University of Mobile Names Lonnie A. Burnett as 5th President

Kathy Dean News

MOBILE, Ala. – The University of Mobile Board of Trustees announced today that Lonnie A. Burnett, Ph.D., has been named president of the university, after serving six months as interim president.

The board initially appointed Burnett, a UM alumnus, history professor and dean, as interim president in May, with a term of 16 months. Board Chairman Fred Wilson said Burnett stepped into that role with vision, energy and a deep love for the Baptist-affiliated university.

“It quickly became obvious there was no ‘interim’ in Dr. Lonnie Burnett’s commitment to lead the university to becoming all that it can be. The board’s action today makes it official. Dr. Burnett is the 5th president of the University of Mobile, and we are enthusiastic about the future with his leadership,” Wilson said.

Burnett said the university will build on its strengths – strong academics, a vibrant college community, and Christ-centered mentoring to prepare students to pursue their professional calling.

“The University of Mobile is a special place. While we have a beautiful campus with great academic programs and facilities, it is our people who make the University of Mobile unique. It’s a place where students are known, educated and mentored by dedicated faculty and staff who ensure they are gaining more than just a degree from college. We truly believe we are advancing ‘Higher Education for a Higher Purpose,’” Burnett said.

Burnett steps into the presidency after serving most recently as executive dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. His past leadership roles include vice provost, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, and president of the Faculty Council.

Burnett graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mobile, then Mobile College. His wife, Lynne, graduated from UM in 1996, and daughter Lauren Burnett Wetzel holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, having graduated in 2009 and 2019. He earned a Master of Arts from the University of South Alabama and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Southern Mississippi.

He taught regular and honors U.S. history at the high school and middle school levels in the Mobile County Public School System from 1980 to 2004, serving as chairman of the history departments at Semmes Middle and Satsuma High schools. He taught several years as an adjunct history instructor at UM, retired from the public school system, and focused on his second career as a college professor and author.

Burnett served as visiting assistant professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2002, where he earned a Ph.D. He joined the University of Mobile faculty in 2005, eventually becoming chair of the UM Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, a full professor, and gaining tenure in 2012.

He has two books published with the University of Alabama Press, Henry Hotze: Confederate Propagandist, and The Pen Makes a Good Sword: John Forsyth of the Mobile Register.  He has written numerous articles, book chapters and reviews, and received the university’s Mitford Ray Megginson Research Award in 2006.

Burnett has served in leadership positions or been a member of professional organizations including the Alabama Historical Association, Society of Civil War Historians, and southern Historical Association. He serves as managing editor for The Alabama Review, a quarterly journal of Alabama history published by the Alabama Historical Association in cooperation with the University of Mobile.

He has served as a member of the Saraland city School Board since 2010 and was one of five school board members statewide to be named to the 2017 All-State School Board by the Alabama Association of School Boards. He is an active member of Redemption Church in north Mobile.


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 assistant 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.