COLUMBUS – Mercer University’s Board of Trustees, meeting in Columbus for the first time, today adopted a record $296.7 million operating budget for 2022-23, exclusive of more than $40 million in federal research grants, and approved two new undergraduate majors and a new graduate program.

The historic board meeting was held in conjunction with the dedication of the Mercer School of Medicine’s new $50 million campus on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, and follows Wednesday’s dedication of Mercer Medicine’s fifth rural health clinic in adjacent Harris County. The new medical school campus will allow the University to enroll an additional 240 students in its M.D. program to address the state’s critical need for additional primary care physicians to serve rural and other underserved areas.

Continuing more than a decade of below-market annual tuition increases, trustees voted to limit the tuition increase for Macon undergraduate programs to 2.5% for 2022-23. Some health sciences programs, such as the RN-BSN and Ph.D. programs in the College of Nursing and graduate public health programs in the College of Health Professions, will see no tuition increases next year. Law students will see a 2% increase next year. Tuition increases for most other programs fall in the 2.5% range.

An interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts degree in statistics will be offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Macon beginning in the fall. Mercer will be the only university in the state to offer a B.A. in statistics, a discipline that is becoming increasingly important in a data-driven society.

Trustees also approved a new Bachelor of Business Administration degree in supply chain management. The program will be offered by the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business in a collaborative effort with the School of Engineering beginning this fall. It will be taught in-person on the Macon campus, in a blended format at the Henry County Regional Academic Center, and will have an entirely online option. The COVID-19 pandemic has created logistical nightmares and exposed myriad vulnerabilities in supply chains. This new program will prepare graduates to meet needs in a new and more complicated era of supply chain management and logistics.

Finally, the board approved a new Master of Science in applied data intelligence and machine learning in the College of Professional Advancement. The program initially will be offered online only but in the second year will also be taught in-person on Mercer’s Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta. It is designed for students who have an academic background in information technology, informatics, software development, computer science, statistics and related fields, and will have an emphasis on artificial intelligence and data science.

The board was also updated on construction plans for a new $37 million pharmacy and health sciences building on the Atlanta campus. A formal groundbreaking for that project is scheduled for May 17, with completion expected in late 2023.