Mercer Board Approves Pharmacy Graduate Program, Elects New Trustees

Macon Campus sign

MACON – Mercer University’s Board of Trustees approved a Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences degree program, heard reports on the University’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic and elected new trustees during its fall meeting today on the Macon campus.

The new graduate program in the College of Pharmacy on the Atlanta campus is designed to equip students with the necessary skills to perform in academia, in the pharmaceutical industry or in government, and addresses a shortage of entry-level researchers in agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Students must complete degree requirements within three years of matriculation and complete two years in residence.

President William D. Underwood, Provost Scott Davis, Vice Provost Kelly Reffitt and Mercer University School of Medicine infectious disease expert Dr. Jeffrey Stephens walked the trustees through the COVID-19 processes, protocols and mitigation measures that the University employed to successfully return to in-person classes this fall.

Trustees were told that the keys to Mercer’s ability to preserve relatively healthy campuses in the midst of the pandemic have been on-campus testing capabilities, ongoing surveillance testing, isolation of positive cases, a mandatory face covering policy, social distancing, and a revised academic calendar to eliminate long breaks that encourage travel to and from campuses. Since fall classes began in August, the University has registered 206 positive student, faculty and staff COVID-19 cases out of 6,093 tests, for a positivity rate of 3.4%. There have been no known hospitalizations.

In other action, the board elected nine new trustees, whose terms began at the conclusion of the meeting. They include Virgil L. Adams, Macon; the Honorable Michael P. Boggs, Waycross; Marshall Butler, Macon; Ashley Amos Copelan, Macon; David E. Hudson, Augusta; Julie Whidden Long, Macon; the Honorable W. Louis Sands, Albany;  Dr. Jennifer Nunn Tarbutton, Sandersville; and J. Henry Walker IV, Atlanta. Adams, Boggs, Copelan, Hudson, Long, Sands, Tarbutton and Walker are Mercer graduates.

Trustees who rotated off the board and were recognized for their service include William H. Anderson, Macon; Thomas P. Bishop, Kennesaw; Dwight J. Davis, Atlanta; the Honorable Sara L. Doyle, Atlanta; A. Rabun Matthews III, St. Simons Island; J. Thomas McAfee III, Juliette; the Honorable Cynthia Morris, Dalton; and Barbara Brown Taylor, Clarkesville.

Macon businessman and former Board of Trustees Chairman Robert F. Hatcher, whose term ended this year, was unanimously elected a Life Trustee. He joins Jimmy Carter, the Honorable W. Homer Drake Jr., and Dr. Spencer B. King III as a Life Trustee.

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

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Kyle Sears