Mercer Alumni Association Honors Three for Service


MACON — Mercer University presented three awards to distinguished alumni and friends of the University on Nov. 10 during Homecoming 2012. The University’s alumni association gave awards to Josh Rogers of Macon, Tom Black of Columbus and Nancy Grace of Atlanta.
Rogers won the Thomas Sewell Plunkett Young Alumnus Award, which is given to an alumnus or alumna of Mercer who has graduated within the last 10 years and has demonstrated continued support of the Alumni Association and the University through his or her contribution of time, talents and financial resources. Rogers, a 2005 College of Liberal Arts graduate, is the executive director of the Historic Macon Foundation, a position he has held since 2009. In this role, Rogers has contracted, managed and sold nearly $7 million in historic rehabilitation and new construction projects, restoring dozens of endangered historic buildings to economic usefulness. The programs also catalyzed private investment of millions of dollars into real estate and businesses in Macon’s historic districts. Under Rogers’ leadership, Historic Macon Foundation’s revenues nearly tripled and the number of individual donors doubled in just three years.

Black received the Meritorious Service Award, which is presented to a supporter, alumnus or alumna of Mercer who has demonstrated his or her support of the Alumni Association and the University through his or her contribution of time, talents and financial resources.

A native of Knoxville, Black is a 1954 graduate of Baylor University and a life trustee of Mercer University, serving several terms on the Board of Trustees since 1980. After graduating from Baylor, Black served two years in the Army before he went to work at his father’s snack foods business. The company was acquired in 1960, and Black went on to work at what later became Tom’s Foods, moving to Columbus and serving as executive vice president for 14 years. After taking early retirement, Black formed the TDJ Co., owning and operating several food establishments. He retired from this career in 1999 and served until 2006 as administrator of the Bradley-Turner Foundation, a top 10 private foundation in Georgia, which has helped to fund several projects at Mercer.

Black has had a tremendous impact on the Columbus community, serving in leadership positions with several non-profit organizations, including Columbus State University, which awarded him an honorary doctorate, and as a long time deacon at the First Baptist Church of Columbus. 

Grace was recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, which is given to an alumnus or alumna of Mercer University who has served his or her profession in an outstanding manner and, in so doing, has brought honor to his or her person and the University. The award is presented for service to humanity and dedication which have fostered the ideals of Mercer.

An advocate for victims’ rights and one of television’s most respected legal analysts, Grace is host of CNN Headline News’ top-rated program “Nancy Grace.” A former prosecutor in the Atlanta Fulton County District Attorney’s office, Grace is a 1981 graduate of the College of Liberal arts and a 1984 graduate of the Walter F. George School of Law. She has been a guest on numerous television shows and was a highlight and fan favorite of “Dancing with the Stars: Season 13,” finishing in the competition’s coveted top five. All of her earnings from the show went to support the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In addition, Grace has written three New York Times bestsellers. She is the recipient of several American Women in Radio and Television “Gracie Awards” for her “Nancy Grace Investigates” primetime report on Court TV and has been awarded the “Individual Achievement/Best Program Host” honor.

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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