Retrospect

Kathy Dean Experience, Spring 2020

“Whether or not this College is built depends upon the response of Baptists in this area and upon individuals of other denominations and faiths who desire to help provide a Christian College to educate our fast-growing number of high school students.”
– Mobile College Campaign Fund Brochure

The University of Mobile is built on connections. It started with Baptist leaders in Mobile, spread throughout Baptist churches, and extended into the community and beyond. Today, those connections form a network throughout the world, wherever there are UM alumni pursuing their professional calling for the glory of God.

In 1958, the Alabama Baptist State Convention agreed that if Mobile Baptists could, within two years, successfully complete a financial campaign resulting in cash or pledges of at least $1.5 million, it would be willing to establish and operate in Mobile a Christian college of liberal arts and sciences. A year later, more than $2 million was pledged and the convention agreed to establish and operate Mobile College.

The Book of Remembrance contains the names of 6,413 individuals and 186 businesses that contributed to the original campaign to build Mobile College. Over three-fourths of the $2 million pledged was raised through Baptist churches in Mobile, Baldwin, Clarke and Washington counties.

The Alabama Baptist State Convention elected the first Board of Trustees for the college, and continues to do so. Ex-officio trustees are the president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention and the executive director-treasurer of the Alabama Baptist State Executive Board.

The university’s Baptist heritage is symbolized by Lyon Chapel, located in the heart of campus. Originally built in 1883 as St. Stephens Baptist Church in St. Stephens, Alabama, the chapel was moved to campus and restored in 1988. It is named in honor of Willie Mae Lewis Lyon, a founding trustee. Today, chimes ring out across campus from its bell tower.

There is no greater symbol of the connection between God and man than the cross and the empty tomb. This sculpture, titled “I Am the Vine,” symbolizes Christ’s death on the cross, while the vine symbolizes the eternal life that He passes on through faith in His resurrection. Designed and built in 2009 by former UM president Mark Foley (Now president emeritus) with former trustee Jim Daniel, the 12-foot sculpture set on a hill near Ram Hall is based on John 15:5: “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.”

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.