President's Commissioning 2020

University of Mobile Grows During Pandemic, Records Highest Enrollment in 5 Years

Kathy Dean News

MOBILE, Ala. – The University of Mobile recorded its highest enrollment in five years for Fall 2020, bucking a nationwide trend of declining college enrollments during a global pandemic.

The Christian university reported a total enrollment of 2,016 for Fall 2020, up from 1,989 in 2019. The increase includes the largest class of graduate students in the school’s history, along with a significant jump in transfer students.

School officials said new academic programs, plus a reputation for personal attention that becomes even more attractive to students and parents during a pandemic, helped spur the growth.

“When you consider that many ‘experts’ were predicting up to 20 percent declines nationwide in fall enrollments, our increase reflects a great amount of hard work and God’s faithfulness,” said UM President Lonnie Burnett.

Charity Wittner, vice president for enrollment and student life, said being a small private university actually helped in enrolling students during a pandemic.

“We can more easily make the necessary adjustments in social distancing, and our small classes with a culture where faculty and staff know and care about their students are a real advantage,” Wittner said.

Fueling the record graduate enrollment of 266 are the Family Nurse Practitioner program in the College of Health Professions; the Master of Arts in Musical Theatre in the Alabama School of the Arts; and the Master of Business Administration and new Master of Science in Leadership and Communication, both in the School of Business. New doctoral programs in the School of Nursing and the Alabama School of the Arts also are bringing in more graduate students. Additional graduate programs are planned, with another expected to start by Fall 2021 in the School of Nursing.

The university expects to continue the enrollment trend with the addition of a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies starting in Fall 2021 and a Master of Athletic Training program launching in Summer 2021.

A breakdown of the 2020 enrollment of 2,016 includes 1,530 undergraduate and graduate students, plus approximately 486 dual enrollment students. (Dual enrollment high school students are continuing to enroll, making it possible that total enrollment for 2020 will increase slightly.) That compares to 2019 enrollment of 1,989 with 1,509 undergraduate and graduate students, plus 480 dual enrollment.

The jump in transfer students from 83 in 2019 to 104 in 2020 reflects continued growth in partnerships with Bishop State Community College and Coastal Alabama Community College, Wittner said.

UM President Burnett said the university’s track record for quickly responding to the pandemic has given parents and students confidence in the school’s ability to act rapidly and decisively in an ever-changing pandemic world.

“Parents appreciated what we did last spring,” Burnett said, noting that the university quickly moved to online delivery of classes when the pandemic gained traction. A campus survey several weeks later showed students overwhelmingly felt faculty and staff were going above and beyond to meet their individual needs and make the change as smooth as possible.

“A university of our size is like a speedboat – because of our size, we have the ability to be nimble, which is more difficult for large universities. Larger schools are like aircraft carriers – they are hard to turn quickly,” Burnett said.

For more information about the University of Mobile, visit or call Enrollment Services at 251.442.2222.

 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 more information about the 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 is associate vice president for university communications and has helped tell the University of Mobile story since 1993. She is an award-winning public relations professional and former journalist. Her husband and daughter are UM graduates. She loves playing in the yard – planting flowers, picking blueberries, pulling weeds and petting her two mini-schnauzers.