English department. Last year, the first floor of J.L. Bedsole Library was renovated to function as a student center, housing Java City coffee shop and the campus bookstore. The second phase of this project is underway, expanding the first floor of the former library space to include a new grill and fitness facility. A patio will be added at the back of the building to complement those at the front of the library and

beside Ram Hall. The swimming pool was resurfaced and new rubber decking was added, along with a restroom and shower facility. Night baseball games at Jacobs Field are now possible with the addition of outdoor lighting and a state-of-the-art scoreboard. The baseball locker room has also been completed, with a paved drive and erosion control underway. Last year, irrigation and new landscaping was added to the Ram statue island area, as well as an LED sign for current events and announcements. Good Stewards The driving force behind the campus enhancement project was a focus on faithful stewardship. “We understand the importance of taking good care of that which we have inherited from those who have gone before us. Our emphasis throughout the Campus Enhancement Project was on using our financial and physical resources in the most effective ways possible to make the most impact as we fulfill the vision of those early founders of Mobile College,” Foley said. The idea for the extensive fruitbasket-turnover began when he asked his key leadership team how to create space to house the growing music program, which was bursting at the seams. “Dr. Audrey Eubanks (vice president for academic affairs) came back and said, ‘I think we can move the library to the second floor and still expand library services. What can we do with the first floor?’” Foley recalled. “That started the dream.”m 41

By Kathy Dean By Kathy Dean

Photo by Dan Anderson

42 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013 43

“What it does for those who go is teach us to see the world with new eyes. It enlarges your vision of the Great Commission and your personal responsibility. You can’t ever come home again and just sit on your front porch and rock.” Cecil Taylor


s a child, Cecil Taylor made a decision that would eventually affect the lives of thousands across the world. “In my heart and life, as a child, I surrendered to missions if the Lord wanted to send me,” he recalled. “I’ve come to think the Lord planted me here at the University of Mobile so I could plant missions here.” Tilling. Planting. Weeding. Feeding. Growing. It is not hard work for a man who has invested much of his life in teaching college students to use their intellect and passion to reach all nations for Jesus Christ. It is simply being obedient to the Lord. His June 30 retirement marked the end of one chapter of service and the opening of new mission fields for the theology professor, former School of Christian Studies dean, and founder/ director of the University Missions program. Cecil and wife Reeda, who graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, will use their talents to serve God based out of their new home near family in Marshall, TX. But what is past is not ended. Rather, 24 years of teaching, preaching, mentoring, challenging, inspiring, sharpening, and preparing college students to be obedient to God’s calling in their own lives is just the beginning. It’s easy to see how one person can change the world when you are changing lives. In the Beginning Taylor’s mission was clear from the moment then-president Dr. Michael Magnoli ‘67 interviewed him in 1989 for the post of dean of the School of 44 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Religion. Previously, he had served as a pastor for 26 years in churches across Texas, Louisiana, Kansas and Missouri. Taylor said Magnoli asked him, “Can you give me a religion department that pastors in churches in Alabama can trust?” “Dr. T,” as students would come to call him, said he would. Building on the department’s foundation, he aimed to increase the academic rigor and inspire a passion for missions, instilling in students a desire to bring the nations to Christ. “One of the things I set out to do was build a program here that involved rigorous academics. The

early Christians not only out-loved and out-died (their persecutors), they out-thought them. They won the intellectual battle,” he said. Taylor assembled a faculty intent on operating academically on a seminary level. But knowledge alone wasn’t the goal. “We wanted to develop a keen mind and a hot heart. It’s been said, ‘Would you rather have a fool on fire or a scholar on ice?’ Neither,” he said. “We want a scholar on fire.” Igniting that fire was the new University Missions program that provided opportunities for students to put their classroom learning to the test in the field. International

Photo by Cecil Taylor

mission trips led by the university’s religion professors would not only give students academic credit for field experience – it would open their eyes to a lost world in need of salvation. The combination worked. Taylor led the first team of five students to Esmaraldas, Brazil in the summer of 1992 to help build a chapel. Since then, University Missions has raised funds and sent teams to build 21 chapels for Baptist mission congregations in Brazil “from foundation to finish.” The 2013 University Missions Report tells a cumulative “by-thenumbers” story of influence. From 1992 to 2013, University Missions has:

• Formed, trained and sent 132 teams •Totaling 1,624 people •To 49 nations •Raising more than $4.4 million including team expenses, construction funds, building supplies and gifts-in-kind •Recording 13,143 first-time professions of faith, plus many others uncounted •Creating an experience that led more than a dozen churches and associations in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to begin their own missions programs •And planting a heart for missions in too many people to number.

Behind each of these numbers is a story. Billy Parchman ’05 recalled how his first University Missions trip to Berlin showed him the importance of sharing the Gospel to all nations. “While serving there, God blessed me by allowing me to help lead a Muslim man to Christ. Throughout my time at Mobile, I was able to serve in Germany, Japan and Ireland. During each trip, I learned something new about God’s love and grace,” Parchman said. Now guest services manager at Embassy Suites in Louisville, KY, Parchman said he has had opportunities to serve overseas alongside his wife in India, Peru and Ecuador, using skills he developed on trips with Taylor. “His example overseas, in the classroom, and in everyday life gave me a picture of Christ’s love. When I look back at who the Lord used in my life to grow me closer to Him, Dr. T is at the top of my list,” Parchman said. Taylor opened the University Missions program to churches and individuals outside the school. The practice expanded opportunities for international missions to church groups and individuals, many of whom were inspired to start mission programs or begin a life-long personal commitment to supporting missions. It also led to partnerships and connections between the university and congregations throughout the region. “What it does for those who go is teach us to see the world with new eyes,” Taylor said. “It enlarges your vision of the Great Commission and your personal responsibility. You can’t ever come home again and just sit on your front porch and rock.” Dr. Doug Wilson, dean of the School 45

I share with students – Beatitudes, you might say,” Taylor said. • “Blessed is the man who knows what things in life are truly sacred – then nothing else needs to be taken seriously. • “Blessed is the man who has learned to laugh at himself, for he shall have no end of amusement.”

Retirement Reception Photos by Al Miller

of Christian Ministries, said due to the transitional nature of ministry, and sometimes for security reasons, the university doesn’t have accurate statistics for the number of career missionaries, journeymen, hands-on mission volunteers, mission team leaders, as well as pastors, church planters and ministry staff members who have been impacted by Taylor’s ministry at UMobile. “Only eternity will tell how many students he touched to answer God’s call to missions and ministry,” Wilson said. 46 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

For his part, Taylor said he is “gratified that, over the years, pastors in the state have vigorously trusted” in the university’s theology program. “We assembled a faculty that trusts scripture. We may not all agree on what a particular passage of scripture means, but we all agree that it is God’s word,” he said. Blessed Laughter Any conversation with Cecil Taylor will always include one important ingredient – laughter. “There are two pieces of philosophy

“I’ve laughed my way through life,” he said, and appreciates a good joke at his own expense. K. J. Pugh ’04, associate pastor of education and missions at Open Door Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, AL, even mentioned that laugh in the dedication of one of the books he wrote in his Query the Text Series available through Amazon. The dedication page for “3 John for Small Groups” reads: Dedicated to Dr. Cecil Taylor, Whose voice (and laugh) have echoed through the corridors of the University of Mobile for many years, making their indelible impact on the lives of many students. I am blessed to be one of them. When asked about the impact Taylor had on his life, Pugh added, “Dr. Taylor made me a more generous Christian. He modeled uncompromising commitment to all things essential, while also showing charity, salted with humor, in all things non-essential.” Dr. Jason Lee ’91, the new dean of the School of Biblical and Ministry Studies at Cedarville University in Ohio, said Taylor “influenced me at an early age to wed an academic study of the Bible with a heart for ministry.”

Lee, who went on to earn a Master of Divinity at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, said Taylor led University Missions teams to help in outreach ministries at Stonehaven Baptist Church near Aberdeen, where Lee served as pastor while pursuing his doctorate. “During those weeks, we led Backyard Bible clubs off-site, held a Vacation Bible School, participated in street witnessing, led Christian coffee house gatherings for Scottish teens and helped conduct a youth camp,” Lee said. “He and Reeda were as active as any of the college students in sharing the love of Christ with the Scottish children and teenagers.” Lee added, “Nobody gets far in life without the investment and encouragement of a few significant people in his or her life. Much of who I am and where I am are a result of Cecil Taylor’s academic and pastoral investment in me. I am grateful to the Lord for him.” Taylor’s position as dean, his strong voice, and his penchant for furrowing his brow and asking, “What makes you say that?” when a student would present an opinion or idea the professor was curious about, sometimes intimidated students, Taylor learned. That perception bothered him so much, he figured the only thing to do was eliminate the question from his conversation, since there wasn’t much he could do about his position as dean or his voice. “Students who went on mission trips would come back announcing to the world there was nothing to be intimidated about. I’m a softie,” he said.

Photo by Dan Anderson

A Ministry of Encouragement As Dr. Cecil Taylor announced his retirement, the accolades poured in. At a reception in April, he and Reeda stood misty-eyed in the lobby of Weaver Hall as those impacted by his ministry expressed their appreciation. Letters were read, comments from alumni were shared, and hugs were exchanged. Just a few of those remarks, plus a few more sent in later as word spread about his retirement, include: “Like one of my favorite biblical characters, Barnabas, Dr. Taylor is a true minister of encouragement…Cecil and his family will be remembered by Alabama Baptists for his ministry of encouragement among us.” Dr. Rick Lance, Executive Director Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions “Two things happened when I was at Mobile…I started to love God’s Word and I developed a heart for the nations. Dr. Taylor was one of the main reasons both happened.” Parker Windle ’04, Youth Pastor Emmanuel International Church of Paris “Cecil Taylor is more than a professor. He gets to know students, and is able to discern ways that he can challenge or encourage them as individuals. He has influenced my life by believing in me and encouraging me. When I presented ideas that needed refinement, he knew how to be complimentary and critical, while helping me to grow. When Dr. Taylor speaks on a topic, you feel that you hear the voice of a friend who has seriously considered the matter.” Wes Johnson ’99, Team Strategy Leader in South Asia International Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention “Dr. Taylor has been an amazing professor, advisor and mentor to me for the past year. His wisdom has greatly impacted me. He is truly a man of God as well as one of the funniest people I have ever met. He will be greatly missed at UMobile.” Evan Gartman, Junior, Youth Pastor First Baptist Church of Moss Point, MS “Dr. Taylor shared his heart for the nations during a Sunday service at First Baptist North Mobile about 15 years ago. My wife and I left that service with a strong sense that when God cries out through the Prophet Isaiah, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?,’ He was talking to us. Three years later we found ourselves in South Asia serving with the IMB.” Everett Miller, Missions Pastor First Baptist North Mobile, Saraland, AL “Fulfilling God’s mission is the zeal of his life.” Dedication Plaque at Baptist Mission Chapel, 2013 Sao Domingos, Bahia, Brazil 47

Reaching the Nations My Favorite Things Ask Taylor about his favorite things, and there is a long list of “most favorites”: his students, the faculty he taught side-by-side with, the opportunity to serve as interim pastor at 19 churches in the Florida panhandle and southwest Alabama during his tenure at UMobile, and teaching “Mission and Message of Jesus” or “Intro to New Testament” for theology majors. He had the most fun with a class he developed, “Contemporary Religious Faith.” He brought in religious leaders from different faith traditions, various cults, and denominations other than Southern Baptist. They told students about their belief system during one class session, then Taylor gave a “debriefing” for students at the next class. “We talked about how you go to the Bible and answer these questions,” Taylor said. Many times, students had never come face-to-face with these viewpoints – and Taylor intended for them to learn how to cope with the beliefs they would encounter. “You need to be as hard-nosed about biblical truth as they are about their error. You need to be able to confront it,” he said. Still, if there is one particular place he is passionate about, it must be Brazil. When the 22nd chapel he helped build was dedicated on June 14, 2013, the congregation dedicated it to the glory of God and “in honor of Dr. Cecil Ray Taylor whom God, through the Holy Spirit, entrusted with His message.” The honor was a surprise for Taylor, and he is quick to say that his ministry was not his alone. “They acknowledged my hard 48 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

work,” he said. “I never thought of it as hard work. It was a labor of love. What I have done, WE have done. I couldn’t do what I do without Reeda doing what she does.” The Next Mission The couple has looked toward this day for many years. Reeda earned her nursing degree at UMobile specifically in order to do medical missions when Taylor retired. Currently she is a travel nurse, serving at hospitals in different cities for about three months at a time. Their aim is for Taylor to accompany her to her assignment, where he plans to “find a little Baptist church and see what I can do to help, from preaching in order to let the pastor take a vacation, to cleaning toilets.” With his skills and reputation, the options are many. They might return to Singapore, where Taylor took a sabbatical from UMobile and taught for six months at Baptist Theological Seminary. There are tours to lead in Israel, or preaching and teaching to do at churches and institutions through the International Baptist Convention. There are alumni scattered across the world to visit, chapels still to be built in Brazil, and laughter to be shared with those who need to know the Lord. “It’s always a bittersweet thing when you leave a place,” Reeda said. “There are wonderful memories, fun times and life-changing events. You drive out in tears. “But when we get to Texas, we’ll take a deep breath and look ahead to what God has in store.” To keep in touch with Dr. Taylor, email him at m

Photo by Dan Anderson 49

50 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013



Freshman Survival in

The College Wild By Trey Taulbee


he typical college freshman must survive late-night cram sessions, little sleep, and the dreaded 15-pound weight gain in their new environment. And UMobile is making sure freshmen students not only survive, but thrive in their first year away from home. Each new freshman at UMobile is required to enroll in Freshman Seminar. Freshman Seminar is a transition course provided through the office of Student Success and introduces students to college life at UMobile while fostering successful habits and independent responsibility. Current Student Relations Supervisor Sara Parker initiated Freshman Seminar in 2003. At the time, Parker was the university counselor and saw firsthand the challenges of freshman integration into college life. “When I started the program in 2003 it was not just the needs of our freshmen that caught my attention, but a nationwide trend of colleges and universities working to improve student success by focusing on the ‘first-year experience’ of college students,” says Parker. Today, more than 250 freshmen are integrated into UMobile life through Freshman Seminar, a crucial component of UMobile’s First-Year Experience. Freshmen are placed in different seminar classes that coincide with their Ram Rush Families for new student orientation. 51

“Through the worksheets, self-assessments and class discussion, Freshman Seminar really showed me peace that I was indeed in God’s will by being at UMobile.” Logan Harvey

According to Shirley Sutterfield, director of student retention, the university has experienced major growth in the areas of retention and student engagement. Since the Freshman Seminar program was established in 2003, UMobile’s retention rates have risen significantly above the national average. “When students are transitioning from high school to college, they need some direct guidance on what that transition looks like,” says Sutterfield. Throughout the semester, students 52 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

are required to conduct self-assessments ranging from personality profiles and strengths-tests to study-habit surveys and learning style inventories. This self-discovery helps students understand their role and place in the college environment. “Helping students have a ‘sense of belonging’ is crucial to college success,” says Sutterfield. While Ram Rush offers freshmen an environment to have fun and become acclimated to college life, the reality of responsibility hits during classes the following two weeks. Finding Their Way “As a freshman, it’s intimidating to ask questions,” says Brooke Catchpole, university counselor. Catchpole is the coordinator for Freshman Seminar and the First-Year Experience, as well as one of three certified counselors on the Student Success staff. She believes that creating a safe and nurturing environment for freshmen to succeed will pave the way for college success. “We want to make an early

connection with every freshman on campus, setting them up for success from day one,” says Catchpole. “Ram Rush provides us the opportunity to be personal with them, and help them on an individual basis– even when things aren’t going well.” As students progress through the semester, many will add or drop classes, and even change majors. Catchpole offers academic success coaching for students that are struggling with classes or need academic direction. Often, she finds that a simple change in students’ study habits or better time management will make a significant improvement in test scores. “It is inspiring seeing the light bulb come on for them,” she says. “It’s the switch from them saying ‘What am I doing here,’ to feeling connected to the university and their future calling.” Through the continued success of Freshman Seminar, there has been a growing need for individual interaction. Catchpole implemented “peer leaders” into Freshman Seminar in 2012. These upperclassmen assist the professor with weekly preparation and facilitating discussions in the classroom. “The addition of peer leaders has helped the success of Freshman Seminar, both in student retention and the visible connection of freshmen and upperclassmen,” says Catchpole. Logan Harvey, a sophomore biology major from Crawfordville, FL, was selected as a peer leader

for fall semester 2013. She believes Freshman Seminar was a key part of her assimilation into college life. “Through the worksheets, selfassessments, and class discussion, Freshman Seminar really showed me peace that I was indeed in God’s will by being at UMobile,” says Harvey. “Now, as a peer leader, I love the fact that I get to invest in the future of UMobile students and teach them the ins and outs of college to ease their transition.” “Freshman Seminar gave me the knowledge I needed to become an independent student,” says Joel King, a senior peer leader from Montgomery, AL. “As a peer leader, I want to give freshmen the best college experience possible, and I believe that starts with freshman year.” Thriving After College In addition to classroom learning, students are given opportunities to practice job preparation through interview and resume workshops. Brenda Davis, coordinator of career development, provides these services to students as a way for them to practice real-world scenarios before they graduate. “There are two great needs for our freshmen students: verbal skills and written skills,” says Davis. “I want to make sure they can communicate effectively with people.” Davis also developed a guide booklet called “Freshman Year to Dream Career.” This guide offers a four-year plan covering all aspects of

Photos by Trey Taulbee

job preparation, including academic planning, campus/community involvement, personal growth, and internship opportunities. Davis believes there is a strong correlation between these preparations and successful transitions after graduation. “We want to make sure our students are changing the world,” says Davis. “But we also want to make sure that our students are changed so that they

can integrate appropriately into the workforce.” Through an institution focused on learning, faith and leadership, Davis wants to see UMobile graduates use their knowledge and influence out in the world and in the workplace. “We want them to use who they are as God’s gift to change the world– not only for the Kingdom of God, but in their respective fields as well,” she says. m 53

54 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

By Kathy Dean 55

One of UMobile’s Greatest Pranks!


t was one of those rare brisk mornings in south Alabama, where your breath fogged in the cold and you debated whether walking quickly to class would warm you up or create just enough of a breeze to give your nose frostbite. You had to make the trek between Weaver and Martin, and you braced yourself to walk by the fountain, knowing the spray of water would be icy. The sun was so bright that day, and the sky so blue, that you still remember, 13 years later, how the reflection off the gleaming white porcelain toilet nearly blinded you. You stopped. Because, on this day that you will one day tell your kids about, there is a toilet on top of the fountain at the University of Mobile.

Best Pranks Ever It happened at some point during your college career, whether you were a student at Mobile College in the 1960s, a member of the latest graduating class of 2013, or on campus any of the years in between. Someone – maybe you – pulled the all-time best college prank ever. Perhaps it involved crickets, or furniture arranged on a rooftop, or a car parked on the front steps of Weaver Hall. Possibly it involved a professor; probably it involved your friends. How you did it, who helped, and what happened next became the stories of your youth. Sometimes they are the stories you tell your children; sometimes they are stories you hope your kids don’t find out because, surely, they wouldn’t do something so crazy and stupid. 56 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

“We turned the water back on and it was coming out of the top of the toilet, which was unexpected and beautiful.” Matt Wilson ‘02

Pranksters pose in front of the gleaming toilet atop the fountain. From left: Alan Castleberry, Josh Jones, Matt Wilson

Alumni: It’s time to tell your stories. Over the next several issues, your University of Mobile Magazine will print your photos and tales of some of the best pranks ever pulled on this campus. When we’ve published your Best Prank Ever stories, MC/UMobile alumni will have a chance to vote on their all-time favorite. Send your stories and photos with the subject line “Best Prank Ever” to magazine@umobile. edu. After all, the statute of limitations has probably run out. At least, that’s what the pranksters who put the toilet on top of the fountain are banking on. The Legend of the Overflowing Toilet It took about 13 years and a query on the University of Mobile Alumni Facebook page asking for photos of the toilet prank for the participants to agree the time had come to reveal all. “The funnest part for us has been

that no one has ever known who did it,” said Matt Wilson ’02. “Any time you can pull something off and keep it secret, the legend grows,” added Josh Jones ’02. Matt, now executive director of First Priority of Alabama, and Josh, who sells surgical robots for Intuitive Surgical, both live in the Birmingham area. Each has one photo of the night the toilet made it to the top of the fountain, with the help of fellow student Alan Castleberry who attended UMobile for two years. Steve Jenks ’02 took the photos with a disposable camera. “I was called to come there specifically to take pictures, and that’s what I did,” Steve said. His hand, he said, never touched porcelain. “I really can’t take credit for (the toilet prank), but I can take credit for being there when it happened. I felt very honored to be the guy holding the camera,” said Steve, now youth pastor at Tompkins Baptist Church in Grove Hill, AL. Josh’s photo, the one they all agree is the best, is usually pinned to his home office bulletin board but is packed away right now as his family is in the process of moving. Matt’s photo, pictured here, shows the young men at the moment of triumph – drinking soft drinks, he is quick to point out. Despite an extensive search in the UMobile archives, a photo of The Fountain Head could not be located.

Until one surfaces from an alumnus who captured a shot in the days before cell phones had cameras, memories are all that are left. But that’s okay. Unlike printed photos which can fade with time, imprinted memories of a successful prank only get better as they age. Anatomy of a Prank It happened one night around 1999 or 2000 – the timeframe is a bit foggy. It was a cold night, and Matt and Alan drove to the trailer park where Josh lived off-campus in a 26-foot travel trailer. Josh’s neighbor had piled up trash by the road. Sitting in the trash, ready to be hauled off, was an ancient, heavy, white porcelain toilet. “Matt and Alan knocked on the door and said, ‘Have you seen the toilet across the street?’ I said I had, and I was wondering what to do with it,” Josh recalled. Here’s what happened next, recounted by the two primary instigators. Matt: We had no money and nothing to do. I said, “We’ve got to do something with that.” Josh: It was a full porcelain pony, 100 percent porcelain, heavy, had to be at least 40 years old. It was crystal white. It was a beautiful structure. Literally, we’re standing in my front yard looking across the street and just brainstorming. Do we put it at the (college) entrance, on someone’s car, in someone’s car, change someone’s toilet out with it? With Alan’s help, they hefted the 57

“We grabbed the table, took it to the fountain and set it up in the fountain. We put the A-frame ladder on top of the fountain. We got the toilet on top of the table, then Matt and Alan climbed the ladder with the toilet.” Josh Jones toilet into Matt’s Jeep Cherokee and drove to campus. Matt: Our first plan was to get into Martin Hall and somehow get onto the roof and put it on the top corner of the roof. Martin Hall was open – we just couldn’t get to the roof. Josh: If I remember right, we both had that “Eureka!” moment – the leaking clothespin! It’s got to go on the leaking clothespin! The fountain sculpture is actually a work by Mobile artist Casey Downing Jr. titled “Sentinal 18 Fountain.” Josh: We went into Martin Hall and there was a full-sized fellowship table and A-frame ladder. It was a sign from the Lord. Anytime you have a toilet, a fellowship table and an A-frame ladder, the sign can’t get any clearer. Matt: We had to watch the security guards and time them to see how long we had before they came around again. Josh: We grabbed the table, took it to the fountain and set it up in the fountain. We put the A-frame ladder on top of the fountain. We got the toilet on top of the table, then Matt and Alan climbed the ladder with the toilet. Matt: The fountain is taller than you think. Josh: It was hurtful cold. It was below 32 degrees that night. You touch that water and it hurts your hand. Matt: We couldn’t find out how to turn the water off, and it was so cold. We finally found it, turned the water off and got the toilet on top. We turned the water back on and it was 58 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

coming out of the top of the toilet, which was unexpected and beautiful. Josh: Just about that time, we got it up there and are admiring our work, and Steve Jenks came strolling along. Jenksy is the one who snapped the pictures. Matt: About that time, we looked at each other and said we couldn’t tell anyone we did this. Quickly, avoiding the next patrol of security guard Ms. Lucy, they returned the folding table and ladder to Martin Hall and left the scene, promising to tell no one. The Fall-Out The toilet stayed on top of the fountain for several days. It was the talk of the campus. No one could figure out how it got up there, and on a small campus where most anything would be discovered eventually, no one knew for sure who did it. When the maintenance crew gathered at the fountain with a cherry-picker a few days later, Josh was walking by. Josh: I’m standing there with the maintenance crew of about four or five guys there. The head guy was shaking his head, saying “I don’t know how we’re going to get this down.” I said, “Tell you what I would do. I would get a table. Put the table in the fountain. Get a ladder. Put it on top of the table. Climb up the ladder and take the toilet down.” The guy looked at me and said, “That’ll never work.” Eventually, the crew used the cherry-picker to push the toilet off the

top of the fountain, where it hit the bricks and shattered. Reflections Years passed, and fewer than a dozen people knew this story – until today. “We found out last year from some friends who had moved from Mobile that people on campus were still talking about it,” Matt said. “That was just such a fun night,” Josh said. “We had such a good time. We were pretty excited about getting the toilet up there without breaking it.” They agreed to tell their story now because “we figured the statue of limitations had run out,” Josh said. “Literally, we put it up for a vote. When the Facebook piece came out asking who did the toilet, Matt forwarded it to me and said, ‘Do you think the time is right?’” Matt added, “It’s time for the world to know. I don’t think Dr. Foley can hold our diplomas from us now. I hope he finds this funny.” In telling their story, the pranksters revealed the “how.” One question still remains: “Why?” “The leaking clothespin is such a random, abstract piece of art,” Josh said. “Why not put a toilet on it?” Matt answered the question of “why” with a question of his own. “Have you ever met a 20-yearold guy before? I don’t have any explanation for why we would put a toilet on top of the fountain, except we were 20 years old.” m 59

By Will Drake

60 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013


he air was unusually warm and mild on an early December night at the University of Mobile. Students wearing intricate Greek clothes and bearing homemade Greek foods were congregating on campus to present their final project for the semester in the UMobile Honors Program, where grand presentations are normal for those who make the virtues of learning a habit. “You don’t go into class and memorize material. You join a conversation that stretches back to 3000 B.C. and you engage that conversation along the way,” said Dr. Ted Mashburn, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The Honors Program represents the academic heart of the University of Mobile, according to Honors professors. It presents talented students with the opportunity to explore challenging questions and deep academic topics while uniting students from every field of study at UMobile. “Honors has taught me to find joy in everything that I do,” said Amanda Gaster, class of 2015. Students scurried behind her, working together to clean the remnants of the Greek marketplace that had existed minutes before. “When I am in a situation that is overwhelming or mundane, I look back on times when I put everything I had into seeking answers in Honors.” Mallory Searcy, class of 2014, agrees that the Honors Program has a unique impact on the lives of students. “Honors has taught me something incredible,” she said. “We can ask questions that every great mind has asked, and have the doubts that they have experienced, and we can come out still believing in God with a stronger faith in Him.” The Honors Program provides that opportunity to students through a diverse community from all disciplines. Drs. Doug Mitchell and Katherine Abernathy, associate professors of English, lead the program while professors from various fields instruct the class each semester. Photos by Doug Mitchell 61

Honors students build Trojan horse for semester project.

The UMobile Honors Program is a four-semester seminar that conditions students for further academic pursuits. The seminar replaces the students’ four required English core courses. The program accepts students from all majors. Students who enroll with a 27 or higher ACT score are automatically placed in the Honors Program. Other motivated students may apply. The seminar covers academic movements from the ancient world, Medieval and Renaissance periods, the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and modernism in the 20th century. The classes are interdisciplinary, encompassing many subjects within each movement. Multiple professors teach the course each semester, and the Honors Program selects professors based on their specializations, pairing the instructor with the movement in which he or she is most skilled. After the seminar, students complete nine additional hours of Honors study in their respective disciplines. Every two years, UMobile offers Honors core courses in history, political science, philosophy, English, biology, and Christian studies in addition to upper62 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Dr. Stephen Schuler teachers honors class.

level specialty courses. The 12-semester-hour seminar also generates a unique class structure. When a student arrives, he or she joins the active seminar course. The sophomore group that completed two semesters of the seminar the previous year shares this course with the freshmen. Additionally, five elected sophomores serve on the Honors Council. The Council facilitates online student blogs and journal responses throughout the year. They also determine the topic for the final project. “There are other people there to support (the new students). The community provides that. We emphasize that you are there to help

each other,” said Abernathy. The seminar provides ample time and a friendly environment for students who want to think deeply and discuss difficult questions. “The relationships are different. They bond around ideas,” said Mashburn. The class will often divide into smaller groups to discuss, explore, and debate ideas that arise through study. The professors guide students both inside and outside class, aiding the students on research papers and supplying them with feedback on topics of interest. “We would struggle through the questions that cause people to change their lives completely, and we learn to love,” said Gaster. Learning to care

for other humans and to love like God drives the Honors program to treat students as people with a purpose rather than lifeless statistics. Learning opportunities also thrive outside the classroom. Students organize educational events like the seminar final project, a formal classwide presentation of a topic covered during the semester. The Greek marketplace was one such project; another resulted in construction of a Trojan horse. “People really asked ‘why?’ They wanted to know why we spent all our time building a Trojan horse,” said former Honors president Jeremy Crews ‘13. “We do these things for the sake of learning. There are people in the program who won’t study English or philosophy or sociology for the rest of their lives, and we do these things so that we understand what it is like to come together and accomplish something, beginning with a work that we don’t understand, and uniting in that.” The horse was constructed completely by seminar students during a three-week period. When assembled, the horse stood 25 feet tall. “We didn’t know how to start or how to build. We took a chance that could have resulted in failure, but we reached our goal as a group. We learned through that struggle,” said Crews. The students delivered the horse to the front of the university the evening of the final project. They then reenacted the “Aeneid” under the looming horse, sharing their minds and hearts with passing students and faculty. “Most universities don’t have that,” continued Searcy. “They have this idea that we are limited because we are a Christian school. But here, with these professors and this program, we actually have more freedom. We know that we are seeking truth together. We can be honest with these questions.” Monumental projects are not a unique event for Honors students even after they have completed the seminar. They become self-motivated

Dr. Ted Mashburn keeps the conversation moving.

in their search for truth and will often propose grand ideas to their professors. “In Honors, one is not allowed to read a text and be tested over the material,” said Kala Holt ‘12. “The first step is to immerse oneself in the text – to live it. If it does not affect how you wake up in the morning and go about the day—if the readings that week do not bother you at least once—then you’ve missed it. You’ve only read the text. You haven’t lived the ideas.” One group of Honors students lived the Honors mindset, deciding that performing Shakespeare is essential to learning it. Before the semester had even begun, they asked their Shakespeare professor, Dr. Stephen Schuler, if they could present the full play for the final grade in the course. He happily granted their request. The students prepared the play with no outside involvement. They spent their time throughout the summer and time outside class preparing to present the play for the next semester. “‘Much Ado’ required weeks where the average night’s sleep was

four-and-a-half to five hours. The play required multiple Saturdays of not sleeping in, but showing up to rehearse – all day long,” said Holt. “It required constant thought, consistent prayer, and multiple failures. ‘Much Ado’ required the very message it portrays: redemption.” The play filled the auditorium and had to be expanded to three production nights rather than the original one-night show. The students proved the ability and initiative they had learned in the Honors Program. “You see, education begins with strict discipline and labor, but it ends in freedom. The Honors Program allows us to turn students loose on texts and ideas and guide them as they make things their own,” said Honors professor Schuler. “It’s not just the ‘Iliad’ anymore, but our ‘Iliad,’ not just the ‘Republic,’ but our ‘Republic,’ not just the ‘Comedia,’ but our ‘Comedia.’” For more information about the Honors Program at the University of Mobile, contact program director Dr. Douglas Mitchell at dmitchell@ or 251.442.2308. m 63

64 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

By Kathy Dean Photos by G.M. Andrews 65

Loyalty. Duty. Respect. Selfless Service. Honor. Integrity. Personal Courage.


hese seven core values of the United States Army – known by the acronym LDRSHIP –also correspond to the Christian leadership focus of the University of Mobile, said Jameron Gatson,’07 and ’13. A 2nd lieutenant in the Alabama National Guard, Gatson said these core values did more than make him a good soldier – they also made him an excellent college student. Now a children’s therapist at AltaPointe Health Services in Mobile, Gatson said going through basic training during his freshman year, then a year-long deployment to Iraq during his sophomore year, could have derailed his college education plans. But the faculty and staff went all out to make his college experience mesh with his military service. “They worked with me, they were supportive. They made it a good transition, both leaving and coming back,” he said. As a member of the National Guard, Gatson was a fulltime undergraduate student majoring in sociology, then a graduate student in the master’s program in marriage and family counseling. “I was managing a full-time class load, drilling one weekend a month, and keeping up with all of my National Guard duties and my schoolwork,” he said. He had support and encouragement all along the way, from professors to the financial aid office staff. The financial benefits of military

66 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

service helped tremendously. As a “Military Friendly School” participating in the Post-9/11 GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program, the university helps veterans and their dependents navigate through paperwork required to make the most of their education benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Students enrolled in ROTC also have the benefit of personal attention from the school’s counselors who make sure they are receiving the most benefits, scholarships and grants possible. “It’s always been a bonus in serving your country that they will pay for our school, or a percentage of it. It’s a blessing and privilege to be able to serve, come back home, and reap the benefits of your sacrifice. As a deployed veteran, I was able to see more benefits and was able to earn a master’s degree almost for free with the National Guard and VA paying,” Gatson said. Paying for College Assistant Director of Enrollment Services Rebecca Robinson ’05 and Financial Aid Counselor Shelisskia Douggans work one-on-one with students who are eligible for education benefits as a result of their military service. Currently, 64 of the more than 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at UMobile receive some form of military-related education benefit. “These families have given so much for our country. It is really rewarding

“Students who attend UMobile have a different experience than they would at most schools because of the personal attention we strive to give them.” Rebecca Robinson ‘05

to know that we are playing a small role in helping them make their college dreams a reality,” Robinson said. Douggans said she takes pride in assisting military families with the high level of customer service and personal touch that UMobile is known for providing. “Military families have made a great sacrifice for our country, and military service can be hard on a family. I find the most rewarding thing about helping our military families is, once I have assisted the family with processing their VA benefits, how the family becomes so comfortable with me and how appreciative they are that I go the extra mile to assist them. I feel this is the least I can do to give back for what they have done for our country,” Douggans said. As a UMobile graduate, Robinson

What it Means to be ‘Military Friendly’

The University of Mobile participates in several programs that provide financial support for students who have served or are preparing to serve in the military. The university has earned special designations for providing veterans and their dependents an exceptional opportunity for higher education. Military Friendly School “Military Friendly Schools” are universities in the top 15 percent nationwide that deliver the best experience for military students. UMobile earned this prestigious designation through a survey of more than 12,000 schools by Victory Media and independently verified by Ernst and Young. Criteria evaluated include military support on campus, academic credibility, percent of military students, academic credit and flexibility for military students, veteran graduation rates, student tuition assistance, student survey, employment rates, military spouse policies and government approvals. “Your school is among the elite competing for military students,” said Rich McCormick, president of Victory Media Inc. “You have demonstrated a strong interest in recruiting military students, and I urge you to augment your already stellar efforts by continuing to improve your military friendliness each year.” Yellow Ribbon Program UMobile participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, established by the Post9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008. The Post-9/11 GI Bill can cover all in-state tuition and fees at public degreegranting schools. The Yellow Ribbon 67

Dr. Doug Mitchell, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and current student Gary Hamner discuss military affairs.

knows the school is a good fit for military families. “Students who attend UMobile have a different experience than they would at most schools because of the personal attention we strive to give them,” Robinson said. “Whether that’s through the enrollment process or in the classroom, UMobile has cultivated a place of caring people who love to help others.” As part of cultivating that special place, the university’s Development Office is searching for donors to contribute funds that will create an endowed scholarship fund for veterans, service members and their family members. Anyone may donate any amount toward the fund online at or call 251.442.2287 for more information. 68 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

The College Soldier Gatson said there is an advantage to being a college student with military experience, and UMobile professors agree. “The core values I learned in the National Guard helped me to be a more dedicated and committed student,” said Gatson. By the time he was finishing graduate school, he was also going through officer candidate school. He likened the process to putting gold through a refiner’s fire. “The two paths were coinciding with each other. In both places, I would hear terms like ‘ethics,’ ‘values,’ and ‘integrity.’ I heard the word ‘integrity’ so much in the marriage and family counseling program, and it confirmed that I was

where I needed to be in my life,” Gatson said. Sophomore Gary Hamner said growing up in a military family and his current ROTC experience influence how he approaches college. “If you are going to last in the military, either you already have that goal-oriented mindset, or you have it instilled in you when you go through training,” he said. As a veteran’s dependent, Hamner was able to use his father’s Post 9-11 GI Bill benefits to pay for his first year of college. By his sophomore year, Hamner had a high grade point average, good PT (physical fitness) scores in ROTC, and received a threeyear ROTC scholarship that pays for the remainder of his bachelor’s degree.

“A student who has finished a tour as a Marine in Afghanistan looks at issues of ethics, the question of ‘just war’, the experience on a battlefield, the encounter with different cultures, and political questions differently. They have to grow up fast.” Dr. Doug Mitchell

Hamner plans to make the U.S. Army his career, attend Special Forces school and become an officer in the Green Berets. In addition to ROTC class and lab, Hamner takes a full class load at UMobile, serves as a Student Government Association senator, and is a member of the Honors Council in the Honors Program. He enjoys talking about the military with Associate Professor of English Dr. Doug Mitchell, who also grew up in a military family and served in the U.S. Coast Guard. The political science major said he chose to minor in philosophy after taking “Introduction to Philosophy” with Dr. Ted Mashburn, associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Hamner believes his philosophy minor will help him most in his military career. A philosophy minor, he said, forces you to think about why you believe what you do. “I will look to the Lord when I am going through something in the military that is really tough,” Hamner said. “I will make friends in the military, and I will lose those friends, and that will be difficult. But I have the Lord. When you have Him as your foundation, it makes you stronger.” Enriching Experiences UMobile professors enjoy having students with military backgrounds in their classrooms, for a variety of reasons. Mitchell said military students bring a wealth of experience in the

wider world back into the classroom. “A student who has finished a tour as a Marine in Afghanistan looks at issues of ethics, the question of ‘just war’, the experience on a battlefield, the encounter with different cultures, and political questions differently. They have to grow up fast,” Mitchell said. Mitchell said his own military service gave him a newfound discipline and a desire to apply himself. He sees a similar drive in students like Hamner. “If there is a military man or woman in class, you’ve got someone who understands how to lead a team to the completion of a task. They also tend to be more selfless as part of a team; one thing you learn very quickly in the military is that you as an individual don’t matter as much as you thought you did. You can, however, work with others to accomplish extraordinary things,” Mitchell said. Athletic Training Program Director Dr. William Carroll is a veteran of the Vietnam conflict who earned two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star Medal and Distinguished Service Cross. He said veterans can be a great attribute to any academic program because their life experiences “breed maturity and a fierce determination to succeed and not waste their time because they have a higher understanding of how precious time can be. One of my favorite sayings is ‘For those who fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.’” Dr. Larissa Walker, assistant

Program provides additional support at private schools such as UMobile by matching each dollar of unmet charges that the university agrees to contribute in grants or scholarships, up to the total cost of tuition and fees. As a result, veterans and their dependents have the possibility of earning a college degree at no cost to them. Benefits may also include a monthly housing allowance. Veterans may be eligible for benefits if they have served at least 90 aggregate days on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001, or were honorably discharged from active duty for a service-connected disability after serving 30 continuous days following Sept. 10, 2001. For more details about the program and eligibility, visit Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Consortium As a member of the SOC Consortium, UMobile has flexible policies that allow servicemembers and their families to complete degrees rather than just accumulate course credit when college is interrupted due to deployment or new assignments. The university awards academic credit for military training and experience and certain nationally recognized testing programs. For more information, visit Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) UMobile students may enroll in ROTC, which prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. military. In exchange for a paid college education and a guaranteed post-college career, cadets commit to serve in the U.S. military after graduation. For information, visit www. or see the university’s academic catalog at For more detailed information, contact UMobile Enrollment Services at 251.442.2222 or 800.WIN.RAMS. 69

Student Robert Williams Jr. visits with Dr. Doug Wilson.

professor of biology, said veterans bring a sense of sacrifice and selflessness to the classroom. “They show the younger, traditional students that the world is bigger than themselves and, if something is important enough to you, you will sacrifice whatever it takes to pursue and achieve it,” Walker said. Veterans’ families who take advantage of the military’s education benefits also benefit from UMobile’s personal attention, as well as resources such as the Student Success Center and Chora Godwin Learning Center. Dr. Doug Wilson, dean of the School of Christian Ministries and director of the Intercultural Studies Program, said one of the challenges that children of military personnel face is that they are “third-culture kids.” Wilson, who has three sons with military connections, has a special understanding of the challenges of students who have grown up in the military life. “They grow up in one or more cultures, often feeling the same kind of isolation that missionary kids and children of expatriate businessmen 70 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Photo by Kathy Dean

and diplomats face. We are trying to meet the needs of these students through our Intercultural Studies Program. Some of our majors are third-culture kids with military connections. By teaching them to analyze various cultural dynamics, they are learning to overcome the barriers that separate them from their peers,” Wilson said. Assistant Professor of Political Science Dr. Julie Biskner said veterans bring an added dimension to political science classes. “They can talk more knowledgeably about how the military works, dispelling myths, and what it’s like working for the government,” Biskner said. Dr. Cassidy Cooper, assistant professor of sociology, said Air Force reservists and a retired Army veteran in her classes “bring an incredible amount of maturity, thoughtfulness and real-world integration to the classroom.” She said a classroom discussion about the Stanford Prison experiment in which undergraduate “guards” began to abuse “prisoners” after only two days resulted in one of the best

learning experiences because of the military students’ observations and experiences. “They understood the psychosocial pressure to conform in an environment perceived as dangerous,” she said. “Their ability to connect theoretical and experimental research with personal, practical experience led to one of the best conversations about research ethics, and our roles as Christians, that I have ever had in a college classroom.” Patriotism Runs Deep Patriotism is a theme that runs deep throughout the UMobile experience. One event in which that value is exhibited is the annual University of Mobile Leadership Banquet. With speakers that have included former U.S. President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, among other national leaders, the banquet has served as a celebration of service to God and country, while raising funds that enable the university to provide scholarships. Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North will be the featured speaker at the 9th annual University of Mobile Leadership Banquet on March 27, 2014. The combat-decorated U.S. Marine is a No. 1 best-selling author, founder of a small business, an inventor with three U.S. patents, a syndicated columnist, and host of the award-winning military documentary series “War Stories” on Fox News Channel. Tickets and sponsorships are available for the gala evening that will be held at the Arthur Outlaw Mobile

“I am grateful that we have men and women faithfully serving our country who have chosen to gain an education at the University of Mobile. From my family to theirs: Thank you for your service!” Dr. Doug Wilson

Convention Center. For tickets and more information, visit www.umobile. edu/banquet2014 or call the UMobile Development Office at 251.442.2598. A Supportive Campus Wayne Sirmon, a retired colonel with the Alabama State Defense Force, a volunteer group within the Alabama National Guard, is an adjunct history instructor at UMobile. With a background that includes two years as an active duty Army officer, 12 years in the National Guard and Army Reserves, plus running a small family printing business, Sirmon brings a wealth of experience and insight into teaching Western Civilization, U.S. History and Geography courses. “Almost every semester I’ll have a student who is an Army brat or Air Force kid,” Sirmon said. The university “is a warm and caring environment for all faculty, staff and students. Some of it’s the size of campus, and some of it is the people.

Here there is a wider acceptance of people who have a different background or goals in life, and the fact that my background is different from yours is not a barrier. There’s acceptance. You don’t have a feeling of necessity to start a club for people who have worn the uniform or combat boots.” Because Sirmon and his wife believe so strongly in the school, they donate his entire adjunct pay to an endowed scholarship they established in memory of Sirmon’s father. William Joseph Sirmon Jr. That recognition of the value of a UMobile education for all students attracts veterans such as Robert J. Williams Jr., a disabled veteran with 23 years of Army service. Williams founded and pastors River’s Edge Outreach Ministry in Robertsdale, AL, and chose UMobile in order to pursue a theology degree and more fully use

his gift of teaching people how to apply the Word in their everyday life. “I wanted to get a deeper understanding of what I was teaching, to be able to take it a little bit further,” Williams said. As a disabled veteran, his books and tuition are paid for through the VA. His sons are able to use dependent benefits for college, as will his wife when she enrolls at UMobile in the spring. Williams said he made the right choice to enroll at UMobile. “When I visited the campus, it was instantaneous for me. I am thoroughly satisfied with the choice I have made,” Williams said. Professors say they are glad veterans and their dependents are choosing UMobile. They have seen traditional students thank veterans for their service, learn leadership skills from them during team assignments, and gain a broader perspective of the world. The university celebrated its veteran students, faculty, staff and alumni during its first VA Appreciation Day on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11. The public celebration was in recognition of the sacrifice military personnel and their families make, and a way for the UMobile family to say “thank you.” Dr. Wilson added a personal note. “I am grateful that we have men and women faithfully serving our country who have chosen to gain an education at the University of Mobile,” Wilson said. “From my family to theirs: Thank you for your service!” m 71


University of Mobile

Ram Run 2013 With 62 eager runners and a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning at Oak Mountain State Park, the Pelham Ram Run was off to a great start. The second annual 5k run on June 22, 2013 had all the makings of a great event: beautiful scenery, music, breakfast, giveaways, and camaraderie among new and old friends. In addition to the medals the winners took home, runners left with a sense of accomplishment and anticipation for the opportunity to beat their time next year when the University of Mobile Ram Run returns to Pelham.

Winners for the 2013 Ram Run include:

Female Overall – Marcie Davis, 22:15 7:10 Male Overall – Zach Gaines ‘13, 19:18 6:13 Female Masters Overall – Karen Wilson ‘78, 30:30 9:49 Male Masters Overall – Jeffrey Koontz, 23:50 7:41 Female Grand Masters Overall – Carollynne Blakney, 31:05 10:00 Female Senior Grand Masters Overall – Gladys Harris, 33:50 10:54 More runner times may be viewed at Thanks to all our alumni and friends who participated this year! For information on the UMobile Ram Run and other alumni events, contact the Office of Alumni at 251.442.2226 or visit the website at m Photos by Time Capsule Images

72 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Photos by G.M. Andrews

Save the Date for Ram Run 2014! Mobile: April 12, 2014 Pelham: June 21, 2014 73


‘I Am the Vine’ Metal Sculpture By Shannon Mason The sculpture in front of Ram Hall is a project completed by Dr. Mark Foley and former Board of Trustee member Jim Daniel. The piece, titled “I Am the Vine,” is a much larger version of a 14-inch metal sculpture Foley fashioned in 2006 in his garage workshop for his wife, Marilyn. Both pieces depict a crown of thorns hanging from the top of the cross, with steel vines growing from the cross, stained with splashes of red representing Christ’s blood. The depiction is based on the scriptural reference in John 15, verse 5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (New International Version) “It was important to me that this piece had the deep meaning of being handcrafted by men who share the belief that life, abundance, peace, joy, love and all the virtues of our faith come from the awful experience of Christ on the cross” said Foley. The sculpture now stands surrounded by a rock garden designed by Dr. Bill Dumas, a Mobile radiologist and close friend of Foley. The site was dedicated on April 27, 2009, with a plaque dedicating the piece “to those who courageously follow Christ and to those who will learn to follow Him through the influence of the University of Mobile.” m

74 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

AD 75


76 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

It’s All About Connections The University of Mobile is so much more than a great place to earn a college degree – it’s a place where connections are made that change your life. Let’s celebrate – and strengthen – those connections! With that in mind, your Alumni Office is launching “Connections” – a comprehensive alumni communication effort focused solely at making it easier for you to stay connected with everything happening on and off campus. It’s an outreach aimed to inspire, engage, rekindle and transform your involvement with your university family. Your University of Mobile Magazine is the starting point, with stories about the people, ideas and experiences that make your university relevant to alumni, current and future students. We’re excited about what comes next. Soon, you will be seeing more in the way of events, social media, e-newsletters, postcards and mailers that bring you information specifically for alumni. We need your involvement right from the start to make our connections strong. It is important that your Alumni Office has your updated information so you can be included in all the great Connections we are planning! Please provide us with your updated information: • Online at • Through email at • By phone at 251.442.2226 • By mail at University of Mobile Alumni Office 5735 College Parkway Mobile, AL 36613 Your memories and experiences of the past formed the connections we are building on for the future – and we want you to be involved. Let’s get Connected!

Allison Nelson ’04 and ’06 Director of Alumni Relations 251.442.2226 | 77


78 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

Sweet Dreams

Bruns Family Tradition Begins in School of Nursing By Will Drake

Left to Right: Maryann Bruns Dean ‘04, Alex Bruns ‘00, Cindy Bruns, John Bruns ‘78, Johnathan Bruns ‘02, Amanda Rouse Bruns ‘03 Photos by G.M. Andrews 79


“I know how my children were raised, and I wanted them to be in a place where they would be challenged to grow academically and spiritually. I knew that UMobile was the place for them to experience that.” Cindy Bruns

If you have had surgery in Mobile, chances are that one of the last things you saw before the anesthesia took effect was a member of the Bruns family. “We always joke that, if nothing else, at least you can sleep at our house,” said Cindy Bruns, assistant to the vice president for advancement at the University of Mobile. Cindy’s family includes five nurse anesthetists, each of whom attended the University of Mobile where they began their career. Cindy’s husband, John Bruns ’78, started the legacy. Their children, Alex Bruns ‘00, Johnathan Bruns ‘02, and Maryann Bruns Dean ’04 followed their father’s footsteps. Each graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Their daughter-in-law, Amanda Rouse Bruns ’03, met Johnathan at the University of Mobile while both were in the nursing program. John wasn’t expecting to start a family tradition when he enrolled at then-Mobile College. He had earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from The Citadel in 1972, then he and Cindy married. After four years serving in the United States Army, John decided to pursue a career in health care and the couple moved to Mobile where Cindy had family. John completed the associate degree in nursing program, becoming

80 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

a registered nurse. That education provided him the foundation to pursue additional training as a nurse anesthetist from The School of Anesthesia for Nurses at the University of South Alabama Medical Center. The University of Mobile’s Christian environment and quality academic program set the stage for the family legacy. “It is a great honor for us to have graduated from such a highly regarded institution as the University of Mobile,” John said. He said many professors who taught him in 1976, including the late Dr. Rosemary Adams, were teaching his children as they began the nursing program. “We all received a great education from caring professors that made a difference in our lives,” John said. When oldest son Alex graduated with a B.S.N. in 2000, Cindy took a position in the Admissions Office. From working with students enrolling, watching her own children go through college, and now helping the university stay connected with alumni and donors, she is keenly aware of the value of a University of Mobile education. “Knowing the foundation of Christian values and principles that have always been a part of this school, and the fact they reflect the values of our family, brings me great pride and satisfaction,”


Cindy said. “I know how my children were raised, and I wanted them to be in a place where they would be challenged to grow academically and spiritually. I knew that UMobile was the place for them to experience that.” The experience paid off. “We all graduated from UMobile and work in the same field,” said Alex. “The problem comes when the hospital doesn’t know which Bruns to call in at 2 a.m. Yes, it happens all the time. “It must be in our blood,” he continued. “While growing up with my dad in this profession, I had an idea of what to expect. I knew this career would be challenging and also rewarding to know you are always helping people.” Johnathan agreed. “I think my road to working in healthcare started as a young boy. I wanted to do what my dad did,”

m Cindy and John Bruns ‘78

Johnathan said. “As I started college and it was time for me to begin making career decisions, I was given a great piece of advice from my dad: seek employment in a hospitaI to determine if this area of health care is something you would enjoy. I began my career as an orderly and the rest is history. “ Each family member – including daughter-in-law Amanda – attended the University of Mobile specifically to kick-start their careers in healthcare and enable them to earn further degrees in nurse anesthesia. “I felt I would be attending a university that cared about its students and I would not be only a number,” said Johnathan. “I was right. I’m still in contact with several of my nursing instructors.” Amanda said she has opportunities to work with her husband, father-inlaw, brother-in-law and sister-in-law as

anesthetists. “I do enjoy working with all of them. I learned a lot from my father-in-law. It was very comforting to have someone you trusted, with as much experience as he has, readily available as a resource,” Amanda said. Maryann added, “I am the baby of the group, so I have been able to work with each of my family members as I was completing my clinical rotation for certified registered nurse anesthesia school. I enjoyed working with everyone, but especially with my dad when I was on my open-heart rotation. He taught me so much and it’s nice for your daddy to have your back.” With the help of the University of Mobile, the Bruns family comforts patients emotionally and spiritually while also responding to their physical needs. “The caring attitudes of many of my

instructors at UMobile have had a great impact in the way I have taken care of my patients and their families throughout my career thus far,” said Maryann. “I started off working in the cardiac intensive care unit,” Maryann continued. “A caring touch, voice, and attitude are what these very sick patients and visiting families need. Mrs. Mattie Easter and Mrs. Diane Carithers were amazing examples of that. They each cared for their students and wanted them to do their best, but also went above and beyond for their patients giving them extra special attention and setting an example for us to follow.” Alex said the encouragement he received from faculty was a vital part of his success. “My favorite memory is of Mrs. Mattie Easter, assistant professor of nursing and coordinator of nursing admissions. She was my advisor from the beginning of my career at UMobile and has since become a good friend of my mother and whole family. She is a caring and loving part of the nursing program,” Alex said. Johnathan agreed that the compassion and caring of faculty in the School of Nursing set a lasting example for students. “Working in the healthcare field and especially surgery, I am in contact with people who are experiencing very stressful situations,” Johnathan said. “I have a chance to make this experience a little better. I try to do anything to help the patient and family. It may be making them laugh or just taking a few extra minutes to listen to them. I feel making each patient’s day a little brighter can help make a difference.” Maryann said there is a larger purpose at work in her family’s calling. “I feel that God has placed us all in the healthcare field for a reason, and I am honored He chose this path for me and our family,” concluded Maryann. m 81

alumnistories Shaping the Future Ashley Shelton Mason ‘13 By Trey Taulbee

College graduates all across the nation are often hard-pressed to find a job that harnesses their talents, much less a position in their field of study. But through her mentoring professors and hands-on experiences in and out of the classroom at UMobile, 2013 graduate Ashley Shelton Mason has found both. At the age of 23, Mason is using her business experience and influence to make Selma, AL an enjoyable place to visit and call home. She was named tourism director for Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce in August 2013. Beginning her freshman year, Mason got involved in Student Government Association and several other leadership groups at UMobile, each of which she says was “a crucial part” of her success. But one group, ENACTUS, shaped her future in a way she would not have imagined. In March 2013, Mason was selected as one of Coastal Alabama’s “20 Brightest 20-Somethings” due to her work in UMobile’s ENACTUS chapter, and her photography business. Through ENACTUS, Shelton was instrumental in impacting nearly 18,000 people in the Mobile community by establishing and operating a clothing closet at Dumas Wesley Community Center, raising funds for The Joseph Project food pantry, and several other sustainable business projects. ENACTUS (formerly SIFE – Students in Free Enterprise) is a national organization for business students focused on using community service projects aimed at creating a more sustainable world. UMobile’s chapter has won two regional championships and national recognition for their efforts, but Mason said the

82 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

awards are “secondary.” “Nothing compares to the change we can see in our community and in the lives we impacted,” she says. Mason graduated in May 2013 with Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration degrees. On June 13, 2013, she married Weston Mason ’13 – whom she met on move-in day their freshman year. “My goals were pretty simple: graduate college, get married, have an awesome job,” she says. “But, I never expected that God would bless me abundantly with each of those goals.” Mason credits Dr. Jane Finley, dean of the School of Business, and Amy Taylor, assistant professor of business and economics and ENACTUS sponsor, for helping prepare her for her current role as tourism director. “Dr. Finley took it upon herself to find jobs in Selma that would be adequate for the two degrees I was about to receive,” she says. “Mrs. Taylor spent hours with me editing my resume to make sure it was perfect.” Now, as an influential voice for Selma-Dallas County, and as an entrepreneur with her own photography business, Mason wants to use her business experience and heart for social change to make a difference.

“I interact with people all over the city on a daily basis, and I can’t expect them to think like me,” she says. “I’m working to change their perspective on Christians, photographers, tourism directors, and everything else I am.” This influence is a natural outworking of her training at UMobile, both in the classroom and in the community. “I could literally talk for days about how the University of Mobile has contributed to my success,” says Mason. “Every teacher I had invested in me and helped me become the person I am today.” m

In the Center of Worship Dr. Todd F. Stearns ’88 By Kathy Dean

There is a moment during the church service when Todd Stearns is at the center of sound. The 120-voice choir and full orchestra of First Baptist Church of Naples, FL are behind him and 2,000 worshippers are in front of him. It is the moment when his hand is raised, directing the music, directing the worship. In the midst of overwhelming sound, of voices raised in praise, Todd is alone with his Creator. It is a moment of pure joy and adoration, a time that Todd and the congregation he serves enter into the presence of Almighty God through personal surrender, praise and thanksgiving. It is a moment when, together, each person stands alone before God and surrenders to Him. That is what it means to be a worship pastor – to stand before God’s people and be used by Him to design and lead worship that touches the heart and helps people touch the face of God. As associate pastor for worship and music, Todd’s desire is simple. He wants to be the best worship and music pastor he can be. He knows that accomplishing his goal takes hard work and discipline. It’s a lesson he learned as a student majoring in music and vocal performance at the University of Mobile, traveling with a special ministries team presenting music and drama to churches and civic organizations throughout the nation. He practiced, studied and learned from faculty and staff who mentored him in faith and life. The academic program prepared him for seminary where he completed master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees. With Sonya, his wife and 1989 UMobile graduate, teaching English in the church’s school and leading the school choir and worship team,

Todd sees his years at UMobile as a blessing in his own life. It is a blessing he knows future students will receive as well, through a Center for Performing Arts program that is second to none. Today, Todd leads worship and music at a church with 8,700 members. As the sound swells, the voices combine with the orchestra and fill the auditorium, Todd stands in the center of worship. He realizes yet again how truly humbling it is to stand before God’s people and help them meet with the Lord and worship Him in spirit and in truth. m 83

classnotes ‘60s

Cleveland Brown ’69 – Retired from the Conecuh County School System. Also retired from the Conecuh County Baptist Association as Director of Missions and a retired pastor. Cleveland is spending his time writing poetry and enjoying photography. He won third place in the Alabama State Poetry Society contest with his poem “A Tiny Knight.”


Larry Renfroe ’70 – Retired from the U.S. Air Force as Lieutenant Colonel after more than 25 years as an air traffic control and communications officer. His most challenging job was supervising communications in southwest Asia after Desert Storm. He has received his M.B.A. and M.A. in computer resources. Larry has been a bi-vocational pastor of two United Methodist churches for over 10 years. For almost 30 years, he has taught at the college level. He has taught in the Alabama college system for 11 years.


Barbara Grimes Goswick ’89 – Received the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers 2012 Service Award. She graduated with an M.B.A. in December 2012 from the University of North Alabama. She works at the University of Arkansas System as the Vice President for Finance & CFO. Cheryl Hurst Maqueda ’86 – Was honored as the Mississippi Foreign Language Association Teacher of Excellence. An assistant professor of Spanish at William Carey University, she was re-elected president of the Mississippi chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese in November 2012. She presented a workshop titled “Culture Sparks” at the 2012 MFLA meeting and it was accepted for inclusion in the program for the 2013 AATSP Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX, in July.

84 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013


Kendra Murray Strenth ’91 – Graduated from Samford University in May 2012 with her Doctorate of Nursing Practice in administration and certificate in Education. She works at Bishop State Community College. Tracy Jones Womack ’98 – An Executive Board Member of Coastal Family Promise, she is member of the Board of Directors of Prodisee Pantry. Tracy is an active member of the Junior League of Mobile and also of FWI of Mobile. She works at White-Spunner & Associates. Philip Law ’91 – Completed his Ph.D. in organization and management in health care administration. He is finishing his dissertation and now working at Huntingdon College as an Associate Professor in the W. James Samford Jr. School of Business. Kenneth Robinson ’98 – Currently teaching history at Murphy High School, he was recently honored to have a book published on local civil rights icon John LeFlore. Kevin Lee and Mod Mobilian Press published the book.


Bradford Forehand ’09 – Has almost completed his second year at Arizona State University where he will receive a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre for Youth. He often directs productions around campus, and has assistant-directed at The Coterie in Kansas City, MO, and Lexington Children’s Theatre in Lexington, KY. Bradford is a freelance teaching artist for Childsplay in Tempe, AZ, and is interning for a national playwriting symposium that Childsplay is hosting. Stephanie Rester Howell ’03 – Has been working with Hertz Corporation for 13 years in Human Resource Management. Stephanie has two children. David Jarrell ’00 – Has been manager and agent of the Ross Sloan Agency for three years. He has two boys, Wesley and Matthew. David and his family actively

attend Bayou Sara Baptist Church in Saraland, AL. Deborah Cooper ’12 – Accepted a position in Panama City, FL, as a Quality Systems Technician right after she graduated. That job helped her attain her dream job of working at Berdero Shaw as a QA/QC Supervisor.


Nicki Culver Etris ’04 and Adam Etris announce the birth of their first child, Abigail Harper, Dec. 14, 2012. She was 7 lbs. 12 oz. and 20 inches with a head full of hair. Lydia Phillips Bru ‘ 09 and Robbie Bru proudly announce their second child, Claire Marie, born Feb. 6, 2013. She was 8 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 inches. Claire has an older sister, Paige Elizabeth, 5. Jill Puckett Aldridge ’02 and Ryan Aldridge welcomed their third child, Mary Ellis, March 5, 2013. She was 8 lbs. 3 oz. Mary Ellis has two older brothers, Bradley, 5, and Luke, 4. Tara Arneman Serrano ‘07 and Anthony Serrano proudly announce the birth of their first child, Emma Danielle, March 21, 2013, at 12:39 a.m. She was 7 lbs. 15 oz. and 20 1/4 inches. Mary Grace Kimsey Richter ’09 and Ben Richter welcomed their first child, Eisley Kate, June 4, 2013, at 1:47 a.m. She was 6 lbs. 5 oz. and 19 inches.

We want to hear from our Alumni! Laura Lovelady Jordan ’10 and Hamilton Jordan proudly announce the birth of their son, Hobbs Kennedy, July 17, 2013, at 3:24 p.m. He was 7 lbs. 2 oz. and 20 inches. Brad Hobbs ’10 and Lauren Hobbs welcomed their first child, Kinley Brooke, Aug. 3, 2013, at 7:02 a.m. She was 8.5 lbs. and 22 inches. Maryann Bruns Dean ‘04 and Kevin Dean welcomed the birth of their daughter, Charli Ann, Aug. 5, 2013 at 7:58 a.m. She was 7.9 lbs. and 21 inches. Charli Ann was also welcomed by her big brother, Tyson, 2. Jessica Benton McKay ’10 and Jason McKay announce the birth of their first child, Owen Myles, Aug. 9, 2013. He was 7 lbs. 14 oz. and 20 inches.

Marriages Mary Carlisle Wiley ’09 married John Wiley on April 13, 2013. They live in Brentwood, TN.

Danielle Greer Riley ’13 married Ben Riley on May 18, 2013. They live in Semmes, AL. Danielle is an administrative assistant of academic affairs and graduate programs at the university.

Jake Knappenberger ’13 and Carly McKeithen Knappenberger ’13 married on June 15, 2013. They live in Mobile, AL. Jayme Snellgrove ‘12 and Morgan White Snellgrove ’12 married on June 16, 2013. They live in Daphne, AL. Jayme is an admissions counselor at the university. Kris McAuley ‘12 and Paige McCauley McAuley ’12 married on June 21, 2013. They live in Mobile, AL. Kris is a campus life coordinator of residential life at the university. Greg Johnson ‘10 and Ashley Lachappelle Johnson ’13 married on June 29, 2013. They live Austin, TX. Hilary Lovelady Gunn ’13 married Peyton Gunn on July 7, 2012. They live in Mobile, AL.

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 umobilemagazine@; 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_____________________ UMobile Graduation Year____________ Major____________________________ Degree Earned_ ___________________ Home Address ________________________________ City_ ____________________________ State_ _______ Zip_________________ Country__________________________ Home Phone______________________ Cell Phone________________________ Email Address ________________________________ Employment Information: Company_ _______________________ Title_____________________________ Address__________________________ ________________________________

Ashley Shelton Mason ’13 and Weston Mason ‘13 married on July 13, 2012. They live in Selma, AL.

Work Phone_ _____________________ Other Information: _________________ ________________________________ ________________________________

Jimmy Fisher ’11 and Lauren Holloway Fisher class of 2014 married on July 20, 2013. They live in Mobile, AL.

Adam Morris ’11 and Nicole Hill Morris ’13 married on Aug. 3, 2013. They live in New Orleans, LA.

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

86 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

University of Mobile Office of Institutional Advancement

Brian Boyle Vice President for Institutional Advancement 251.442.2497

Claude Bumpers Development Officer for Business and Government Relations 251.442.2587


Bill Hart Senior Development Officer, Charitable Estate Planning 251.442.2223

Hali Givens Director of Development for Special Projects 251.442.2212

Tonya Gollotte Director of Annual Giving 251.442.2917

Allison Nelson Director of Alumni Relations 251.442.2945

Robert Bartlett Development Officer for Community and Foundation Relations 251.442.2286 87

5735 College Parkway Mobile, Alabama 36613

88 University of Mobile Magazine | FALL 2013

UofM Magazine Fall 2013 Issue  

University of Mobile Magazine Fall 2013 Issue