Trustees Approve Record Operating Budget and New Academic Programs, Planning for Additional Residence Hall on Macon Campus

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Atlanta Jesse

ATLANTA — Mercer University’s Board of Trustees, meeting today on the Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta, adopted a record $256 million operating budget for 2019-20, exclusive of nearly $40 million in federal research grants; authorized planning for a new 362-bed residence hall and parking deck on the Macon campus; and approved several new academic programs, including a Ph.D. in rural health sciences in the School of Medicine.

Continuing eight consecutive years of below-market tuition increases, trustees voted to again limit the tuition increase for Macon undergraduate programs to 2.5% for 2019-20. There will be no tuition increase for students in the School of Medicine, and law students will see a 2% increase next year. Tuition increases for most other programs fall below 3%.

The proposed new residence hall, featuring 362 beds for upperclassmen, would be built on College Street, adjacent to the Science and Engineering Building and across from Five Star Stadium, and would open in fall 2021. A 425-vehicle parking deck is also proposed to be built to offset the parking lost by the construction of the new residence hall and to accommodate the additional students living on campus, as well as faculty and staff. It would be located behind the new residence hall.

In other action, trustees approved the University’s sixth Ph.D. program and four new bachelor’s degree programs.

The Ph.D. in rural health sciences, which will be offered through the School of Medicine, will enroll its first students this fall. It is designed to prepare students for research careers focused on improving the health of rural communities. The degree is interdisciplinary, drawing from the fields of health sciences, social sciences, business and humanities, including the disciplines of mental health, sociology, epidemiology, statistics, communication, management, economics, political science and medicine. The Mercer School of Medicine’s Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities last year was designated by the National Institutes of Health as one of two rural health-focused Centers of Excellence in the country, and the only one east of the Mississippi.

A new Bachelor of Science in Education degree was approved by the board. It replaces the current minor in secondary certification program and will be offered beginning this fall through the College of Education on the Macon campus.

Trustees also approved three new bachelor’s degrees in Penfield College, which by board action today will change its name to the College of Professional Advancement, effective July 1. The three new degrees are Bachelor of Science in software application development and human computer interaction; Bachelor of Science in health informatics; and Bachelor of Science in information technology and informatics. All three undergraduate degrees are designed to equip students with skills needed in the rapidly growing and evolving technology field. The three programs will be offered online and on Mercer’s Atlanta campus beginning this fall and will be offered at Mercer’s Henry County Regional Academic Center beginning in the fall of 2021.

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Kyle Sears