UM alum, dean Lonnie Burnett steps into role of president

UM alum, dean Lonnie Burnett steps into role of president

University of Mobile (UM) alumnus Lonnie A. Burnett was named president of the university Nov. 22 after serving six months as interim president.

The UM board of trustees initially appointed Burnett, UM history professor and executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as interim president in May with a term of 16 months.

Board Chairman Fred Wilson said Burnett stepped into that role with vision, energy and a deep love for UM.

“It quickly became obvious there was no ‘interim’ in Dr. Lonnie Burnett’s commitment to lead the university to becoming all that it can be. The board’s action today makes it official. Dr. Burnett is the 5th president of the University of Mobile and we are enthusiastic about the future with his leadership,” Wilson said.

Burnett said the university will build on its strengths — strong academics, a vibrant college community and Christ-centered mentoring to prepare students to pursue their professional calling.

“The University of Mobile is a special place. While we have a beautiful campus with great academic programs and facilities, it is our people who make the University of Mobile unique”, Burnett said. “It’s a place where students are known, educated and mentored by dedicated faculty and staff who ensure they are gaining more than just a degree from college. We truly believe we are advancing ‘Higher Education for a Higher Purpose.’”

Burnett’s past leadership roles include vice provost, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs and president of the Faculty Council.

He graduated in 1979 with a bachelor of arts from UM, then Mobile College. His wife, Lynne, graduated from UM in 1996, and daughter Lauren Burnett Wetzel holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from UM, having graduated in 2009 and 2019. He earned a master of arts from the University of South Alabama and doctor of philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).

Burnett taught regular and honors U.S. history at the high school and middle school levels in the Mobile County Public School System from 1980 to 2004. He joined the UM faculty in 2005, eventually becoming chair of the UM Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, a full professor and gaining tenure in 2012.

He has two books published with the University of Alabama Press and received UM’s Mitford Ray Megginson Research Award in 2006.

Burnett is an active member of Redemption Church in north Mobile. (UM)