Mercer Trustees Approve New 10-Year Strategic Plan, Record Operating Budget

Atlanta Jesse Mercer statue

ATLANTA — Mercer University’s Board of Trustees, meeting today on the Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta, adopted a record $248.4 million operating budget for 2018-19 and approved a new strategic plan that outlines the institution’s vision and priorities for the decade ahead.

The strategic plan is the culmination of more than 18 months of deliberations by a six-member steering committee chaired by Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Kellie Appel and 10 working groups composed of dozens of trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members. Input was sought from all Mercer stakeholders, with several hundred respondents contributing well over 1,000 comments and suggestions during the planning process. The board held a special workshop last August that was focused on evaluating input and discussing future priorities and goals.

Prior to presenting the new strategic plan to the board for discussion and adoption, President William D. Underwood highlighted achievements under the current strategic plan, which was approved in 2008:

  • Mercer was reclassified as a national research university, with a near doubling of annual National Science Foundation research expenditures, an investment of $60 million in research facilities, and admission into the Georgia Research Alliance.
  • Increased student achievement, as Mercer became a leading producer of Goldwater Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, Woodrow Wilson Fellows, and Peace Corps appointees. Mercer also was awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and admitted to the Churchill Scholars Program.
  • Established the Mercer Health Sciences Center, including a new College of Health Professions, a four-year School of Medicine campus in Savannah, a two-year clinical campus in Columbus, and more than 100 new residency slots in Macon in partnership with Hospital Corporation of America.
  • Enrollment growth of 41 percent in the Macon undergraduate program while improving the academic profile of the entering class from the 78th percentile to the 90th percentile.
  • Transformed the appearance and functionality of the Macon campus with approximately $200 million in new facilities.
  • Reinterpreted Mercer’s heritage to inspire and empower students to lives of service and meaning, and to meet the needs of a 21st century global community through the Mercer On Mission program.
  • Established nationally recognized centers of excellence, including the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings, the Center for Drug Delivery Research, the Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies, the Center for Theology and Public Life, the Center for Collaborative Journalism, and the Center for Rural Health Disparities.
  • Raised the institution’s profile and built community among Mercer constituents through a more competitive NCAA Division I athletics program, including the reinstatement of football.
  • Partnered with public and private entities to help revitalize Macon, attracting tens of millions of dollars in investment in the city’s urban core, and through the volunteerism of thousands of Mercer students, resulting in national and international recognition for community engagement.
  • Added to the financial strength of the University with annual operating surpluses and by doubling the endowment to nearly $340 million.

Titled Inspire, the new strategic plan has seven imperatives that call for Mercer to:

  • Be an intimate and diverse community of gifted scholars committed to changing the world
  • Be a place of discovery and innovation
  • Be a global university
  • Be relevant
  • Achieve meaningful outcomes
  • Compete with the best
  • Be true to our heritage

The full strategic plan will be introduced to the University community at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year.

Continuing seven consecutive years of below-market tuition increases, trustees voted to again limit the tuition increase for Macon undergraduate programs to 2.5 percent for 2018-19. There will be no tuition increase for students in the School of Medicine, and law students will see a 2 percent increase next year. Across the University, the blended tuition increase is 1.7 percent.

Trustees approved a new post-master’s family nurse practitioner certificate in the College of Nursing. The track will be available to individuals with previous experience as an advanced practice nurse who are returning to school to obtain eligibility for Family Nurse Practitioner Certification.