Fulfilling Dreams

George W. and Patricia H. Dorsett Endowed Scholarship

There was a time when a woman could not be married and also be in nursing school.

In 1949, Patricia Holliday was about to step on the bus to Rochester, Minnesota, to enroll in nursing school at the Mayo Clinic. In the last hour before she was to begin her journey, she realized her real dream was to have a life with George Dorsett. So she took a step in a different direction and married the love of her life.

The beauty of Pat Dorsett’s story isn’t just that she eventually got to have it all – marriage, family and nursing career. It’s that she and husband George made it possible for University of Mobile students to pursue their own dreams, as well.

When Pat died at the age of 89 on Oct. 18, 2019, surrounded by family, she left a legacy to inspire future generations through the George W. and Patricia H. Dorsett Endowed Scholarship at the University of Mobile.

In addition, through estate planning, she bequeathed a $100,000 life insurance policy to the university that will transform Weaver Auditorium into a state-of-the-art, technology-rich classroom and conference venue.

“Pat Dorsett represents the very best of who we are as University of Mobile alumni,” said Brian Boyle ’94 & ’15, executive director of the University of Mobile Foundation in the Office for Advancement. “She had a spirit of giving back throughout her life – in the community through her nursing career, and in remembering her alma mater and caring for future students.”

Never Give Up

Pat’s decision to forego nursing school was merely a delay. Several years and two children later, she was admitted to the University Hospital School of Nursing in Birmingham as a married student with children, graduated in 1957, and took her first job as a registered nurse. Over the next 30 years or so, with two more children, a move to Mobile,

Alabama, and a career as a nursing instructor in a licensed practical nursing program, Pat’s dream continued to grow.

As nursing evolved and the Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing became the standard, Pat set her sights on achieving the degree. The University of Mobile, then Mobile College, offered her the best opportunity to pursue this next dream while working full time and continuing to fulfill her role as wife and mother of now four children.

She graduated in 1981 with a B.S.N. from Mobile College. She went on to receive her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and retired in 1992 after 30 years as a nurse educator.

Deep Devotion

“Having cherished and appreciated the opportunities presented to her by Mobile College to further her career in nursing, Mother developed a deep devotion to the university,” family members said.

Pat and George wanted to help future University of Mobile students pursue their own dreams. They hoped to provide a significant gift to make a significant impact – George mentioned $100,000. They were not wealthy – they were raising four children on a modest income. They didn’t know how they would do it – but they had the dream.

After George’s death in 1997, Pat used $25,000 she had saved to establish the George W. and Patricia H. Dorsett Endowed Scholarship that would provide scholarships for undergraduate students pursuing degrees in nursing or religion and, later, business.

As she grew older and her life slowed somewhat, Pat became less and less interested in things for herself and more interested in things for the future – for all of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, of course – but also for students at the University of Mobile who would pursue their dreams to become nurses, pastors and business leaders.

She urged family members to make donations to the scholarship fund instead of buying gifts for her birthday, Mother’s Day or Christmas. That frequent and faithful giving over a long period of time added up. The principle in the endowed scholarship grew, was invested and managed, and an ever greater portion of the earned interest was spun off to provide scholarships.

“We all recognized how important this was to her, and we genuinely wanted to please her by doing as she asked. We also recognized that we were contributing to the legacy that she and our Dad had begun,” the family said.

A life insurance policy with the university as beneficiary made George’s and Pat’s dream of a $100,000 gift a reality upon Pat’s death.

Pat was recognized at a Board of Trustee meeting on October 23, 2014, as the single largest lifetime alumni donor.

Invested in UM

The George W. and Patricia H. Dorsett Endowed Scholarship and recent $100,000 bequest are just some of many ways the Dorsett family invested in the university. At the request of then-UM President Mark Foley, Pat served three terms – 12 years – on the Board of Trustees. She considered it one of the great honors and privileges of her life.

Pat received several awards from the university over the years, including the World-Changer Award, Alumni Award for outstanding achievement in health care, Door Opener Award for fundraising efforts, and Alumni Council service award for her leadership as a vice chairman.

The Dorsett family embraced the university. Son Martin Dorsett served on the UM Board of

Trustees and as a member of the UM Business and Finance Committee. Currently, he is associate for daily church ministry at Luke 4:18 Fellowship in Mobile, where Pat had been a member, in addition to the couple’s longtime involvement with Cottage Hill Baptist. Another son, Dr. Wayne Dorsett ’76, serves in interim pastor roles for the Georgia Baptist Convention while serving also in Africa, teaching and training pastors through Wayne

Dorsett Ministries. Two grandchildren hold degrees from UM: Erin Dorsett Vaughn ’00, a mental health counselor with LifeVesting International in Mobile, and Ross Dorsett ’17, the volunteer coordinator for the Jerry Carl for Congress campaign.

The dreams that Pat and George shared live on through the lives of University of Mobile students.

“It is truly amazing that they had a vision and pursued their dream of establishing a scholarship that will live on well beyond their own lives for students they will never even know,” family members said.

President Emeritus Foley said when he thinks of encouragement and care, “I think immediately of my friend Pat Dorsett. Her smile seemed constant, and there were many days that smile and her words of encouragement were just enough to push through a thorny issue. I will always be grateful for Pat and the friendship she so wonderfully shared.”

The Office for Advancement can help you maximize your giving through a life insurance policy or other estate planning tools. Contact Brian Boyle at 251.442.2287 or bboyle@umobile.edu, or visit the website at giving.umobile.edu.

About the Author

Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean uses her passion for storytelling and "playing with words" to share the stories of people, place and purpose that make the University of Mobile unique. As associate vice president for university communications, she manages media relations, edits the TorchLight alumni magazine, and oversees university communications. A former award-winning journalist, she is a two-time recipient of the Baptist Communicators Association grand prize for feature writing. Kathy and her husband, Chuck, live with three extremely loud miniature schnauzers.