Mercer Board of Trustees Executive Committee Adopts FY2021 Budget, Approves Six New Degree Programs

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Atlanta Jesse

ATLANTA – The Executive Committee of Mercer University’s Board of Trustees during its meeting today on the Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta adopted a record $269.2 million operating budget for 2020-21, in addition to more than $30 million in federally funded research expenditures, and approved six new undergraduate and graduate degree programs while eliminating others with no or low enrollments. The committee also heard a report on preparations to return to in-person instruction later this summer.

The adopted budget includes no tuition increase for Macon undergraduate programs, the M.D. program in the School of Medicine and programs in the College of Nursing. Law School tuition will increase by 2%. Tuition increases for most other programs across the University fall below 3%, and are below market.

“During these challenging economic times, I recommended to the Board that we forego tuition increases for our Macon undergraduate students,” said President William D. Underwood. “We also constrained tuition increases in other programs to recognize the sacrifices many of our students and families are making to pursue their educational goals at Mercer. The Board’s Executive Committee unanimously supported that recommendation.”

In other action, the Executive Committee approved six new degree programs:

  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
  • School of Engineering: Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Master of Science in Engineering in Civil Engineering
  • College of Health Professions: Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology
  • College of Pharmacy: Master of Science in Health Outcomes

Academic programs that are being eliminated due to low enrollments include:

  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Bachelor of Arts and Minor in German and Post-Secondary Certificate in Leadership and Ethics
  • School of Law: Master of Laws and Master’s in Comparative Jurisprudence
  • School of Theology: Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Faith-Based Social Enterprise

The Executive Committee also approved, on President Underwood’s recommendation, that a sculpture be commissioned that would permanently commemorate Mercer’s integration, a process that began in 1963 and continues to this day and into the future. A committee was named to retain an artist, work with the artist to develop a sculpture that both captures the impact of that story and inspires future generations, and to determine the appropriate place on the Macon campus to locate the sculpture. The committee will include Allen Baldree, EDU ’74, and former University trustee; the Hon. Carl Brown, CLA ’70, LAW ’73; Dr. R. Kirby Godsey, University chancellor; Erin Keller, CLA ’08; Sam Oni, CLA ’67; Dr. Charles Roberts, CLA ’69, and member of the faculty; the Hon. Louis Sands, CLA ’71, LAW ’74, and Mercer trustee; Pearlie Toliver, CLA ’68; Dr. Mary Wilder, CLA ’54, and professor emerita; and a student representative to be named by the Student Government Association.

“A number of these individuals on the sculpture committee were personally involved in the early years of our integration and all have a deep appreciation for the historical significance of that era and the imperative of continuing to build on this legacy,” President Underwood said. “I am confident that future generations will be inspired by the product of this collective Mercer effort.”

Approval of the annual operating budget and consideration of new academic programs are typically made at the April meeting of the Board of Trustees. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the April board meeting was canceled. The University’s bylaws empower the Executive Committee of the Board to conduct business of the institution between meetings of the full Board. The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees is Nov. 6, 2020.

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Kyle Sears