Robert F. Hatcher, president and chief executive officer of MidCountry Financial, was elected chair of the Board of Trustees of Mercer University at its Dec. 7 meeting in Macon. A longtime Trustee of the University, Hatcher has served two previous years as chair of the 45-member governing board.
The Board also conferred its highest tribute on the Honorable Griffin B. Bell by unanimously electing him a Life Trustee of Mercer University. Judge Bell has served six terms on the Board and was elected chair in 1991. An advocate of higher education, Judge Bell believes that America and its institutions of higher education have an obligation to be a light for freedom and a source of hope in the world.
He became the first person in Mercer’s history to be designated a Distinguished University Professor. In 1986, the University established the Griffin Boyette Bell Chair of Law. He has served as general chairman of the University’s two most successful fund-raising campaigns, raising more than $500 million. The University annually presents the Griffin B. Bell Award for Community Service, the only student honor from which nominations come from all 11 schools and colleges. The award was created in 1999 after Judge Bell was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in Trustseeship by the Association of Governing Boards and Universities. The longtime Mercer Trustee was one of two national honorees (one from public institutions, one from private) from the 50,000 members who volunteer their time to higher education.
Judge Bell graduated cum laude from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law in 1948. A senior partner in the esteemed law firm of King & Spalding in Atlanta, he has made significant contributions to the nation’s legal system over the past half century, serving 15 years on the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and two and a half years as the 72nd Attorney General of the United States during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
Only five other Mercer Board members have received the honor of being designated a Life Trustee: Remer H. Crum of Atlanta, the late Gerald Saunders, the late Frank Jordan, the late William A. (Gus) Bootle and the late Tom Watson Brown.
Trustees completing their appointment to the Board were Judge Bell of Americus, Ga.; James A. Bishop of Sea Island, Ga.; the Honorable W. Homer Drake Jr. of Newnan, Ga.; A.V. Elliott Jr. of Macon, Ga.; William A. Fickling Jr. of Macon, Ga.; the Rev. Sidney A. Hopkins of Lawrenceville, Ga.; David E. Hudson of Augusta; Dr. Jerry Mahan of Moultrie, Ga.; the Honorable W. Louis Sands of Albany, Ga., and Richard V. Saunders Sr. of Columbus, Ga.
New Trustees installed at the meeting were Gus H. Bell III of Savannah, Ga.; Dr. C. Gregory DeLoach III of Augusta, Ga.; Dr. C. Bruce Gordy of Orlando, Fla.; Wm. Andrew Haggard of Coral Gables, Fla.; Dr. Spencer B. King III of Atlanta, Ga.; Sam Mitchell of Toronto, Canada; Dr. Ralph Newton Jr. of Macon, Ga.; L. Richard Plunkett Jr., of Atlanta, Ga.; Dr. William L. Self of Alpharetta, Ga., and Jackson P. Turner of Dalton, Ga.
President William D. Underwood unveiled the portrait of David E. Hudson, who served as chair of the Board of Trustees for the past two years. The painting will be displayed in the Griffin B. Bell Board Room along with those of other former board chairmen.