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WVC Grad Dr. Jim Mobley

Jim Mobley
Dr. Jim Mobley


If you were to look back through a 1980-81 or 1981-82 Oubache Yearbook, or if you were to ask any WVC administrator, faculty or staff member who was at WVC during this time period, for the name of one of the most involved and most outstanding students at WVC, you would see and hear the name “Jim Mobley.” 

Wabash Valley Activities and Awards
Jim, a 1982 graduate of Wabash Valley College, is now Dr. Jim Mobley, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Sunapten Therapeutics, Inc., in Kalamazoo, Michigan. While a student at WVC, Jim served on Model United Nations, was President of the WVC Student Senate, and served as the Student Representative on the IECC Board of Trustees. He also was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Who’s Who Among American Junior College Students, a recipient of the Uel French Transfer Scholarship, the Seiler Scholarship, the Presidential Scholarship, and graduated with High Honors upon receiving his Associate in Science Degree from WVC in 1982. 

In commenting on his experiences at WVC, Dr. Mobley said…. “Following my graduation from Mt. Carmel High School in 1980, I had hoped to join a group of my friends as freshmen at the University of Illinois. Unfortunately, my parents simply could not afford to send me to Illinois for four years. Instead, the plan was that I attend WVC for the first two years so that I could live at home and hold a job. This would allow me to save money on tuition and housing, while earning money for the final two years at Illinois.”

He said that he was sure that he must have been disappointed that he had to wait to join his friends in Champaign-Urbana, but he honestly did not remember feeling that way. His Dad, Dwight Mobley, taught at WVC, and both of his older sisters had attended, so he knew that he would get a good start on his college education. He also knew that he would have opportunities outside the classroom that would not be available at a larger school. 

Commenting further, he said…. “As incredible as it seems to me now, until my freshman year at WVC, I had spoken to only a single non-Caucasian in my entire life; an African American kid from Lawrenceville who was a rival athlete. We struck up a conversation in the infield of a regional track meet. The fact that I remember this event so clearly is an indication of the overall lack of racial and religious diversity in the area at the time. While attending WVC, I had the opportunity to play American Legion Baseball where I met and made friends with several of the WVC baseball players, including African Americans, a Native American, and a player of Hispanic origin. As an avid basketball fan, I played intramural basketball and attended all of the WVC Warrior games, and became good friends with several of the players, including Fred Abram, with whom I often had lunch in the WVC Cafeteria, discussing his experiences in inner-city Chicago.”

Model United Nations Influence
In relating to his experiences in the Model United Nations, Jim noted….. “In my first year at WVC, Mr. French convinced me to join the Model United Nations, a club that taught about foreign relations and politics through role-playing as delegates from foreign countries to the United Nations. At events in St. Louis and New York City, at the actual UN Building, we portrayed delegates from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. These were important countries in 1980-81, during the height of OPEC power. One of our club members, Mike Klotz, was of Lebanese descent and suggested that we learn about the Muslim religion and read parts of the Koran in order to understand the people we were to portray. At the end of my two years at WVC, I had gained a much greater respect and appreciation of the racial, religious, and social diversity that is such an integral part of our nation. This served me well later in life. While employed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, I had scientists reporting to me who were Indian, Chinese, Muslim, Mormon, Buddhist, Jewish, Native American, and homosexual. We all worked together for a common goal, and never gave our racial or social differences a second thought.”

WVC Leadership Opportunities
“By attending WVC, I also had the opportunity to participate in student government, something that did not interest me while in high school. By serving as Student Senate President and Student Representative to the IECC Board of Trustees, I learned valuable lessons about leadership, decision-making, delegation, and risk-taking. I also learned something about taking responsibility for one’s mistakes. Each year we held an ice cream social to raise money to support various Student Senate activities. As the VCR had just been invented, and movies could be rented from a catalog, we decided to include a movie with our ice cream social as a novelty. The movie we showed contained some brief nudity that by today’s standards would hardly raise an eyebrow, and would be something you could see on prime time TV. By 1980’s standards, it was shocking and scandalous to some of the participants. I was asked to make a formal apology to community leaders and faculty in attendance. These lessons in leadership and personal responsibility shaped my future by giving me the experience and the courage to start a company in 2009, Sunapten Therapeutics, with the goal of finding a cure for metastatic prostate cancer.”

Instructor Tributes
Jim concluded his comments by paying tribute to some of his teachers at WVC… “Academics were an important part of my experience at WVC, and I had a great group of dedicated teachers, including Mr. Don Leynaud (Biology), Mr. Bob Adams (Chemistry), Mr. John Patterson (Mathematics), and Mr. Jerry Bayne (Student Senate). They provided a strong foundation that allowed me to move on to earn B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Biology at the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Immunology from the University of Iowa. However, the lessons that I learned outside of the classroom, including the introduction to social and racial diversity, and the responsibility and challenges of leadership, were the most valuable lessons I learned while a student at Wabash Valley College.”

Submitted by Louise Acree, Director of Public Information, Wabash Valley College

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