Mercer Trustees today endorsed a new vision statement and an ambitious 10-year strategic plan for the University that calls for more than $1.2 billion in new investments in the institution’s endowment, faculty and staff, facilities and technology, and academic and co-curricular programs over the next decade.
“The Board of Trustees made a bold statement today that Mercer aspires to significantly raise its national profile and achieve a reputation on par with the finest major private institutions in the Southeast,” said President William D. Underwood. “And more importantly, the board endorsed a comprehensive plan that will enable us to get there over the next decade.”
Titled “Charting Mercer’s Future: Aspirations for the Decade Ahead,” the strategic plan was developed over the last 18 months under the leadership of the University Planning Council and with the input of trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, students, community leaders, parents of current students, and other stakeholders. The plan will be funded through aggressive expansion of Mercer’s endowment from approximately $200 million today to more than $1 billion by 2018, and by developing new academic programs and other initiatives that generate additional revenue for the institution.
Highlights from the 10 university-wide goals that make up the plan include:
· Continuing to strengthen the academic profile of entering students.
· Significantly enhancing faculty and staff compensation.
· Reducing the undergraduate student-faculty ratio and increasing support for faculty research by creating more than 80 new faculty positions.
· Dramatically increasing participation in study abroad and service-learning programs among undergraduates.
· Enhancing the residential character of the Macon campus by constructing new residence life facilities to accommodate a full four-year residential campus for undergraduates.
· Creating at least five additional Ph.D. programs and enabling at least five additional academic programs to achieve national prominence.
· Constructing $225 million in new facilities on the Macon and Atlanta campuses, at the University’s regional academic centers, and at the Medical School campus in Savannah.
· Investing more than $20 million in administrative and academic technology.
· Further engaging Mercer’s constituents to generate greater understanding of and support for the University’s mission, achievements and aspirations.
· Establishing competitive success in intercollegiate athletics while preserving and enhancing the traditions of integrity and academic achievement.
· Achieving an endowment of at least $1 billion through more effective management of the University’s endowment and expanded fund-raising strategies.
· Growing the overall enrollment of the University from 7,300 to 8,500 students.
In addition, the strategic plan calls for Mercer to redefine what it means to be a faith-based university in the Baptist tradition and establish Mercer as the world’s leading Baptist university.
The full vision statement and strategic plan are available online at http://www2.mercer.edu/UPC/Future/.
“The Board of Trustees was unanimous and enthusiastic in its endorsement of this visionary plan,” said Board Chair Robert F. Hatcher. “It is comprehensive, yet has specific and achievable goals. It is entirely fitting that, in Mercer’s 175th year, a plan has been brought forth and ratified that will position the institution for even greater achievements over the next decade and beyond.”
In other action, the Board of Trustees approved a $170.5 million operating budget for next year, an $11 million, or 6.9 percent, increase over the current budget. The bulk of the increase will fund faculty and staff raises and the first full year of operations for the School of Medicine’s Savannah campus, which is underwritten by a state grant. Tuition for most programs will increase by 6.5 percent, compared with 6.8 percent last year and 7 percent in 2006.
The board also approved three new graduate degrees programs on the Atlanta campus: a joint BBA-MBA and a master of accountancy in the Stetson School of Business and Economics and a master of science in school counseling in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies.