The University of Mobile is an American four-year, private, Baptist-affiliated university in Prichard, Alabama. The master's-level university has an enrollment of 1,577.
The Alabama Baptist organization first expressed interest in establishing a Baptist college in Mobile in 1946. At that time the organization was considering combining the already established schools of Howard College (Now Samford University) and Judson College and move the newly formed school to Mobile. The proposal was unsuccessful, but the concept of establishing a Baptist affiliated school in the Mobile area persisted.
In 1957 the Alabama Baptist State Convention was formally asked to study the possibility of establishing a junior college in Mobile. In 1959 the convention agreed to the proposal if $1.5 million could be raised by the community. A year later $2 million had been raised by local churches and businesses. Sylacauga Baptist Church pastor William K. Weaver Jr. was elected as the founding president after serving on the convention's study committee. The Alabama Baptist convention approved the establishment of Mobile College on November 14, 1961 and was granted state recognition less than a month later by Governor John Patterson.
Mobile businessman Jay P. Altmayer donated 200 acres in north Mobile as the site for the newly established college. Ray Loper of Loper Lumber Company donated another 50 acres (200,000 m2) along the Chickasabogue Creek. Other purchases brought the land total to 400 acres (1.6 km2). Today the University campus encompasses 880 acres (3.6 km2).
Weaver remained president until his retirement in 1984. During his tenure Mobile College grew to include two residence halls, a dining hall, a gymnasium, a library, a fine arts academic building, residence cottages, tennis courts, and an outdoor swimming pool.
Michael A. Magnoli, a member of the college's first graduating class, succeeded Weaver as president in 1984. One of Magnoli's first acts as president was to establish the school's athletic program. Under Magnoli the campus continued to grow, adding an additional residence hall and new classroom buildings. Magnoli also oversaw the relocation of the St. Stephens Baptist Church to the campus in 1987. The church was renamed Lyon Chapel in honor of former trustee Willie Mae Lewis Lyon and was an acknowledgment of the commitment of the Alabama Baptists to the establishment and continued support of the college.
On July 1, 1993, Mobile College became the University of Mobile to better reflect the growth in programs and facilities. To add an international component to the university and expand its academic programs the university opened the Latin American Branch Campus in San Marcos, Nicaragua in the fall of 1993. The expansion plan would eventually inflict a serious strain on the university's financial status. In March 1997 Magnoli sent a memo to board members outlining the financial situation of the university and reported that the school will have a $1.5 million cash flow shortfall by the end of the fiscal year. Adding to the problem was the university's lines of credit with two area banks, totaling $2 million. A month later, after a 4-hour meeting with the university trustees, Magnoli's tenure at the University of Mobile had ended despite having 2 years left on his contract. A few unnamed board members told the Mobile Press-Register that the university was now facing a $4 million cash flow shortage heading into the coming months. In October 1999 Magnoli was convicted of falsifying his 1993 federal income tax returns. Magnoli had declared that he had $15,000 on his person when arriving at New Orleans airport in 1993. He told officials his occupation and claimed that the money belonged to the university. Investigators uncovered that the school had no knowledge of the money and that Magnoli had used the cash as a down payment for a home on Ono Island.
On February 13, 1998, the Board of Trustees appointed Mark Foley, former executive vice-president of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, as president of the university. Shortly after being appointed, Foley told board members that "any operation related to the University of Mobile under my administration will operate in the black or it will not operate." Two months later, the Nicaragua campus was sold to Tom Monaghan, founder of the Domino's Pizza chain, and was renamed the Ave Maria College of the Americas. Foley came under fire in August 1998 for his new hiring policy which stated that the university will only hire Christian faculty members. This drew criticism from members of the Jewish community including long-time donor Gordon Kahn, who asked for his name to be removed from the scholarships and foundations he had donated. Foley contested that for the university to carry out its faith-based mission it must have full support and understanding from all of its faculty members.
The University of Mobile is governed by a board of trustees. Members are recommended by the president of the university, reviewed by the Committee on Boards at the Alabama Baptist State Convention, and appointed by the Alabama Baptist State Convention. Elected trustees serve 4-year terms with reelection possible up to a maximum of 12 continuous years, after which an individual must be off the board for at least one year before becoming eligible to return. Life trustees must have held an elected position on the board for 20 years and may then be presented by the president for election to the life position. As of April 2008, the university had 33 elected trustees and four life trustees.
Dr. Dwight Steedly is the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences with Dr. Ted Mashburn currently holding the title of Associate Dean. The college offers degrees in arts, history, political science, psychology, sociology, social science, biology, environmental management, marine science, mathematics, English, humanities, and communication. The University of Mobile has also established engineering partnership programs with Auburn University and the University of South Alabama by which students may receive a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mobile and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the participating university.
Dr. Jane Finley is the Dean of the School of Business which offers fields of study in accounting, business administration (with concentrations in finance, global business, management, and marketing), and computer information systems. The school also offers a master's degree in business administration.
A Bachelor of Arts or Science in Theology is available from the School of Christian Studies. Dr. Cecil Taylor is the current Dean.
Dr. Peter Kingsford is the current Dean for the school of education which offers degrees in early childhood education and elementary education as well as secondary certification for biology, history, mathematics, language arts, social sciences, and human performance and exercise science. A degree in athletic training is also available.
The school of nursing offers associates and bachelors degrees in nursing. The school also offers a Master of Science in nursing. Dr. Jan Wood is the current dean.
The Performing Arts division is chaired by Al Miller and offers fields of study in music, theater,and worship leadership.
The University of Mobile has 1,577 students from thirty states and twenty-four nations. Overall, sixty-five percent of the students enrolled are from the Mobile area or surrounding counties while seventeen percent are from other areas in Alabama. Forty percent of the student body reside on campus. Sixty-five percent of the students are Southern Baptist
At its inception, Mobile College was entirely a commuter school until the first residence halls, Arendall and Bedsole Hall, were completed. Along with Arendall and Bedsole, President William Weaver also oversaw the addition of housing cottages named Avery Woods. President Magnoli organized the addition of the university's fourth student housing unit, the 3-storied Ingram Hall. Under President Foley the university has expanded to include Samford Hall and Faulkner Hall.
There are several media outlines at the University of Mobile:
U. of Mobile teams, nicknamed athletically as the Rams, are part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC). The Rams formerly competed in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.
The university colors are maroon and white, and a ram is the mascot. The school's intercollegiate program began in 1985 as one of the first acts of the newly appointed President Magnoli. The university has won championships in men's tennis in 1993; women's tennis (1994); men's golf, men's tennis, and women's soccer in 1997; women's golf (1998); men's soccer (2002); and women's softball (2006).