Gyromas Newman, associate professor of communication at the University of Mobile, not only loves to enrich the minds of the students – he is also an expert in American muscle.
We had the chance to see Newman in his element as he pored over each detail from specific paint colors like “Still Night Blue Pearl” on his 1965 Corvette, to the ProCharger® in his Mustang.
“Diagnosing and fixing a problem, laying down a nice paint job, and hearing a V8 engine that I rebuilt roar to life are all things that make me feel good,” Newman told us.
Newman got his start understanding lawnmowers and weed-eaters in his first job at a small engine repair shop. Then, when he was in college, he worked at a Dean McCrary car dealership and got his first taste of fast cars.
“That was all it took for me to fall in love,” he tells us as he gazes at his stunning black 1976 Chevrolet Corvette L-82.
His love for cars and teaching both require dedication and attention to detail. We asked Dr. Newman to share with us why he loves teaching communication at UM.
Q. What is your background?
A. In 2012 I began teaching at the University of Mobile as a tenure-track assistant professor of communication and head of the communication area and achieved the rank of associate professor in 2017.
I earned a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in communication and philosophy and a minor in German, and a Master of Arts in public and corporate communication from the University of South Alabama.
I then earned my doctorate in communication and information sciences from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Q. You were recently honored by UM for your research.
A. I collaborated with research partners from colleges in Connecticut and Massachusetts to investigate the relationship between the use of social media and narcissistic personality traits.
The research was published last year in “The Pennsylvania Communication Annual” under the title “An Exploration of the Effects of Media Use throughout Development and Adulthood on Narcissism.” I was awarded the 2022 Mitford Ray Megginson Research Award.
Q. Why should someone choose to study Communication at UM?
A. You can graduate with your communication degree and get a decent job without any further study, or you can go on to grad school. You have options, and that’s a strong selling point.
However, the thing I like most about our discipline is communication skills aren’t limited to the media and corporate world. Communication is the key to building quality relationships, and who doesn’t want that?
Q. Why do you choose to teach at UM?
A. Being able to come to work, do a job you enjoy, and be with people you really consider friends isn’t something you find just anywhere. I know from my friends at other universities that our dynamic at UM is more the exception than the rule.
The folks I see every day in the College of Arts and Sciences are the best people you could ever hope to have as colleagues, and the love of Jesus is evident in them by the way they treat each other. And yes, we’ve got some pretty good students too!
Q. What do you do in your free time?
A. I think I’m most known around here as the professor who moonlights as a mechanic and body man for fun. My latest project was restoring my 1965 Chevrolet Corvette L-79.
I particularly enjoy American muscle cars and am a member of a few local car clubs. I was the president of the Northside Cruisers out of Saraland from 2015–2021. Every March, we have a big show at Satsuma High School and raise several thousand dollars for the school system. This last year was the biggest turnout ever.
Another thing I like is cars are brutally honest. It’s not going to run or have its paint lay out smoothly just because it likes you or you’ve sweet-talked it. If you did your job properly, the engine will run, the paint will look good, and so forth. If you didn’t, it won’t. No excuses.
I’m not sure what that says about me other than maybe I like doing things myself and like knowing how things work. And I guess I like being able to go fast, too!
Q. What is the next project you would like to accomplish?
A. What I am really holding out for is a Gen 1 Mustang Fastback – has to be a fastback. I want it to be between the years 1967–1970.
Though my son is only 6 months old right now I want to be able to build this car with him. I want to teach him the trade and share my passion with him. We have some time before he can hold a wrench, so that gives me time to find the car that checks all my boxes. So, yeah, that is my next bucket list project.