Ignite Your Why

Kathy Dean Experience, Spring 2019

Understanding ‘Why’

What is your “why?”

It’s a question that businesses started asking of themselves in 2009, when author Simon Sinek wrote the bestselling book “Start With Why.” The idea, in essence, is that very few people or organizations know why they do what they do – instead, they are focused on what they do or how they do it.

The organizations that focus on understanding their purpose – their core beliefs – and can clearly articulate their “why,” are the organizations that will capture the hearts of people who share those beliefs. They inspire. They thrive. They make a difference.

“There has to be a purpose for why your company exists, beyond the things you make, beyond the things you do…” Sinek said in one of many TED Talks viewed by millions. Most organizations are satisfied with saying what they do, and how they are different or better than what others do. That’s not enough, he argues.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” Sinek said. It’s that ability to clearly communicate their “why” that has made

companies like Apple and Amazon so successful. If “why” is so important for secular businesses, it is even more crucial for a Christ-centered university where helping students discover their own “why” has eternal significance, both for themselves and for the world.

It might seem obvious that a university’s purpose is to educate people.

But University of Mobile’s purpose goes far beyond simply providing an education. The truth is, there are many colleges and universities that provide an education.

University of Mobile addresses a cause, by providing society with intellectually prepared graduates that serve the world through a Christian worldview.

As a university, our “why” is in our mission statement:

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

Our WHY is preparing graduates to fulfill their professional calling.

Our HOW is through intellectual and spiritual development.

Our WHAT are the liberal arts and professional programs we provide.

Understanding our “why” undergirds and empowers our efforts and energies. 

With understanding comes action.

By its very nature, a university is a place where professors and students are predisposed to thinking deeply, to considering new ways of looking at ideas that are hard to define. “Ignite the Why” was the first step – a year-long internal campaign to define and create a culture where people take the time to think about the university’s purpose, it’s why. 

Now, “Ignite Your Why” makes the campaign personal to share stories of how the University of Mobile culture – founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ – is transforming the world. The aim goes beyond simply drawing attention to the impact University of Mobile has through graduates who are fulfilling their professional purpose.

It’s to spark a deeper understanding of why we do what we do, both for our university and, on a personal level, for ourselves. As alumni. As donors. As trustees and supporters. As faculty and staff. As the University of Mobile family. Because when higher education has a higher purpose – a Great Commission calling – something special happens.


It happens every day.

It’s in the time a student gives to serve the community.

It’s in the generosity of a donor that changes a life through scholarships.

It’s in the friendship of a professor who encourages a student to achieve the impossible.

It’s in the way alumni fulfill their professional calling as the hands and feet of Christ.

It’s not just what you do every day that distinctively transforms the world.

It’s why you do it.

Ignite Your Why.


About the Author
Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean

Kathy is an award-winning media relations director and former journalist whose expertise has enabled the University of Mobile to gain national and regional attention. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Auburn University and worked as a journalist for 12 years, including 10 years at the Mobile Press-Register, earning regional and national awards for coverage of education, deadline reporting and feature writing. She joined the University of Mobile staff in 1993, earning awards for writing and public relations including the Baptist Communicators Association grand prize for feature writing in 2015 and 2012. She is a charter member of Providence United Methodist Church, serves on the board of the John Will Scholarship Foundation, and is a member of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Baptist Communicators Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. Kathy lives in Daphne with her husband, Chuck, who earned his M.B.A. from the University of Mobile. They have two children and two grandchildren.