Mercer University’s annual Founders’ Day speaker had a question for students: What’s in your legacy?
“I posed that question because although Founders’ Day includes hearing from a past graduate who lived where you do, took classes in the same buildings that you do and even was a member of the same groups for which you currently belong, this moment should make you think and reflect while bringing about the thought that maybe one day you will be delivering this address,” Dr. Kirk A. Nooks said at the Feb. 17 event held in Hawkins Arena in the University Center.
Dr. Nooks, a Double Bear, earned his Bachelor of Science in industrial management in 1996 and his Master of Business Administration in marketing in 1998 from Mercer. He went on to earn his doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University and now serves as president of Gordon State College.
But, Dr. Nooks said, it’s not just one of these things that makes up his legacy.
“Legacies,” he explained, “are complex amalgamations of milestones, places, engagements, historic events and certainly people.”
For him, these included deciding to join the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, living in Plunkett Hall, becoming vice president of the Organization of Black Students, living through historic events like a presidential election and racial unrest, and seeing the generosity of people like the late Dr. Horace Fleming, who was provost while Dr. Nooks was at Mercer.
While at the University, Dr. Nooks watched his now wife, Alison, be crowned Miss Mercer, not knowing at the time that they would later wed. Today they have three children, and their daughter, Anniston, is a sophomore majoring in marketing at Mercer.
“Mercer helped me to shape my perspective on life,” he said. “All of the ups and the occasional downs have helped me to prepare for my legacy.”
Dr. Nooks encouraged students to soak in “every milestone, every place, every engagement, every historic event, and most definitely the people along the way.”
“Enjoy the beauty of the complex tapestry because if you try to pull it apart, it might not be the beautiful legacy you were meant to produce,” he said.
The first Founders’ Day was held in 1891, and the early events consisted of speeches by two guests. Since the tradition was revived by the Student Government Association in 1993, prominent alumni have returned to the Macon campus to share their undergraduate experiences.
“Founders’ Day is about pausing for just a moment to reflect on where we’ve been so that we can better understand where we are and where we are going,” said Dr. Doug Pearson, vice president for student affairs and dean of students.
The event was sponsored by the Student Government Association.