Staff members recognized with Mercer Spirit Awards

president underwood hands donna terrill an award plaque
Mercer University President William D. Underwood hands Donna Terrill, director of academic advising services in the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business, the Mercer Spirit Award.

Kandy Cook and Donna Terrill took home this year’s Mercer Spirit Awards, which annually celebrate staff members who not only work diligently in their assigned duties but also stand out in their service efforts to the University and beyond.

The purpose of the award is to give Mercer employees on the Macon and Atlanta campuses an outlet to express their creativity in cultivating the University’s mission to serve, to recognize their accomplishments that brought out positive outcomes and to provide a platform for the University’s non-faculty staff to be recognized for their efforts.

The award also represents the outstanding work of each of the recipients through their leadership, edifying character and reliability in their various fields. University administrators select the winners, who receive a commemorative plaque and a $1,000 check for their hard work.

Cook, a 22-year employee on the Atlanta campus, is an associate bursar for operations. While she insists that many of her colleagues could have been nominated for the award, she believes her occupational contributions in the time of COVID-19 assisted her worthiness for the accolade.

“I previously worked at a bank before coming to Mercer,” Cook said. “Finance has always been what I’ve been interested in, and helping students is also a passion.”

Though Cook is unaware of who nominated her for the award, she was surprised that she won. In fact, she initially did not plan to go to the annual retirement and recognition ceremony where the award was presented.

“My supervisor told me to go to it because there was little participation due to COVID-19 and she said, ‘(Human Resources) needs people to be in the audience,’” Cook recalled. “That was the ruse to get me to the auditorium because I was the only one in the office at the time to keep it open for the students.”

Cook plans to utilize the money for home improvement endeavors.

“To be honest, my washing machine broke about a week before the ceremony, and I know that’s going to help,” Cook said. “As far as the rest, I have not made any plans for that yet.”

President Underwood hands Kandy Cook an award plaque
Mercer University President William D. Underwood hands Kandy Cook, associate bursar for operations in Atlanta, the Mercer Spirit Award.

Terrill, an 18-year employee on the Macon campus, is director of academic advising services in the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business. Her passion for Mercer is what she believes qualified her for this award.

“I love Mercer University, the students and the people I get to work with,” Terrill said. “I really don’t see this as a job, and I truly believe my calling is to work with students at Mercer.”

Terrill was nominated by her good friend and colleague Dr. Tammy Crutchfield, associate dean and professor of marketing, who interviewed her for the director position 18 years ago.

The number of years Terrill has spent at the University has allowed her to effectively assist students in going through the unpredictability and inevitability of life’s challenges and triumphs.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself, and one of the things that I know is that a part of my personality revolves around helping people in a tangible way,” Terrill said. “I get the privilege of watching and walking alongside amazing Mercerians year after year.”

Terrill was astounded when she learned that she won.

“I was completely shocked that I won, and I’m such a crier,” Terrill said. “When I came up the steps from getting the award, they had Kleenex waiting for me, but I wasn’t crying. But when I called my husband to tell him, I broke down and cried.”

Terrill plans to use the money for various purposes at home. She also plans to make the most out of time with her husband of 30 years, who almost lost his life due to COVID-19 complications a few months ago.

Both women expressed their gratitude for being chosen for the award this year.

“I’m honored that I was chosen,” Cook said. “A lot of employees should be eligible because everybody works so hard at their jobs at Mercer.”

“I love my job,” Terrill added. “I’m so thankful that I get to be here and get to do what I do every day.”


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