‘We Prepare Track-Layers for a Nation’

How do you turn a moving train? What if that train is the American culture and the track is unstable, the foundation has eroded, and all the people you love are aboard? Is the only outcome a horrible train wreck?

That was the scenario posed by University of Mobile President Dr. Mark Foley as he addressed more than 1,200 UMobile supporters at the 10th annual Leadership Banquet on April 30.

The answer, he said, lies in the mission and purpose of the University of Mobile.

“You can gather a group of clear-thinking, committed, talented people; move well out in front of the train; repair the eroded foundation; and lay new track that gently leads the train in a new direction,” Foley said.

“We prepare track-layers for a nation – men and women who have mastered a body of knowledge according to the degree they seek; who know what they believe and why they believe it; who possess the willingness and the skill to use their influence in appropriate and effective ways to change the world in which they live and work – track-layers,” he said.

‘We Will Serve the Lord’

Foley said it is an interesting time in American history.“Whether viewed from the perspective of economics or social policy or international engagement or spiritual condition, we have moved to a critical pivot point upon which our nation will turn for better or worse,” he said.

He asked:
• What is it in which you believe?
• What is it to which you hold so tightly that you will not be shaken from it?
• What is it that you seek so desperately that you will sacrifice anything to hold it?

“I think that when a great nation arrives at a point such as that we now face, a point upon which the matter of greatness swings in the wind, these are the kinds of questions we must ask ourselves,” he said.

He answered the question for himself and his wife, Marilyn, with a borrowed phrase:

“As for us and our house – as for the university for which I hold responsibility – we will serve the Lord, and we will seek to expand the influence of God in this land by any and every means possible.

“For there is no greatness apart from that.”The president thanked the audience for joining with the university in providing a portion of the more than $10 million in university-funded financial aid awarded to UMobile students each year. Each scholarship makes a significant impact in the life of a student.

“There are 1,600 students at the University of Mobile, and there are 1,600 stories. Some of those stories would move you beyond words,” he said.

Honoring the Track-Layers
To mark the 10th anniversary of the annual fundraiser, Foley presented awards to students selected by professors in their academic areas Criteria included demonstrated responsibility to God and others, and a self-sacrificing spirit; leadership and academic achievement.

The top leadership award, the Dr. Ben Carson Leadership Award, was presented to Kaysie Meacham, a junior in the School of Education double majoring in elementary and early childhood education. Meacham received a $5,000 award from the university.

“Kaysie has a heart for helping others,” wrote UMobile education professor Dr. Sue Gober in her nomination. Kaysie has worked as an emergency medical responder for Atmore Ambulance while attending school full time, has taught English as a Second Language through the Mobile Baptist Association, served on three mission trips with UMobile teams, and with husband Alex is working with the non-profit Hope of the Nations ministry with a goal of starting churches for 66 nationalities in the Mobile area.

Presidential Leadership Award winners received $1,000 awards. Award recipients are:

John T. “Tad” Borowski, nominated by the School of Business. A junior double majoring in music and accounting who plans to pursue a Master of Business Administration, Tad creates opportunities for ministry through his music and the business world, such as starting Zero Hour Entertainment for event planning and entertainment booking with Christian musicians.

Richard DeShields, nominated by Adult and Professional Studies. Richard is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration while raising a family, working a full-time job in a management position, and starting a new church, Victory in the Word Ministry. Richard served with the United States Army for six years.

Abbie George, nominated by the School of Worship Leadership. Abbie is a freshman double majoring in English and worship leadership with a concentration in church ministry. In addition to being involved in the Honors Program, Abbie was a featured soloist in the university’s Christmas Spectacular concert and the school’s 8Eighty Records live worship recording, and has an original song featured on the latest song writers’ project by 8Eighty Records.

Tinsley Griffin, nominated by the College of Arts and Sciences. A junior political science major, Tinsley is incoming SGA vice president, was instrumental in forming the Mock Trial Club, and helps lead events in the Honors Program. She has won awards for her role as attorney at the American Mock Trial Association tournament two consecutive years.

Nathanael Hicks, nominated by the School of Music. Nathanael is a freshman pursuing a Bachelor of Music in voice. He was selected to be a young artist with Mobile Opera and sang in both of their full productions, along with other concerts. He has had significant roles in university concerts and opera productions, and was a featured soloist in the school’s recent production of “Saviour.”

Austin Lovette, nominated by the School of Christian Ministries. A junior theology major, Austin volunteers between 20-30 hours per week at Chickasaw High School where he helps at-risk teenagers with transportation, tutoring and encouragement. He is team leader for the SCM Chickasaw Outreach Team and started a Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter at Chickasaw High School that averages over 50 students per week in attendance.

Courtney Rhinehart, nominated by the School of Nursing. Courtney is a junior in her first year of clinical nursing courses. She is an officer in the student nursing association and is involved in student government. She works three jobs during the summer, and volunteers at local recreational parks and schools.

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.