MACON – Mercer University's National Alumni Association during halftime of Saturday's Homecoming football game vs. The Citadel honored 10 individuals for their many important contributions to the University.
The Alumni Association's three annual awards – the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Meritorious Service Award and Thomas Sewell Plunkett Young Alumnus Award – were presented, along with the first-ever Alumni By Choice Awards.
Milton L. Cruz (CLA '82) of San Juan, Puerto Rico, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award for serving his profession in an outstanding manner, and in doing so, bringing honor to himself and the University. The award is presented for service to humanity and dedication, which have fostered the ideals of Mercer University.
Cruz is chairman, president and CEO of Insignia Senior Living Inc. in San Juan. He previously served as president and CEO of the San Pablo Health System, Puerto Rico's premier hospital network, for 10 years. His career in the health care industry also includes tenures as chairman and president of the Puerto Rico Hospital Association and president of the Puerto Rico chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the College of Liberal Arts, and went on to earn his Master of Laws from Georgetown University, Juris Doctor from Boston University and Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Puerto Rico.
Cruz is a current member of Mercer's Board of Trustees. He – along with his wife, Aileen Rosso, father, Juan L. Cruz Rosario, and sister, Zoraida Cruz Torres – provided the lead gift for the construction of Cruz Plaza, which was dedicated in August 2013 and transformed the center of the Macon campus with fountains, brick walkways and gathering spaces, and significant landscaping.
Chris R. Sheridan Jr. of Macon received the Meritorious Service Award for his support of the Alumni Association and the University through his contribution of time, talents and financial resources.
Sheridan is chairman of the board of Chris R. Sheridan & Co. and a Registered Professional Engineer in Georgia. He has worked as a field engineer, superintendent, estimator and project manager prior to assuming leadership of his family's business in 1982. He is a past president and current board member of the Associated General Contractors of Georgia and is on the board of the Associated General Contractors of America. He is a member of the Georgia Society of Professional Engineers, chair of the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority, a member of the Georgia Board of Regents Facilities Advisory Board and serves on numerous civic boards.
He earned his Bachelor of Science in civil engineering and Master of Business Administration from Tulane University.
Sheridan currently serves as chair of both the Mercer University School of Engineering Advisory Board and the President's Club. His firm has served as the general contractor for several major projects on the Macon campus, including the Science and Engineering Building, Emily Parker Myers Admissions and Welcome Center, Homer and Ruth Drake Field House and Cruz Plaza, as well as renovation of the School of Law and Sherwood Hall.
Eleta A. Morrison (CLA '09) of Macon received the Thomas Sewell Plunkett Young Alumnus Award, which is presented to an alum who has graduated within the last 10 years and demonstrated continued support of the Alumni Association and the University through contribution of time, talents and financial resources.
Morrison teaches United States history, American government and civics at Veterans High School in Warner Robins. She also teaches social studies for the Georgia Governor's Honors Program. She previously taught at Westside High School in Macon.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts from the College of Liberal Arts and her Master of Arts in Teaching from Georgia College and State University.
Morrison currently serves on the Tift Alumnae Board of Directors and previously served on the College of Liberal Arts Alumni Board of Directors. As a student, she served on Student Government Association, Mercer Ambassadors, Orientation Leadership Team, Omicron Delta Kappa and Order of Omega and was a recruitment adviser for the Psi Gamma Chapter of Chi Omega Fraternity at Mercer. She received the Robert Cass Award in Southern Studies from Mercer and the Outstanding MAT Student Award from GCSU.
The Alumni By Choice Awards were created to recognize individuals who did not graduate from Mercer but have demonstrated sustained loyalty to the University over the years. This year's recipients are Beverly Blake, Madge T. Byington, Barbara Brown Dean, Jo Phelps Fabian, Harriet A. Newton, George H. Newton and Lesli P. Underwood.