MOBILE, Ala. – A survey of University of Mobile students evaluating the online delivery of classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic reveals more than whether the technology worked or faculty successfully revamped their courses for the new format.
It shows the importance students place on their personal connections with faculty and staff at the Christian university.
“Honestly, I’m just thankful for the kindness of all the faculty and staff. In the midst of all this chaos, they have been so loving and encouraging,” a student wrote in the anonymous survey.
Given space to offer a “shout out” for anything they thought worked particularly well, students overwhelmingly cited the ways faculty and staff checked on them, prayed for them, and were available to support them through personal challenges as well as with coursework.
The shout outs reveal a Christ-centered culture where community and connections are important.
“Charlotte Hester is my Foundation of Music Theory professor and she prays for us every time we meet for class. It really means a lot that she will stop in the middle of a sentence and say, ‘Hey guys, let’s pray,'” a student wrote.
The associate professor of music education in the university’s Alabama School of the Arts said she prays with students “because our hearts need the presence of a mighty God in a chaotic world.”
“If I stop in the middle of a sentence and say, ‘Hey guys, let’s pray,’ it’s probably because there is something on the faces and demeanor of my students that says ‘need,’ whether it is need to focus, need to sleep, need to be less anxious, or need to understand. Prayer should be the place we take our need and our concerns to lay at the feet of Jesus,” Hester said.
University of Mobile President Lonnie Burnett said the university’s “Know and Be Known” motto highlights the strength of a small campus with an enrollment just under 2,000, where students are known by their professors and where professors know their calling goes beyond teaching subject matter in a particular discipline.
“The great advantage of a university of our size is that the faculty and staff can communicate effectively with all our students. This has never been more evident or necessary than during the last few weeks. Likewise, our Christ-centered focus makes it natural to want to minister to students,” Burnett said.
Student comments illustrate how that culture of Christ-centered community makes a big impact. Here is a small sampling of the many “shout outs” that University of Mobile students shared on the survey:
“Mrs. Counselman, my English professor, texted me to make sure I was doing okay, and that she was praying for me. It was very thoughtful!”
“Mrs. Carithers also says her cell phone is always open for us to call her if we have any questions.”
“Dr. Walter did a Zoom call with our class just to check on us, and he asked us individually how we were doing. I really appreciated that!”
“My music theory professor, Mr. Dunn, emailed me to check on me. I needed that.”
“Dr. Jones has done a wonderful job keeping us updated and has been very understanding with peoples’ personal issues during this time of uncertainty.”
“I am so thankful to have teachers that truly care for us and do everything in their power and work with us to help us be successful in this very hard and unexpected time!! So thankful for all staff! You guys ROCK.”
One student pointed out that this was an uncertain time for faculty and staff, as well as for students.
“It’s hard for all of us, not just students,” the student wrote. “We were all affected by it, and the fact that they continue to work and to make sure we’re okay is amazing!
“So SHOUT-OUT to all my professors for being able to do this and continue through this rough journey. God has called them into this area, and I’m glad to see them still striving to make sure all of the students are taken care of!”
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 www.umobile.edu or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.