UM Alumnus Ira Bates Jr. Named 2023 Samuel Boykin Medal of Excellence Recipient 

Kathy DeanNews


MOBILE, Ala. – The University of Mobile honors 2004 alumnus Ira Bates Jr., vice president –community development officer for The First Bank, with the Samuel Boykin Medal of Excellence.

The Samuel Boykin Medal of Excellence was established in 2019 to honor the life of the late Samuel M. Boykin, the first African American graduate of the University of Mobile. The award recognizes outstanding African American graduates of UM who reflect the ideals of virtuosity, faith and charity that Boykin exemplified throughout his career, family and community.

“I am humbled and extremely honored to receive such a prestigious award,” said Bates. “It is a testament to the Most High’s grace, mercy and sovereignty over my life. As a proud graduate of the University of Mobile, that happens to be African American, it means a lot to me to represent my faith, family and university in a positive manner as well as being a role model to other young African American men to pursue greatness.”

Bates, a first-generation graduate, received his undergraduate degree in business administration in 2004 from the University of Mobile. In 2019, he continued his education by earning a degree in banking, corporate, finance, and securities law from the Alabama Banking School. 

Bates is a member of the President’s Advisory Council at the University of Mobile. He serves the local community through a variety of non-profit organizations including United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Housing First, Victory Health Partners, Foley Housing Authority, Africatown Redevelopment Corporation, Junior Achievement, Goodwill Gulf Coast, Ella Grant Elementary Mentors, Toastmasters International and Greater Gulf State Fair. 

Haley Ikner Haney, director of alumni relations, said, “Ira exemplifies not only the characteristics that make the Boykin Award special, but also those of the university. Ira’s story of being a non-traditional, first-generation college student resonates with many of our current students and alumni. Ira is a deserving recipient of this award and leaves a legacy for many others to follow.”

Bates will receive the award on April 1 at the annual Alumni Brunch held at the university. Tickets for the brunch are $10 per person. The brunch will be followed by an Alumni Easter Egg Hunt for children of alumni. To RSVP for the Alumni Brunch or to register children ages 10 and under for the Alumni Easter Egg Hunt, or for more information, visit or contact the alumni office at 251.442.2226.

About the University of Mobile

The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered liberal arts and sciences institution with a vision of higher education for a higher purpose, founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions through rigorous academic preparation and spiritual transformation. Core values are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. The university offers on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.

For information about the University of Mobile, areas of study, admissions and more, visit, connect with UM on social media @univofmobile, or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.