MACON — Mercer's Board of Trustees adopted a new University mission statement at its spring meeting on April 19 and approved a $222 million operating budget for 2013-14.
The board unanimously approved the new University mission statement to more accurately communicate Mercer's distinctiveness and its place in American higher education. The new statement reads “Mercer University's mission is to teach, to learn, to create, to discover, to inspire, to empower and to serve.”
“The new mission statement captures the energy and vitality of today's Mercer, acknowledges our growing commitment to research and service, and embraces our continued grounding in our faith tradition,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood.
In addition to adopting a new mission statement, the board also approved a proposed Quality Enhancement Plan, a component of the University's upcoming decennial reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The plan centers on aligning service-learning and research, two hallmarks of the University's mission.
“This topic is grounded in our new mission statement and our strategic plan, seeks to build on some of the most important work being done at the University, and promises to further distinguish Mercer University in the world of higher education,” Underwood said.
The $222,070,797 operating budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1, represents an $11.9 million, or 5.7 percent, increase over the current budget. Trustees voted to hold the tuition increase for Mercer's undergraduate programs to 2 percent, the lowest increase in decades. Students in the Walter F. George School of Law will see no increase in tuition next yearand overall graduate and professional programs will experience tuition increases averaging 2.9 percent.
The board was informed that the University is finalizing plans with Sierra Development to construct Phase III of the Lofts at Mercer Village on University-owned property along College Street, between Centenary United Methodist Church and Alexander II Elementary School. The University previously worked with Sierra on the development of Phase I and Phase II of the Lofts at Mercer Village. Unlike the first two phases, Phase III will have no retail businesses. The new structure will house 111 Mercer students. University offices that are currently located in buildings on the property will be relocated to other Mercer facilities. Construction is expected to be underway by mid-May.
Trustees approved several new majors and degree programs across the University.
The Tift College of Education this fall will introduce a Master of Education in Independent and Charter School Leadership program on the Macon and Atlanta campuses. The degree is designed for school leaders in private and charter schools and offers the same high-level leadership training as the College's educational leadership programs, but is tailored to the needs of independent school leaders who work outside the state certification system.
The board approved two new graduate programs for the College of Continuing and Professional Studies: the Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling, offered on the Atlanta campus, and the Master of Science in Human Services with a concentration in gerontology services, offered at the Henry County Regional Academic Center. The rehabilitation counseling degree will educate candidates to become licensed counselors assisting people with physical, mental or emotional disabilities to become or remain self-sufficient, productive citizens. The gerontology services degree will train students to work with nonprofits, hospitals and other service providers who serve aging populations.
Townsend School of Music will launch the Bachelor of Music with Elective Studies degree in Macon. The new program will offer a performance degree, with the additional opportunity to include 18 hours of study in an elective area. The degree replaces Townsend's Bachelor of Musical Arts.
Trustees also approved a five-year joint bachelor's and master's program with the School of Engineering and Stetson School of Business and Economics in Macon. The joint Bachelor of Science in Technical Communication and Master of Business Administration program will equip graduates with technical communication and management degrees within a five-year program, instead of the six it would take to complete the programs separately.
The College of Liberal Arts will offer a new major in chemical commerce in Macon. The major encompasses courses that provide students with a solid scientific foundation, the business acumen to compete in a global market and flexibility to meet their interests and goals. The program has the flexibility of following three business tracks: accounting, economics or business administration. It will also allow students to earn many of the necessary pre-requisites for medical pre-professional programs and MBA programs.
The board during its Thursday night dinner honored Life Trustee Robert L. Steed with the unveiling of a bronze bust that will be placed in the Walter F. George School of Law and approved the naming of the Law School's lobby in his honor. Steed, a double Mercer graduate who served six terms as a trustee, including a term as board chair, was instrumental in orchestrating the bargain-sale of the former Insurance Company of North America building on Coleman Hill to Mercer in the late 1970s for the new home of the Law School. He also played a prominent role in the formation of the Woodruff Trust that benefits the Law School to this day.
The board resolution honoring Steed read, in part:
“Whereas Mr. Steed has received virtually every honor that can be bestowed on an individual by Mercer University, including the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Mercer Law School, an honorary Doctor of Laws, and, in 2008, election as only the seventh Life Trustee in the history of the University;
“Now, therefore, be it resolved in recognition of Robert L. Steed's lifetime of meaningful service to Mercer University, that the Board of Trustees hereby designates the lobby of the Walter F. George School of Law Building as the 'Robert L. Steed Lobby,' in perpetual tribute to one of the institution's most loyal alumni and devoted Board members.”
Newly Adopted University Mission Statement
Mercer University's mission is to teach, to learn, to create, to discover, to inspire, to empower and to serve.
In fulfilling this mission, the University supports undergraduate, graduate, and professional learning as well as basic research and its application in service to others. As a university committed to excellence and innovation, Mercer challenges members of its community to meet and exceed high standards in their teaching, learning, research, scholarship and service.
Founded by Baptists in 1833, Mercer is an independent university that remains grounded in a tradition that embraces freedom of the mind and spirit, cherishes the equal worth of every individual, and commits to serving the needs of humankind. As a reflection of this heritage:
We encourage our students to discover and develop fully their unique combination of gifts and talents to become leaders who make a positive difference in the world. We seek to inspire members of our community to live virtuous and meaningful lives by using their gifts and talents to serve the needs of humankind as an expression of their love for God and neighbor. We seek to enrich the mind and spirit by promoting and facilitating an open and rigorous search for truth and understanding, including an examination of the moral, religious and ethical questions of this and every age. We affirm and respect the dignity and sacred worth of every person and celebrate both our commonalities and our differences.
— 30 —