ATLANTA – Mercer University’s Board of Trustees, meeting today on the Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus in Atlanta, adopted a record $284.1 million operating budget for 2021-22, exclusive of nearly $40 million in federal research grants, and approved a new Doctor of Public Health degree in the College of Health Professions.

Continuing 10 consecutive years of below-market tuition increases, trustees voted to limit the tuition increase for Macon undergraduate programs to 2.5% for 2021-22. There was no tuition increase for undergraduate students in 2020-21. There will be no tuition increase for students in the School of Medicine, College of Nursing and School of Theology. Law students will see a 3% increase next year. Tuition increases for most other programs fall below 2.5%.

The Doctor of Public Health degree will be offered beginning in spring 2022 on the Atlanta campus. The program will focus on preparing public health leaders who identify, understand and address the social-structural factors of health and their effects on disease patterns and health distribution among diverse and marginalized groups, and mitigation of poor health outcomes. 

Trustees were also updated on developments in the School of Medicine. Jean Sumner, M.D., FACP, dean of the School, informed the board that construction of the Columbus campus is on schedule and should be completed by the end of the year, and recruitment of faculty and students for the campus is going well. The School’s inaugural cohort of first-year M.D. students in Columbus will begin classes this fall. Within the next few years, the Columbus campus will enroll the same number of M.D. students – 240 – as the Macon and Savannah campuses.

Dr. Sumner also reported that the School of Medicine is attracting a higher percentage of students from rural areas of Georgia. Those students tend to practice in rural areas after completing their residencies, helping the School fulfill its mission of meeting the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia.

Another initiative that is fulfilling the medical school’s mission is the opening of Mercer Medicine clinics in rural areas of the state. Dr. Sumner told trustees that Mercer Medicine in February opened its fourth rural clinic, in Putnam County, joining clinics in Plains, Fort Valley and Fort Gaines. A fifth clinic, in Harris County, is expected to open in late 2021 or early 2022. 

The board was also updated on other construction projects underway at the University, including a new intramural sports complex and renovation of Wiggs Hall on the Macon campus and the mixed-used Mercer Village project on the Atlanta campus, which will include University offices, a Barnes & Noble campus bookstore and other retailers, as well as student housing. All of those projects are expected to be completed by the fall.