Trustees Approve Two Ph.D. Programs

MACON — Mercer trustees at their annual meeting Dec. 4 approved new Ph.D. programs in nursing and curriculum and instruction, welcomed 10 new board members, elected officers for 2009, and recognized an outgoing board member as a Life Trustee.

The new doctoral programs – Mercer’s third and fourth – fulfill objectives in the University’s recently-adopted 10-year strategic plan to expand Ph.D. offerings.

The Ph.D. in nursing is designed to address a critical shortage of nurse educators in Georgia, which is contributing to a shortage of nurses. According to a recent report issued by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country are limiting student enrollment at a time when the demand for nurses is at its highest level. The program is expected to enroll its first students in Fall 2009 at the University’s Georgia Baptist College of Nursing in Atlanta.

The curriculum and instruction doctoral program joins an existing Ph.D. program in educational leadership (P-12 school leadership and higher education leadership tracks) — offered through Mercer’s Tift College of Education — that currently enrolls more than 100 students. Communities across the nation are experiencing dramatic shortages of highly qualified educators who have a commitment to lifelong teaching and learning. The Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction will help address this vital need by promoting the exchange of new ideas and possibilities across university, P-12, political and community settings. The first students in the program, which will be offered on both the Macon and Atlanta campuses, are expected to enroll in Fall 2009.

Mercer’s first Ph.D. program – in pharmaceutical sciences – was launched in 1995.

New trustees elected to serve five-year terms include James A. Bishop, Sea Island; G. Marshall Butler, Forsyth; Dwight J. Davis, Atlanta; Judge Walter Homer Drake Jr., Newnan; William A. Fickling Jr., Macon; David E. Hudson, Augusta; J. Reg Murphy, Sea Island; Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell, Decatur; and Judge W. Louis Sands, Albany. A.V. Elliott of Macon was elected to serve the unexpired term of Milton Ferrell, who died earlier this month and was memorialized at the meeting.

Judge Drake was unanimously elected to serve as chairman of the Board of Trustees for 2009. Atlanta attorney Diane Owens was elected chair of the board’s Executive Committee. Other committee chairs for 2009 include: Miriam M. (Mimi) Holland, Educational Policy Committee; Roddy J.H. Clark, University Honors Committee; Cathy Callaway Adams, Audit Committee; L. Richard Plunkett, Finance, Investment and Property Committee; Richard A. (Doc) Schneider, Development Committee; and W. Anthony (Tony) Moye, Athletics Committee.

Atlanta attorney Robert L. Steed, whose term on the board expires this month, was unanimously elected a Life Trustee, a designation only conveyed to seven individuals in the University’s 175-year history. Steed, a former chairman of the Board of Trustees, has served several terms on Mercer’s governing board. He holds undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer and was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the University in 1979.

Other trustees rotating off the board this month include Malcolm S. Burgess Jr., Macon; Mary Jane Cardwell, Waycross; the Rev. James C. Elder Jr., Columbus; James H. Hall III, Virginia Beach, Va.; Robert F. Hatcher, Macon; David E. Linch, Atlanta; Howell L. Watkins II, Miami, Fla.; and H. Al Williams, Macon. Hatcher was recognized at the conclusion of the trustees meeting for his service over the past year as chairman of the board.

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