University of Mobile alumnus Lonnie A. Burnett, Ph.D., is the university’s fifth president, following his unanimous selection by the Board of Trustees on Nov. 22, 2019.
The longtime history professor and dean was only six months into a 16-month term as interim president when the Board of Trustees made the position permanent.
“It quickly became obvious there was no ‘interim’ in Dr. Lonnie Burnett’s commitment to lead the university to becoming all that it can be. We are enthusiastic about the future with his leadership,” said Board Chairman Fred Wilson.
Burnett said the university will build on its strengths – strong academics, a vibrant college community, and Christ-centered mentoring – to prepare students to pursue their professional calling.
“The University of Mobile is a special place. While we have a beautiful campus with great academic programs and facilities, it is our people who make the University of Mobile unique. It’s a place where students are known, educated and mentored by dedicated faculty and staff who ensure they are gaining more than just a degree from college. We truly believe we are advancing ‘Higher Education for a Higher Purpose,’” Burnett said.
An inauguration ceremony will be held March 27 at 9 a.m. at Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile.
Burnett steps into the presidency after serving most recently as executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. His past leadership roles include vice provost, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, and president of the Faculty Council.
He graduated in 1979 from the University of Mobile, then Mobile College, with a Bachelor of Arts. His wife, Lynne, graduated from UM in 1996, and daughter Lauren Burnett Wetzel holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, having graduated in 2009 and 2019. He earned a Master of Arts from the University of South Alabama and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi.
He taught regular and honors U.S. history at the high school and middle school levels in the Mobile County Public School System from 1980 to 2004, serving as chairman of the history departments at Semmes Middle and Satsuma High schools.
He taught several years as an adjunct history instructor at UM, retired from the public school system, and focused on his second career as a college professor and author.
Burnett served as visiting assistant professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2002, where he earned a Ph.D. He joined the University of Mobile faculty in 2005, eventually becoming chair of the UM Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, a full professor, and gaining tenure in 2012.
He has two books published with the University of Alabama Press, “Henry Hotze: Confederate Propagandist,” and “The Pen Makes a Good Sword: John Forsyth of the Mobile Register.” He has written numerous articles, book chapters and reviews, and received the university’s Mitford Ray Megginson Research Award in 2006.
Burnett has served in leadership positions or been a member of professional organizations including the Alabama Historical Association, Society of Civil War Historians, and southern Historical Association. He serves as managing editor for “The Alabama Review,” a quarterly journal of Alabama history published by the Alabama Historical Association in cooperation with the University of Mobile.
He has served as a member of the Saraland city School Board since 2010 and was one of five school board members statewide to be named to the 2017 All-State School Board by the Alabama Association of School Boards. He is an active member of Redemption Church in north Mobile.