University of Mobile School of Nursing Dean Earns Alabama Nurse Educator Award

Kathy DeanAlumni, Graduate, Health, News

Dr. Sarah Barnes-Witherspoon

MOBILE, Ala. – Dr. Sarah Barnes-Witherspoon, dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Mobile, received the Alabama Nurse Educator Award honoring a career of outstanding accomplishments in the field of nursing education.

 The award was announced during the This is Alabama’s Top Nurses virtual event on Sept. 24. This is Alabama sponsored the event designed to thank and honor Alabama’s top nurses. A panel of healthcare leaders and the Alabama State Nurses Association identified the Top 10 most inspiring nurses across the state, chosen from over 500 nominations from patients, healthcare professionals and nurses.

The Nurse Educator Award was one of three statewide leadership awards presented, including the Nurse Executive Leadership Award and Advocacy in Action Award.

“These are nursing leaders who have inspired positive change in the nursing profession,” said host Eunice Elliot in announcing the awards. The award ceremony can be viewed by clicking here.

Witherspoon began her 46-year career in healthcare as the admission intake nurse at Searcy Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Mount Vernon, Alabama. She went back to school, became an LPN, then got her associate’s degree in nursing. From there, she took her faith in God and compassion for people through the doors of Searcy for 27 years.

Over the years, she served as legal nurse consultant for the State of Alabama for and was also certified as a psychiatric-mental health nurse. A mother and grandmother, too, she graduated at age 60 with her Ph.D. in nursing education and administration from William Carey University while teaching full-time at UM, where she had earned her B.S.N. and M.S.N.

In January 2020, Witherspoon became the first African American dean at her alma mater when she was tapped to lead the School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions at the University of Mobile. She heads up a program that recently expanded to offer doctoral degrees, starting with the Doctor of Nursing Practice, and provides students with new state-of-the-art simulation labs in the Center for Excellence in Healthcare Practice.

Under her leadership, the University of Mobile is educating the next generation of top nurses with programs including the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (traditional, RN to BSN, and accelerated BSN), Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner, Master of Science in Nursing Education, Master of Science in Nursing Executive Leadership, Post-Master’s APRN Certificate, Doctor of Nursing Practice –BSN to DNP Nurse Practitioner, and Doctor of Nursing Practice – Post-Master’s.

For more information about the School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions at the University of Mobile, visit or call 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.