During his time at Mercer University, Samuel Hart served as a source of guidance and encouragement and a champion for students. Here’s how he became and continues to be a Mercer Legend.
Mercer connection: Professor and administrator.
Years at Mercer: 1969-2003.
What he did: Samuel Hart began his career as a high school science teacher and basketball coach in Pulaski and Bibb counties before going to Mercer. He started as a residence hall counselor and went on to become director of minority affairs, director of judicial affairs, director of TRIO Programs — which include Upward Bound, Student Support Systems and the Educational Opportunity Center — and associate dean of student affairs.
Hart retired from Mercer in 2003 to serve as executive director of the Middle Georgia Center for Academic Excellence but continued to serve the University in a consulting role for a time as special assistant to the vice president for student affairs.
He has been and remains an active leader and supporter in the local and educational community. He is a former chairman and commissioner for the Bibb County Board of Commissioners and a former chairman of the Macon Water Authority.
Hart has led or served on numerous civic boards, foundations and councils, including the Association County Commissioners of Georgia’s Civic Affairs Foundation, 100 Black Men of Macon/Middle Georgia, Government Employee Benefits Corporation of Georgia, Council for Opportunity in Education, and Southeastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel.
Why he’s a legend: During his time at Mercer, Hart left a lasting impact on the students and the University. The yearbook committee dedicated the 1992 edition of “The Cauldron” to him, calling him an “unsung hero on the Macon campus” and recognizing his involvement in student activities and organizations.
Through his work with Upward Bound, he provided guidance and mentorship to minority students who would become the first in their families to attend college. He helped them prepare for all aspects of college life and connected them with the resources they needed to succeed.
A former science teacher, Hart took a special interest in students who demonstrated potential in math and science-related fields. Having seen many teens intimidated by these fields and quick to dismiss them, he strived to help students realize they were capable of tackling and excelling in these subjects. In 1999, he was awarded one of 10 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the National Science Foundation.
In his honor, the 100 Black Men of Macon/Middle Georgia created the Sam Hart Community Impact Award, the highest honor bestowed by the organization.
Quotable: “Sam and I worked together in the Division of Student Affairs for 33 years. His abilities to develop leadership skills with student leaders in judicial and TRIO programs were exceptional. He earned the respect and admiration of students and colleagues. Sam Hart has assisted Mercerians to live more productive lives and has made Mercer a better place for all of us.” — Barry Jenkins, former dean of students and vice provost for institutional effectiveness
Mercer Legends is a series that highlights iconic figures who left a lasting impact on the University and its faculty, staff and students, as well as the community.