By Kathy Dean
University of Mobile
When the pandemic forced spring graduation ceremonies across the nation to be cancelled earlier this year, University of Mobile President Lonnie Burnett made a promise to the Class of 2020. They would have their graduation ceremony.
That promise was kept Saturday, Dec. 5, when the Class of 2020 – both spring and fall semester graduates – celebrated commencement under sunny skies at the University of Mobile. A total of 284 graduates were honored, including 92 fall and 192 spring graduates, at the ceremony held in front of Weaver Hall on the Dr. Fred and Sue Lackey Great Commission Lawn. After receiving their diplomas, students participated in the Great Commission Tradition and touched the Great Commission Globe to represent going out into the world to make an impact.
The university presented awards usually announced in the spring, including the Weaver Awards for the top two graduates. The complete list of spring and fall graduates with academic honors and awards is below. Former UM President Mark Foley carried the ceremonial mace and led the procession of faculty and graduating students. Foley served as president of the Christian university for 18 years.
UM alumnus the Rev. Chris Bell, lead pastor of 3Circle Church in Baldwin and Mobile counties, delivered the commencement address. The 2000 graduate said he thought his class was one of the most unique, having graduated during the Millennium with the specter of Y2K and a computer programming shortcut that was expected to cause widespread turmoil as the year changed from 1999 to 2000. While that fear for the year 2000 was never realized, the year 2020 is marked by a worldwide pandemic that has significantly impacted the Class of 2020.
“You win the contest,” Bell said. “This is the most unique of years. I commend you for being here and completing what you began.”
Speaking from the book of Ecclesiastes, Bell said there is a worldview that will lead to emptiness, which King Solomon referenced in the passage “vanity of vanities…all is vanity.”
“You were made for more than that,” Bell said. “This university has taught you that whether you are a nurse, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a musician, or a preacher or a teacher – whatever you do, you are made to do it not just for money or success but to the glory of God.
“And when your viewpoint is that life is not just ‘under the sun’ but it is so much more than that, then you will begin to, as King Solomon says, love what you do. You will take great joy in what you do. It will matter.
“That is the message of the Bible. You were made for more than simply an ‘under the sun’ existence. You are to point to God, and glorify God, in everything that you do,” Bell said.
He added, “The University of Mobile has a mission and it has not changed. I am proud to watch from afar as the university has held fast to its mission – to give you a new lens to see the world, a biblical worldview.”
UM Board of Trustees Chair Fred Wilson presented the Weaver Awards to the top male and female graduates for excellence in exemplifying the mission of the university. Selection is made by a secret vote of the faculty based on scholarship, Christian character, leadership and service.
The William K. Weaver Jr. Excellence Award was presented to Aaron James “A.J.” Nipper. Nipper graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in biology. He also received the President’s Scholastic Achievement Award.
The Annie Boyd Parker Weaver Excellence Award was presented to Erica Burleson Lyn. Lyn graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Music in piano performance. She also received the President’s Scholastic Achievement Award and the Area Award in Piano Performance.
See a complete list of graduates by clicking here.
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