More than 100 students, faculty, staff and trustees gathered on Nov. 11 at the School of Engineering to dedicate the new Sheridan Mercer On Mission Center, funded in 2021 by a $10 million endowment gift from the Phil J. and Alice S. Sheridan Foundation.
The Center was designed to support the Mercer On Mission prosthetics program, its longest-running initiative that since 2009 has fitted more than 18,000 amputees in Vietnam and Cambodia. The new Center features a gait lab where faculty and students work with patients; an expanded machine shop where prosthetic devices are fabricated; and common spaces and offices that will be shared by all Mercer On Mission programs.
The Sheridan Foundation gift was facilitated by Mercer trustee and foundation board member Chris Sheridan, a nephew of the late Phil Sheridan. Phil J. and Alice S. Sheridan were longtime Macon residents who led lives of service, giving of their time, talents and financial resources to produce a lasting impact on the community. The Sheridans established the foundation to “help the poor, heal the sick and assist the lame to walk.”
“Through Mercer On Mission, members of our community live out the imperative of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Hundreds of students, faculty and staff are deployed annually to more than a dozen countries where they carry out sustainable, impactful research and service programs. Through this work, they learn what it means to live full and meaningful lives,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood in remarks during the dedication. “It is in celebration of this commitment, and the lives that will be changed for the better, that we gather today to dedicate the Sheridan Center at Mercer University — a place that will serve as a daily and visual reminder of the work of Mercer On Mission.”
“The goal of this Center is to become the world leader in understanding the real-world problems of the poor and disadvantaged and in designing innovative, high-impact and sustainable solutions that will empower them to live whole and healthy lives,” said University Minister and Mercer On Mission Director Dr. Craig McMahan, who has worked on the Vietnam prosthetics initiative since its inception with Dr. Ha Van Vo, Distinguished University Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and other faculty in the School of Engineering.
In addition to funding the new facilities in the School of Engineering, the Sheridan endowment is allowing the Center to hire additional faculty with expertise in prosthetics design, manufacture and fitting and to expand administrative staff as needed. It also funds components, supplies and travel, an increase in participation by Mercer students, and collaboration with other universities and organizations doing similar work around the world.
“I am grateful to the Sheridan Foundation and especially to Chris Sheridan, who has been involved with the prosthetics program for more than a decade. The Foundation’s incredibly generous gift will take our program to a whole new level so that we can change the lives of thousands of amputees in Vietnam and around the world,” said Dr. Vo, who as a teenager immigrated to the United States from Vietnam and whose lifelong goal has been to help alleviate the suffering that continues to result from the Vietnam War.