University of Mobile Focus on ‘Prac-ademics’ Inspires $4.6 Million Renovation for ‘Living Laboratory’ Healthcare, Science Learning Center

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MOBILE, Ala. – University of Mobile has a new approach to teaching college courses called “Prac-ademics” that expands traditional classroom learning into “living laboratories” where students have practice learning experiences to enrich the learning process. When classes begin Aug. 20, it will be with a new $4.6 million renovation that creates a “living laboratory” in the College of Health Professions – a state-of-the-art healthcare and science learning center.

Plus, the university has added 19 bachelor’s degrees and is enrolling students in its first doctoral degrees, the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Doctor of Musical Arts.

The new center now under construction includes an augmented reality human patient simulation laboratory, where special glasses give students the ability to view a virtual 3-D model of the circulatory system and walk around the room to see it from different angles. Other simulation labs use high-fidelity patient simulators that can be programmed to replicate scenarios students will encounter in a hospital, from a heart attack to birthing a baby. High-tech science labs in the College of Arts and Sciences give students across all academic areas access to cutting-edge equipment and learning experiences.

The project involves gutting two of the three floors of Weaver Hall, the university’s signature building on campus, and creating spaces such as an operating room and anatomical laboratory, while bringing in the newest technology for healthcare and science education.

University of Mobile President Tim Smith said today’s college students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the theories they learn in the classroom to real-world settings while they are still in school, instead of waiting until they land their first job.

So the university is creating “living laboratories” like the new healthcare and science labs in the College of Health Professions and a new student-run marketing and advertising agency  in the School of Business. The project expands on living laboratories already on campus, such as the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts that gives music, theatre and worship leadership students practical experiences traveling and performing in front of audiences.

“The old model of a professor lecturing in front of a classroom all semester just isn’t relevant to today’s students,” Smith said. “Students want to be in the classroom to pick up the theory in the professional discipline, but once that theory is learned from the textbook or from the professor, they will move to application and hands-on, where they can learn auditorily, visually and tactily.”

The shift toward innovative teaching methods began two years ago when Smith arrived as the university’s 4th president. Since then, the university has rebranded, expanded the academic program, and moved to a four-day academic week with Focus Fridays for relaxation, study, missions and service projects, or internships.

Smith said the changing methods are just part of what makes learning innovative at University of Mobile.

“As a Christian university, we deliver an education that goes far beyond simply providing the knowledge and skillset needed for a job. We provide ‘Higher Education for a Higher Purpose’ that integrates faith and learning for the purpose of fulfilling one’s professional calling,” Smith said.

Applications are being accepted for fall enrollment in the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs. Apply at or call Enrollment Services at 251.442.2222.


About University of Mobile

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 and master’s degree programs in over 40 areas of study. Founded in 1961, 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 more information about University of Mobile, visit the website at or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.

About the Author
Kathy Dean

Kathy Dean

Kathy is an award-winning media relations director and former journalist whose expertise has enabled the University of Mobile to gain national and regional attention. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Auburn University and worked as a journalist for 12 years, including 10 years at the Mobile Press-Register, earning regional and national awards for coverage of education, deadline reporting and feature writing. She joined the University of Mobile staff in 1993, earning awards for writing and public relations including the Baptist Communicators Association grand prize for feature writing in 2015 and 2012. She is a charter member of Providence United Methodist Church, serves on the board of the John Will Scholarship Foundation, and is a member of the Public Relations Council of Alabama, Baptist Communicators Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. Kathy lives in Daphne with her husband, Chuck, who earned his M.B.A. from the University of Mobile. They have two children and two grandchildren.

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