A few months after Lonnie Burnett was named the 5th president of the University of Mobile in November 2019, his administration faced an unprecedented challenge. A worldwide pandemic would change the way universities operate and, ultimately, cause many higher education institutions to close their doors.
But the University of Mobile did more than simply weather the storm. The Christ-centered university quickly adjusted to the new reality, reevaluated business models and practices, reduced expenses, added academic programs, completed new construction and major facility renovations, developed new corporate partnerships and strengthened its vision of “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose.”
Today, the University of Mobile board of trustees recognized Burnett’s leadership and voted unanimously to extend his contract through 2026, with an automatic one-year renewal each year thereafter. Burnett’s original five-year contract was set to expire in 2024.
“We are thrilled with what has been accomplished at the University of Mobile over the past three years,” said Terry Harbin, chair of the UM board of trustees. “Despite the turmoil across the world, the University of Mobile has been a place of great stability and growth. We look forward to all the university will accomplish in the years ahead under the leadership of Dr. Lonnie Burnett.”
‘Humbled and grateful’
UM President Burnett said, “I am both humbled by and grateful for the confidence the board has placed in me. I look forward to laboring together as we educate and mentor.”
Burnett became the university’s 5th president in November 2019, after serving six months as interim. The 1979 graduate of then-Mobile College had a 25-year career teaching history in the Mobile County Public School system and has since served the university for 18 years as a professor, dean and administrator.
Burnett said the challenges of the past few years have only strengthened his two core beliefs about the University of Mobile.
“First, I felt like the people at the university were our greatest asset and, second, our God was faithful. At the end of this three-year period as the president of the University of Mobile, I am more certain of those beliefs than ever.
‘True to the mission’
“Our people have gone above the call of duty to ensure that the university stays true to, and accomplishes, the mission. Likewise, God – unsurprised and unfazed by any of the disruptions – showed us new mercies each morning.
“I am excited about the next three years and beyond,” Burnett said.
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university with a vision of “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose,” founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions in an environment where they are known.