Dear UM,

I remember the day vividly. It was the summer before my junior year of high school, and I visited you for the first time. When I stepped out of the car, your campus immediately felt like home.

– Molly Grace Watkins, Junior, Communication

I remember whispering to my mom along the way, “I feel like this is the place God has called me to be.”

– Jabraun Bass, Senior, MBA/Finance

I know that I will never forget all the memories I have made here.

– Joshua Naqvi, Junior, Philosophy

If you wrote a letter to the University ofMobile, what would it say?

You might say, like U.S. Army Chaplain Corps Lt. Col. Jim Fisher ’94, that relationships built during the college years with students, faculty and staff are important for the future, because you will need each other in the various seasons of life:

“The stable and reliable foundation of UM will be a stronghold of calling and integrity for the rest of your life. Honor it, protect it, and cherish it. One day, you may well send your children. Two of our three are UM grads!”

You could start your letter by sharing a funny story, like the one 2002 graduates Matt Wilson and Josh Jones tell about the time they put a toilet on top of the university’s iconic fountain.

Or the one Dr. Bruce Chesser ’78 shares, when “cricketing” got out of hand and students competed to see how many crickets they could purchase from bait shops and release into a dorm room. (He says the first incident involved 1,000 crickets.)

Maybe you would talk about the intentionality of being part of a gospel-focused university, like alumnus and Grace Pilot School of Business Associate Professor of Accounting Rusty Roberts ’96 says:

“From the time a student arrives on campus to the day they leave as a graduate, all aspects of campus life are saturated with a focus on Jesus Christ. No one leaves UM having not been introduced to the gospel.”

As one who has helped tell the story of the University of Mobile for the past 30 years, I have a few ideas to help you get started on your own “Dear University of Mobile” letter.

Why Your Story Matters

In 2011 we celebrated the university’s golden anniversary with a story in the TorchLight magazine that looked back over the first five decades. As history professor (and UM president) Dr. Lonnie Burnett ’79 will tell you, history isn’t about a list of dates and events. History is about people.

The article titled “Rekindle Your Heart” – a phrase taken from the preface to the 1964 Rampage yearbook – put it this way:

To know the University of Mobile, to truly understand this great college, requires looking beyond lists of dates or buildings constructed or academic programs offered. Look, instead, to the people. Each student who set foot on this campus is linked through the years, one to another, by a shared history of place. Their stories are individual brushstrokes that paint a larger portrait of a great university where lives are changed and spirits rekindled.

Over three decades managing university communications in the Office for Marketing & Public Relations, I have had the privilege of collecting many of your stories. They are printed in TorchLight magazines, stored in university archives, sprinkled across our website, highlighted in recruiting brochures, celebrated in donor newsletters, and filed away in my memory.

What I have learned from your stories comes down to this:

God uses the University of Mobile to change lives and further His Kingdom.

How Are You Furthering His Kingdom?

A few weeks ago, senior communication major Anna Wiggins started an internship in our office. She asked the best question I have ever been asked, and it wasn’t about how to write a press release or who our target audiences are or what will she learn in her internship that can help her get a job.

She asked: “How does your job have Kingdom impact?”

It’s a question that goes straight to the heart of why the University of Mobile exists. It speaks to the calling God has for each person whose life has intersected in some way with this special place.

It started me thinking about all the people I have spoken with over the years and the stories they have shared – the ones I have helped tell – of how God has used the University of Mobile to impact their lives and further His Kingdom.

They are wonderful stories of lessons learned, challenges overcome, mentors who made a difference, faith strengthened, callings pursued and purposes discovered.

But there are so many stories still to be told – stories that matter.

What is Your Story?

Have you told your own University of Mobile story yet?

What are the experiences that shaped you, the times that inspired you, the people who made a difference? How did you grow in knowledge, in faith, in relationships during your time at UM? What lessons did you learn here that you continue to carry throughout your life?

You have a story to tell, and we want to hear it.

Go to, click on “Share Your Story” and write your own “Dear UM” letter.

Because the story of how you are using your University of Mobile experience to further His Kingdom is a story with eternal significance.

It’s a story worth sharing.

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.