Mercer Board Approves New Names for Two Academic Units, Authorizes Major Construction Projects in Columbus and Atlanta

MACON – Mercer University’s Board of Trustees approved name changes for the College of Liberal Arts and Stetson School of Business and Economics and authorized work to begin on major health sciences facilities on the Atlanta and Columbus campuses.

The College of Liberal Arts, the University’s oldest and largest academic unit, will be renamed the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The name change reflects the growing significance of the sciences within the University and will provide clarity for prospective students who wish to study in the sciences and are considering Mercer.

Well over half of the 2,000 students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts are majoring in science-related disciplines. President William D. Underwood told trustees that the name change will align Mercer with the nomenclature used by the region’s other leading private comprehensive research universities.

The Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics will be renamed the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business to recognize a longtime supporter and trustee. Mercer’s business school was named in 1984 for Stetson, a Mercer graduate and prominent banker who was credited with developing the leveraged buyout concept. His grandson, Macon businessman Robert F. Hatcher, has served multiple terms on the Board of Trustees over a period of decades, including serving as chair, and has been a longstanding supporter of the University.

“As a trustee, Bob Hatcher has deployed his considerable talent to advance Mercer whenever possible,” Underwood told the board. “I encouraged him to allow the University to recognize his decades of service and the opportunities he has created for Mercer by sharing the name of our School of Business with his grandfather. He has consented, so long as the name is the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business.”

Trustees gave a green light to construction of a new 76,000-square-foot facility for the School of Medicine in Columbus and a new 57,000-square-foot Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building on Mercer’s Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta. Work on both facilities is expected to begin in early 2020.

The $32.4 million medical school facility, whose three floors will house research labs, instructional space and administrative offices, will be completed by August 2021 and is being built to accommodate the School of Medicine’s expansion to a full four-year campus in Columbus. The expansion was announced last May. When full enrollment is achieved in the mid-2020s, the number of Columbus M.D. students will match enrollment on the School’s Macon and Savannah campuses (240 each) and make Mercer one of the largest private medical schools in the nation.

The Pharmacy and Health Sciences building, also expected to be completed in 2021, will house administrative, teaching and learning space for the College of Pharmacy and other Mercer Health Sciences Center programs. The new building’s design will further facilitate the University’s inter-professional initiatives involving the College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing, School of Medicine and College of Health Professions. The $37.5 million project also includes renovation of an additional 26,000 square feet of space in the DuVall Building to expand research labs for the College of Pharmacy’s expanding research activities.

In other action, the board elected nine new trustees, whose terms began at the conclusion of the meeting. They include Nathan Deal, Demorest; Heather Darden, Atlanta; Gene Gabbard, Cary, North Carolina; Kevin Head, Roswell; Stanley Jones, St. Simons Island; Yvette Miller, Atlanta; James Thomas Jr., Arlington, Virginia; Marc Treadwell, Forsyth; and Bradley Turner, Columbus. Deal, Darden, Jones, Miller, Thomas and Treadwell are Mercer alumni.

Trustees who rotated off the board and were recognized for their service include Marshall Butler, Forsyth; Ashley Amos Copelan, Macon; Patty Bridges Dash, Big Sky, Montana; Andy Haggard, Coral Gables, Florida; David Hudson, Augusta; Julie Whidden Long, Macon; Louis Sands, Albany; Ed Schutter Jr., Marietta; and Dan Speight, Pinehurst.

Cathy Callaway Adams of Atlanta and William A. (Tony) Moye of McDonough were re-elected as board chair and executive committee chair, respectively.

The Board also voted to award Dean Emerita status to Dr. Susan S. Gunby, who served as dean of Mercer’s Georgia Baptist College of Nursing from 1987 to 2009. Since retiring as dean, she has continued to teach in the College of Nursing, where her tenure stretches for almost half a century.