MACON-- Mercer University President R. Kirby Godsey recently announced the appointment of Douglas R. Pearson, Ph.D., as Vice President and Dean of Students, effective July 1. In his new position, Pearson will serve as the senior administrator for student life services for the students attending the University's College of Liberal Arts, Stetson School of Business and Economics, School of Engineering, Tift College of Education and the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in Macon.
"The search committee was committed to selecting an administrator who could advance the University's student life programs to a higher level of service to students," said President Godsey. "The committee has succeeded with the selection of Dr. Pearson, who brings to Mercer 16 years of outstanding experience in student services administration and an in-depth understanding of student needs on a residential campus. Mercer students will benefit greatly from his leadership."
Pearson has served as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of students at the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola since 1999. During his tenure, he has been responsible for overall administration, supervision and operation of programs and services relating to judicial affairs, student government, alcohol and drug education, international student advisement, testing, disabled student services, student activities and development and orientation. He recently became responsible for directing housing and residential life, technology initiatives and Greek life. He also provides oversight and guidance to the Student Government Association budget process that allocates more than $1.8 million annually.
While at UWF, he co-founded a Student Affairs track for master's level course work. He currently serves as part of the faculty for that program in the College of Education where he is teaching a graduate-level course on "Legal Issues in Higher Education."
Previously, he spent six years in student services at Florida State University (FSU), serving as Associate Dean of Students from 1998 to 1999. In this position, he assisted in long-range planning, staff and program development, crisis intervention, and had budgetary and administrative responsibilities in the Dean of Students Department.
During his career at the FSU, Pearson was Assistant Director and Judicial Officer and then Assistant Dean of Students and Director for the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. He was responsible for the student judicial system and the implementation of the student code of conduct for more than 30,000 students. He also directly supervised, trained and evaluated all staff and interns in the office and advised the Greek judicial boards and lower student courts.
He started his career in residence life services, working at State University of New York at Potsdam from 1987 to 1990 and State University of New York at Geneseo from 1990 to 1993.
Pearson earned a B.A. degree in sociology and a M.Ed. degree in counseling and human development at St. Lawrence University, New York, and a doctorate of philosophy degree in higher education at Florida State University. He is the author of several articles related to legal issues in higher education, and his dissertation on "Negligent Liability in Higher Education" was selected by the Education Law Association and the Association for Student Judicial Affairs for the dissertation of the year.
When contacted, Pearson relayed that he has always been impressed with Mercer's reputation in higher education. He said it was his meetings with the students in the Student Government Association and the professional staff in the Student Life Division that convinced him that this was the right professional opportunity for him.
"When I visited the campus, I sensed a sincere commitment and genuine enthusiasm on behalf of the students and the staff to make Mercer the best it can be," he explained. "That excited me and I look forward to adding my talents to this group of people in building the best possible program in Student Life."
Pearson will be coming to Mercer with his wife, Mary, and three children: twin daughters, Caroline and Elizabeth, 7 years old, and a son, Garrett, 3 years old.