Mercer University President William D. Underwood today announced the appointment of Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, professor of English and director of Women’s and Gender Studies, to the position of senior vice provost for service-learning, effective July 1.
In her new role, Dr. Morgan will work to promote, support and coordinate Mercer’s work in service-learning, community-based learning and civic engagement. She will work with faculty and academic units to develop service-learning curriculum, coordinate professional development activities, and collaborate with students, faculty, advisory boards and committees to facilitate service-learning and community engagement.
“The Mercer experience engages students in challenging, holistic and transformational learning, while cultivating the virtues of practical wisdom, reflective judgment, moral integrity, ethical leadership, compassionate service, and civic engagement,” Underwood said. “The University’s vision statement calls for us to empower our students to transform communities locally and globally through service-learning, and our strategic plan calls for new strategies to engage more than 80 percent of our undergraduate students in meaningful service-learning experiences. At a recent summit on service-learning, faculty and staff participants recommended a number of strategies directed toward achieving this aspiration, including appointing senior leadership to guide and coordinate our efforts. Dr. Morgan has both a passion for engaged learning and demonstrated leadership skills, and I am pleased that she has agreed to accept this important responsibility.”
“In the years that I have been teaching service-learning courses at Mercer, I have been impressed and humbled by our students’ intellect, drive, and creativity in using the knowledge that they’ve learned in the classroom to serve our community, whether locally here in Macon or internationally through Mercer on Mission,” Dr. Morgan said. “Our students are hungry to address challenges such as poverty, educational inequities, violence against women, and lack of access to health care. As they awaken to their agency in the community through service-learning, education takes on a new, deep purposefulness. I look forward to working with students, faculty, and community partners to advance their vision of yoking service and learning for our common good.”
Dr. Morgan, who joined the Mercer faculty in 1997, will serve as an advocate within and outside the University for the values of lifelong civic involvement and for campus-community engagement. She also will chair the University’s Service-Learning Council, which provides advice on strategic directions for service-learning and advocates for serving-learning, particularly within Mercer’s Quality Enhancement Plan.
She will help build on Mercer’s strong tradition of fostering engaged learning and moral development, as evidenced by Mercer’s standing among the top 10 percent of peer institutions in each of the National Survey of Student Engagement’s benchmarks for effective educational practice and its selection by Campus Compact as a College with a Conscience.
Working out of the Provost’s Office, she will manage personnel and budgets in support of the program and coordinate fund-raising efforts to underwrite service-learning programs.
“Dr. Morgan is an accomplished scholar in her academic field, a respected faculty leader, and a colleague who is especially skilled in relating classroom teaching to real-world experiences for our students,” said current Provost Horace W. Fleming Jr. “She has played a major role in the development of this service-learning initiative at Mercer. We welcome her to the provost's staff.
“The further deepening of service-learning is an academic priority at Mercer University, as the 10-year strategic plan articulates,” said Provost-Elect Wallace Daniel, who will also take office on July 1. “Dr. Morgan is an excellent person to lead this important venture. A faculty member strongly dedicated to Mercer, Dr. Morgan has been heavily involved already in service-learning; she has the vision, experience, and commitment to students that make her well qualified to provide this leadership. It would be difficult to conceive of an administrative appointment that would offer more benefit to students.”
A native of North Carolina, Dr. Morgan holds an undergraduate degree from Duke University and earned her master’s and doctorate in American literature from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is married to Gary Richardson, chair of the English department, and they have two children: Matthew, 24, and Kathleen, who will be a freshman at Mercer next year. Dr. Morgan will be leading a Mercer on Mission service-learning course on the literature of protest to Cape Town, South Africa, this summer. She also serves on the board of Crisis Line and Safe House of Central Georgia.
“With a strong commitment to service-learning and wide experience as a teacher and a leader in the College of Liberal Arts and the community, Dr. Morgan will bring energy and real vision to this new position,” said Dr. Richard Fallis, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “She truly ‘walks the walk.’ I look forward to her leadership in building on Mercer's excellent traditions of community engagement and innovative teaching.”
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah; three regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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