Mercer Delegation to Attend Clinton Global Initiative University

April 14, 2010

Media Contact:
Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

MACON – A delegation of Mercer students and faculty has been invited to this year’s national conference sponsored by the Clinton Global Initiative University – a program of the William J. Clinton Foundation – to highlight the University’s efforts to help amputees in Vietnam and to announce new commitments to service. Four professors and six students have been selected to attend the conference, which will take place April 16-18 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

The CGI U program partners with universities and students who make specific “commitments” to engaging the world and taking on global challenges. At last year’s conference, President Clinton highlighted the Mercer project at the event’s opening session and presented University Minister and Dean of the Chapel Dr. Craig McMahan with a certificate acknowledging the University’s commitment to provide low-cost prosthetics in Vietnam. This year, Dr. McMahan will return to update the conference on the University’s commitment, including an expansion of the effort to develop a lab in Vietnam to manufacture prosthetics, as well as delivering 100 new prosthetics during a Mercer On Mission trip there this summer.

“We were honored to have our commitment recognized last year by President Clinton and we’re very glad that they have once again identified our project to be singled out as one of the follow-up commitments that has demonstrated a significant expansion of our original commitment,” Dr. McMahan said. “It was a great honor to be recognized at last year’s event, and it is quite noteworthy to have our re-commitment highlighted in such a substantial way.”

Dr. McMahan has been asked to present a progress report for the University’s commitment on Saturday for President Clinton and a group of NGO and university presidents. Dr. McMahan will be the first one to present at the presidents’ meeting, he said.

In addition to Dr. McMahan’s presentation, three Mercer professors will attend the event to facilitate discussions among attendees: Randall Harshbarger, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies; Dr. Christopher Grant, associate professor of political science; and Dr. Mary Alice Morgan, senior vice provost for service learning and chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department. In addition, four Mercer Service Scholars have spearheaded a new Mercer commitment – 10,000 hours of community service by Mercer students on the Macon campus during the 2010-2011 school year. The students are sophomores Chelsea Flieger, JaQuaye Okai, Andrew Hyatt and Phillip York. Two other students, A.C. Davis – who is a part of the Vietnam commitment – and Beth Hyde, have also been selected to attend the conference.

Dr. Grant and the Mercer Service Scholars will also represent the University during the concluding CGI U service project on Sunday.

Mercer’s commitment to help developing countries is based on a low-cost prosthetic design by Dr. Ha Van Vo, assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Because amputees in developing countries cannot afford expensive customized prosthetics, they often must go without them. Last summer, a Mercer On Mission group led by Dr. Vo and fellow engineering professor Dr. Ramachandran Radharamanan distributed a number of the prosthetics in Dr. Vo’s native Vietnam. Dr. Vo and Dr. Radharamanan will return again this year to deliver 100 prosthetics and to set up a lab, which will be run by Vietnamese technicians trained at Mercer through a grant by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.

During his presentation, Dr. McMahan will also highlight a new service project, funded by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, to deliver prosthetics to Haiti. The pilot project will help amputees in Haiti, where thousands have suffered amputations as a result of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince. Dr. Vo will also travel twice to Haiti through a grant by the CBF, where he and five students will fit a number of prosthetics and work to set up a prosthetics facility there. The trip will lay the groundwork for what should be a long term project, Dr. McMahan said.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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