Professor Mike Barnett with the Lord

August 11, 2015

Columbia International University is saddened to announce the sudden passing of Dr. Mike Barnett, professor of Intercultural and Historical Studies and former dean of CIU’s College of Intercultural Studies. He was rushed to the hospital by paramedics early in the morning on Aug. 10 and passed away after attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Dr. Barnett served at CIU for 11 years. He was 62 years old and is survived by his wife Cindy and adult children Cole Barnett and Michelle (Barnett) Morris.

A memorial service for Dr. Barnett was held on Aug. 13 at CIU. A funeral was held on Aug. 15 in Dr. Barnett's home state of Texas where he was buried.  

Born in Houston, Dr. Barnett earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from the University of Houston and a Master of Divinity and Ph.D. in Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Prior to coming to CIU, Dr. Barnett and his wife Cindy served 12 years with the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention ministering in the 10/40 window, and also in the local church in the areas of missions and church planting.   

In addition to teaching at CIU, Dr. Barnett served on the board of directors of Baptist Global Response and was the executive vice president of the Evangelical Missiological Society. He was also a strategy consultant for the IMB and for LIfeShape, the nonprofit foundation of Chick-Fil-A. Early in his career, Dr. Barnett worked in international business as president of Specialty Forge and Machine Company of Houston and in business development with Texas American Bank.

His Objective

Dr. Barnett’s objective was: “To glorify God by equipping, connecting, and enabling students to be on mission with Him among all people.”

His colleagues say he did just that.

Dr. Ed Smither, dean of the College of Intercultural Studies, called him “a great coach.”

“Dr. Barnett believed in those that he led and mentored and empowered them to live out their calling,” Smither said. “Having worked in business, in local church ministry, as an international missionary, and as a college and seminary professor, his life was dedicated to participating in the mission of God.”

Intercultural Studies professor Dr. David Cashin remembered Barnett as the founding dean of CIU’s College of Intercultural Studies.

“Whether engaged in business, missions or teaching, and often a combination of all three, Mike was a leader.” Cashin said. “He took the reins of the CIU Intercultural Studies program and built it into the College of Intercultural Studies. He left his imprint not only on the institution but on all who worked with him.”  

Danise Stokeld, the educational assistant for the College of Intercultural Studies, remembers her former supervisor as a family man.  

“He always said he wasn't sentimental, but when we got him talking about Cindy or his kids, he melted,” Stokeld said. “He loved (his son) Cole and (his daughter) Michelle and could always be counted on for a great picture of the grandkids. Working with him the past five years has been so rewarding, he will be deeply missed.”


Memorial gifts may be made to the Michael C. Barnett Mission of God Scholarship providing aid to students pursuing degrees in CIU’s College of Intercultural Studies. Online donations may be made here

Make checks payable to Columbia International University and mail to: 

CIU Development Dept.

PO Box 3122

Columbia, SC 29230-3122

When making your memorial gift online or by check, please indicate that your gift is for the Barnett Scholarship. 

The CIU administration asks that you please keep Cindy and the entire family in your prayers.

Because of Dr. Barnett's involvement with the Southern Baptist Convention, he is being missed by many friends there, as well. Read the article, "Missions visionary Mike Barnett, 62, dies" published in the Baptist Press.