Photo: Lynne and Lonnie Burnett
I can still remember entering the back door of Weaver Hall on the first day of classes at Mobile College in August of 1976. I was an 18-year old, long-haired freshman ready to set the world on fire. Over the next few years, I came to love the college and, more importantly, the people that would influence me for the rest of my life. I was amazed that a college president would actually come sit in the “snack shop” and talk with us like he was actually interested in our lives. We would hang on the words of Dr. Weaver and try to soak in his wisdom. My first mentor, Dr. Hazel Petersen, taught me the importance of always pursuing excellence, even in the smallest details. Next to an eventual “Well done good and faithful servant,” a word of approval from her was the most treasured acknowledgment.
A 25-year career in public education followed my 1979 graduation. During those years, I drew upon my experiences and relationships from the college. In January of 2005, I was blessed to return to what was now the University of Mobile as an associate professor of history. Over the last 16 years, so many people have been influential. I survived my employment interview with Dr. Mark Foley. Dr. Foley was, and is, the gold standard of class and dignity. I could have no better example for this new role. Dr. Audrey Eubanks exhibited great patience and sometimes tough love. Most importantly, the faculty and staff of this university are unsurpassed. They are the most dedicated servants I have ever seen, and I am humbled that I get to work alongside such as these.
I come in that same back door every day as I walk to the President’s office. There is not a morning that my mind doesn’t go back to 1976. What a journey we have all taken together! Through it all, God has been so very faithful to this institution. We have seen His mercies new each morning. I am blessed and honored to serve as the 5th President of the University of Mobile.