Board celebrates Aspire campaign, approves nursing program and elects new trustees

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Exterior campus street posts with orangge banners stating "At Mercer Everyone Majors In Changing the World"

MACON – Mercer University’s Board of Trustees voted to officially close out the highly successful $500 million Aspire capital campaign at the end of this calendar year, approved a new Bachelor of Science in Nursing pathway for the Macon campus, and elected nine new trustees and a new board chair during its annual Homecoming meeting today.

Launched during Homecoming in 2014, Aspire, The Campaign for Mercer University, has provided financial resources that are empowering Mercer, already emerging among the Southeast’s elite private research universities, to become an international leader in applying its intellectual capital to better serve the needs of humankind.

With gifts and pledges surpassing $503 million at the time of the board meeting, trustees voted to officially end the campaign on Dec. 31. To date, the money raised through the campaign has helped the University complete or get underway more than $150 million in construction projects, as well as fund more than 250 new endowed and expendable scholarships, nine endowed centers or institutes, more than 50 endowed and 80 expendable program enhancement funds and 12 endowed faculty chairs and professorships. 

“Mercer alumni, friends, faculty, staff, foundations and other organizations have been exceedingly generous in their support of Aspire, The Campaign for Mercer University,” said President William D. Underwood. “We have seen great enthusiasm among our constituents for the kind of impact Mercer and its people are having on our communities and our world, and our alumni and friends have stepped up in a big way to continue and expand that work through their financial gifts.”

In other action, the board approved a new Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree that the College of Nursing, based on Mercer’s Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta, will offer on the Macon campus. Following Georgia Board of Nursing approval, the pathway is expected to begin in fall 2024. 

The longest-established nursing program in the state of Georgia, the College of Nursing with this expansion will help address the critical need for nurses in Central Georgia. By offering the BSN in Macon, residential undergraduate students will be able to complete all four years of their nursing degree in the same location, rather than splitting time between the Macon and Atlanta campuses.

The board also elected nine new trustees, whose terms began at the conclusion of the meeting. They include Larry L. Braden, St. Simons Island; James C. “Jimmy” Elder Jr., Columbus; Nancy Grace, Atlanta; Benjy Griffith III, Macon; Erin Keller, Macon; William A. (Tony) Moye, McDonough; Richard A. (Doc) Schneider, Atlanta; Edward J. (Ed) Schutter Jr., Atlanta; and Amy Miller Wall, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Trustees who rotated off the board and were recognized for their service include Gustavous (Holmes) Bell IV, Vernonburg; Charles L. (Charlie) Cantrell III, Macon; Claude M. (Mick) Kicklighter, McLean, Virginia; Shaun King, Suwanee; Jackie Baugh Moore, Boerne, Texas; M. Diane Owens, Lilburn; Chris R. Sheridan Jr., Macon; Jerry S. Wilson, Ponte Vedra, Florida; and Raymond McLeod (Thad) Warren III, Atlanta.

Thomas P. (Tom) Bishop, a 1982 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a 1985 graduate of the School of Law from Kennesaw, was elected as board chair for 2024. He has served as chair of the board’s Executive Committee for the past year. Cathy Callaway Adams, a 1981 graduate of Tift College and former board chair from Fernandina Beach, Florida, was appointed chair of the Executive Committee for 2024.