MACON – Mercer University's College of Continuing and Professional Studies will become Penfield College of Mercer University on July 1 to better reflect the breadth of its academic offerings – which range from workforce development certificate programs to a Ph.D. program – and its emerging status as a national leader in meeting the educational needs of adult learners from all walks of life.
The College's new name, approved by the University's Board of Trustees on April 25, has deep historical significance at Mercer. Josiah Penfield, a businessman and member of the First Baptist Church of Savannah, provided a $2,500 bequest "for education" that enabled Georgia Baptists in 1833 to found Mercer in a rural Greene County community named Penfield in recognition of Josiah's bequest. The University relocated to Macon in 1871, but still maintains the Penfield site. The original campus includes the historic chapel, where freshmen convene each fall as part of an annual pilgrimage to the institution's birthplace, and a cemetery where University namesake Jesse Mercer and several former Mercer presidents are buried.
"We know the faculty and students, as well as the College's 4,500 alumni, will take great pride in and inspiration from the name Penfield College, given the significance of the Penfield name in Mercer's storied history," said Mercer President William D. Underwood. "For more than a quarter century, Mercer has been meeting the educational needs of adult students around the state, helping them to achieve their dreams of new vocations, personal enrichment, or leadership positions in their communities."
The College of Continuing and Professional Studies was established in 2003, but was originally called the College of Continuing Education when it came to Mercer as part of Tift College's merger with the University in the late 1980s. The College is committed to serving non-traditional students and currently enrolls more than 1,300 students on Mercer's campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County, Henry County, Newnan and Eastman.
Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered via campus-based, face-to face classes as well as online formats to working adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Educational offerings provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary programs that integrate theory and practice. The College also offers general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer. Current areas of study include organizational leadership, counseling, communication, school counseling, human services, human resources, informatics, psychology, public safety leadership, pre-nursing and liberal studies.
"The renaming of the College beautifully ties our work to the innovative vision of the University's founders," said Dr. Priscilla R. Danheiser, who has served as dean of the College since 2008. "Our students and graduates, like Mercer's founders, are transforming communities and organizations throughout the state. It is entirely fitting that the academic programs offered through this unit bear the name Penfield College of Mercer University."