MACON/ATLANTA — Mercer University will confer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to more than 2,300 students in five commencements during May in Macon and Atlanta.
Commencement speakers will include former Mercer trustee and First Baptist Church of Columbus pastor Dr. Jimmy Elder for the School of Medicine; Georgia Legal Services Program Deputy Director Tomieka R. Daniel for Mercer Law School; Board of Trustees Chairman Thad Warren III in Atlanta and Macon; and graduating senior Abdulraheem Kaimari in Macon.
The Atlanta and Macon ceremonies are ticketed events. Livestream coverage of all ceremonies will be available at mercer.edu/commencement.
School of Medicine
The School of Medicine will hold its ceremony on Saturday, May 6, at 2 p.m. in Hawkins Arena inside the University Center.
Dr. Jimmy Elder will deliver his address to 210 candidates for degrees from School of Medicine campuses in Macon, Savannah and Columbus.
Dr. Elder has lived in Georgia all of his life. Born in the Atlanta area, he was an honor graduate at Rockdale County High School and magna cum laude graduate of Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He completed post-graduate work earning a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary.
For more than 19 years, Dr. Elder has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Columbus. He previously pastored churches in Gwinnett County, Moultrie and Thomson. He recently completed his 20th year on the Mercer Board of Trustees.
Dr. Elder, who was closely involved in the founding of the Columbus campus of the School of Medicine, served as chair of the Board of Trustees of St. Francis/Emory Healthcare in Columbus. He is currently vice chair of the St. Francis/Emory Healthcare Board, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Pastoral Institute, the YMCA Board of Directors, and the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley.
School of Law
The School of Law will hold its ceremony on Saturday, May 13, at 10 a.m. in Hawkins Arena.
Tomieka R. Daniel will deliver her address to 122 candidates for degrees.
Daniel earned her J.D. from Mercer Law School in 2002 after graduating with honors from Clark Atlanta University in 1997. She has been practicing law with Georgia Legal Services since 2002, first as the managing attorney for the Macon Regional Office and currently as deputy director. In her position, Daniel primarily handles family law, housing, elder law, and family violence cases for low-income Georgians. She is the recipient of many awards, including being recognized in 2008 as the first recipient of Mercer’s Law and Public Service Program Award for Outstanding Public Service by a Recent Graduate. Other honors include the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service, presented by the State Bar of Georgia, 2009; the Domestic Violence Task Force Member of the Year Award from the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, 2014; the Woman of Achievement Award from the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs Inc. of Georgia, 2015; the Bensonetta Tipton Lane Award for Commitment to the Family from the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, 2015; and the Chain of Service Award for National Trends and Services from the Macon Chapter of The Links Inc., 2017. In 2019, the State Bar of Georgia’s Access to Justice Committee awarded Daniel the Dan Bradley Award, and in 2020, the Daily Report named her as a Best Mentor.
In 2020, Daniel was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to serve on the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. She is a member of the Macon Bar Association and serves on the Access to Justice Committee for the State Bar of Georgia. She is past president for the Houston County Bar Association, a member of the Georgia Association for Black Women Attorneys, president of the Bootle Inn of Court, and a member of the Georgia Association for Women Attorneys. Daniel is also a former member of the Alumni Board of Directors for Mercer School of Law.
The University will hold two ceremonies for Atlanta campus graduates on Sunday, May 14, at Gas South Arena in Duluth.
The School of Business, College of Education, College of Professional Advancement and School of Theology will participate in a noon ceremony, and the College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy and College of Health Professions will follow in a 5 p.m. ceremony.
Thad Warren III, who will bring greetings from the Board of Trustees to more than 1,200 candidates for degrees across the two ceremonies, is serving his third five-year term on the board and is current chair.
Chairman and CEO of Warren Environment Inc. in Atlanta, North America’s largest supplier of industrial stack and duct systems, Warren serves on numerous boards and foundations, including the Atlanta Youth Project and the Lake Rabun Association. As a member of Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta, he has taught Sunday School, worked on many committees and chaired the Board of Deacons. A 1986 graduate of Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Warren met his wife, Darlene, B.S. ’86, at Mercer and was married by Monroe Swilley, for whom the Atlanta campus library is named.
The University will hold a ceremony for Macon campus graduates at Five Star Stadium on Monday, May 15, at 8 a.m.
Board Chair Thad Warren III will also bring greetings from the trustees to 800 candidates for degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Engineering, College of Education, School of Music, College of Professional Advancement and College of Health Professions.
Student Commencement Speaker Abdulraheem Kaimari will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA in his neuroscience and chemistry double-major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Kaimari, who is from Atlanta, is vice president of the Mercer Prosthetics and Orthotics Club and has been involved in the Vietnam Mercer On Mission program. He is a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa, Nhu Rho Psi, Gamma Sigma Epsilon, Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. He has held officer positions in the Mercer Pre-Medical Organization, Beta Beta Beta Honor Society, and the Muslim Student Association, and has served as a Mercer Ambassador with Alumni Services.
After graduation, Kaimari will be pursuing a joint M.D./Ph.D. at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on a full fellowship.
About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. With approximately 9,000 students enrolled in 12 schools and colleges, on major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; medical school sites in Macon, Savannah and Columbus; and at regional academic centers in Henry and Douglas counties, Mercer is ranked among the top tier of national research universities by U.S. News & World Report. The Mercer Health Sciences Center includes the University’s School of Medicine and Colleges of Nursing, Health Professions and Pharmacy. Mercer is affiliated with five teaching hospitals – Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center and Piedmont Macon Medical Center in Macon; Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis-Emory Healthcare in Columbus. The University also has an educational partnership with Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins. It operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer Medicine, the clinical faculty practice of the School of Medicine, is based in Macon and operates additional clinics in Sumter, Peach, Clay, Putnam and Harris counties. Mercer is one of only 293 institutions nationwide to shelter a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society; one of eight institutions to hold membership in the Georgia Research Alliance; and the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit mercer.edu.