MACON/ATLANTA – Mercer will confer bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to more than 2,200 students in four commencements during May, including the University’s first outdoor Macon ceremony in 50 years, which will be held at Five Star Stadium.
Commencement speakers will include Columbus businessman William Bradley Turner Jr. for the School of Medicine, TV personality, author and Mercer Trustee Nancy Grace in Atlanta, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates for Mercer Law School, and both Mercer Board of Trustees Chair Cathy Callaway Adams and student-athlete Dorian Kithcart in Macon.
School of Medicine
The School of Medicine will hold its ceremony on Saturday, May 4, at 2 p.m. in Hawkins Arena inside the University Center. The commencement speaker will be Columbus businessman William Bradley Turner Jr.
A lifelong resident of Columbus, Turner graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and went on to work for Synovus Financial Corporation and W.C. Bradley Company, a private family-owned company based in Columbus involved in consumer products and real estate development. He retired from the company in 2008 as chief operations officer.
Turner has served on various boards as a director or trustee, including W.C. Bradley Company, Synovus Financial Corporation, The Bradley-Turner Foundation, the University of Georgia Foundation and Columbus State University Foundation.
He will deliver his address to 182 candidates for degrees from School of Medicine campuses in Macon, Savannah and Columbus.
The University will hold its largest ceremony on Saturday, May 11, at 8:30 a.m. on the lawn of the Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta. The commencement will include greetings from Mercer’s Board of Trustees delivered by Nancy Grace.
Grace is founder and publisher of CrimeOnline.com, hosts Crime Stories with Nancy Grace on SIRIUS XM’s Triumph Channel 111 and appears on Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Daily Mail TV, ABC’s Nightline and 20/20. She was a fan favorite and finalist on Dancing with the Stars: Season 13, and her earnings went to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Grace is a New York Times-bestselling author of Objection!, Eleventh Victim, Death on the D-List and Murder in the Courthouse. She executive produces the Hailey Dean Mysteries, a Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Network movie franchise. She prosecuted in the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for 10 years before joining Johnnie Cochran at Court TV for Cochran & Grace. She became a crimefighter when her fiancé, Keith Griffin, was shot and killed.
She earned her B.A. from Mercer, became a Law Review grad of Mercer Law School and received her master’s degree in constitutional and criminal law from New York University. She has served multiple terms on the Mercer University Board of Trustees. She and her husband, David Linch, also a Mercer alumnus and trustee, and their twins reside in Atlanta and New York City.
She will deliver greetings to 1,154 candidates for degrees from the College of Pharmacy, School of Business and Economics, College of Education, School of Theology, College of Nursing, Penfield College and College of Health Professions.
School of Law
Mercer’s School of Law will hold its ceremony on May 11 at 2:30 p.m. in Hawkins Arena. The commencement speaker will be Sally Q. Yates, former U.S. deputy attorney general and current partner in King & Spalding’s Special Matters and Government Investigations practice. Yates will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University.
Drawing upon her nearly three decades at the Department of Justice, Yates specializes in internal and independent investigations for public and private organizations and boards.
As the second-highest ranking official at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and as acting attorney general, she was responsible for all of DOJ’s 113,000 employees, including all prosecutorial, litigating and national security components. She also was responsible for all U.S. Attorney’s offices and law enforcement agencies and the Bureau of Prisons. She oversaw DOJ’s most significant matters and was instrumental in setting DOJ’s enforcement priorities and initiatives.
Prior to becoming deputy attorney general, Yates was the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Before entering government service, she practiced as a civil litigation associate at King & Spalding. She has served as a visiting distinguished lecturer at Georgetown University Law Center and a frequent speaker on a variety of public policy issues.
A native of Atlanta, she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and law degree from the University of Georgia and served as executive editor of the Georgia Law Review while in law school.
Yates will deliver her address to 126 candidates for degrees.
The University will hold its first-ever commencement at Five Star Stadium on Monday, May 13, at 8:15 a.m. The ceremony will include greetings from Mercer’s Board of Trustees delivered by board chair Cathy Callaway Adams, as well as an address from student commencement speaker Dorian T. Kithcart.
Adams served Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta for 32 years, recently retiring as executive vice president and chief operations officer overseeing information technology strategies and operations, cyber and physical security, shareholder financial operations, human resources, property management, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and community engagement/volunteerism programs.
She is serving her fourth term on the Mercer University Board of Trustees, having previously chaired the board’s Executive, Finance and Audit committees. She served as president of the Tift College Alumnae Association and was recognized with the Tift College Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2010. She also chairs the external advisory council for Mercer’s Center for Leadership and Ethics. She is board chair of The Atlanta Opera and is on the boards of the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra and the Suzi Bass Theatre Awards.
Adams earned her bachelor’s degree from Tift College and Master of Business Administration from Georgia State University.
Kithcart is a senior from Durham, North Carolina, a mechanical engineering major enrolled in the University’s 4+1 Integrated Master of Science Program and a three-year starter at nose guard on the Mercer football team.
Through his coursework and individual or team projects, he has designed software to construct loft beds for college students, proposed software and data packaging solutions for a medical facility in Honduras, designed exercise equipment, drafted a coffee shop schematic, and developed an instructional video to assist other student-athletes in completing the JumpForward program. He has been a leader in the Macon Crosswalk Safety Improvement Project and has been working on a project related to helmet safety.
Kithcart excels in the classroom and as a student-athlete. He was named to the Freshman All-Southern Conference Team in 2016 and the SoCon All-Academic Team from 2016 to 2018.
Adams and Kithcart will deliver remarks to 745 candidates for degrees from the College of Liberal Arts, School of Business and Economics, School of Engineering, College of Education, Penfield College, School of Music and College of Health Professions.