Mercer Trustees Approve New Graduate Programs, Construction of Cruz Plaza


For a full gallery of renderings for the Cruz Plaza, visit

MACON — Mercer University’s Board of Trustees re-elected Augusta attorney and alumnus David Hudson as chairman of the board, approved three new graduate degree programs, and gave the green light for construction to begin on Cruz Plaza, a major new feature on the Macon campus.

The board approved the McAfee School of Theology’s first Ph.D. program and the University’s seventh overall. The Ph.D. in Religion with a focus on Baptist studies will be interdepartmental, engaging faculty from across the University and partnering with Mercer’s Eula Mae and John Baugh Center for Baptist Leadership. Graduates from this Ph.D. program are expected to become pastor-scholars, teachers in universities and seminaries and leaders in denominational and ministry organizations.

In addition, the board approved two new Education Specialist degrees in the Tift College of Education. The Ed.S. in Early Childhood Education is designed to meet certification upgrade needs of master’s-level early childhood education graduates. The Ed.S. in Teacher Leadership is designed as an advanced degree program for certified teachers who want to increase their instructional and teacher leadership skills beyond the master’s level. The early childhood Ed.S. will be offered at Mercer’s Regional Academic Centers in Henry County, Douglas County and Newnan. The teacher leadership Ed.S. will be offered online and coordinated from Mercer’s Atlanta campus.

Cruz Plaza, named for the Cruz family of Puerto Rico, will transform the appearance of the central part of Mercer’s Macon campus from the University Center to the historic Quad and from Greek Village past Tarver Library. Milton L. Cruz, a 1982 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and chairman, president and CEO of Medholdings Inc., along with his wife, Aileen Rosso, and his father Juan L. Cruz Rosario and sister Zoraida Cruz Torres – both of whom are also Mercer graduates – provided the lead gift for the project. Construction is expected to get under way next month and be completed next August.

The Plaza, designed by the Atlanta landscape architecture firm HGOR, will include new seating and gathering areas, a prominent water feature and major landscaping improvements. It will incorporate major new gateways to the interior of campus around Tarver Library, the University Center and Connell Student Center, incorporating the current Porter Patch and W.G. Lee Park.

“Mercer is deeply grateful to the Cruz family for enabling the University to proceed with this major project that will further improve the aesthetics of our Macon campus,” President William D. Underwood said. “Mercer’s reputation for having one of the most beautiful college campuses in the country will only be enhanced by these improvements that will encourage and facilitate interaction between students, faculty and staff. It will accentuate what has become the central crossroads of campus.”

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,300 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah – and four regional academic centers across the state. The Mercer Health Sciences Center launched July 1, 2012, and includes the University’s medical, nursing and pharmacy schools and will add a fourth college – the College of Health Professions – on July 1, 2013. Mercer is affiliated with four teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The University also has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program.

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