3. Challenges  

3. Lack of resources aside, what challenges do we face?



CATEGORIES NUMBER OF COMMENTS CATEGORIES NUMBER OF COMMENTS

Campus Culture / Atmosphere

47

Community Engagement / Ethics

21

Tuition and Funding

47

Decision Making / Accountability

19

Faculty and Staff Workload / Compensation

39

Nontraditional Programs

18

Technology / Facilities

39

Research and Development

17

Communication / Marketing

38

Security and Accessibility

14

Comprehensive Structure

34

Baptist Heritage

10

Diversity / Cultural / International Awareness

28

Athletics

9

Competition

22

Student Qualifications

7

Focus / Identity

21

Miscellaneous

20

 

Campus Culture / Atmosphere

47

Student retention can improve with a more student-friendly campus -- shops, restaurants, a cinema, etc.

Admin.

Transitioning the culture of the organization that was established by a long-standing previous administration to the present/future administration

Admin.

Reconciling our identity as a "private" organization that exists in a physical location and climate that begs for more social involvement from the institution.

Admin.

Lack of community and sense of shared vision. Lack of communication flow. Lack of diversity. Perception of Macon, i.e., lack of vibrant community, crime, desire of graduates to stay here, etc.

Admin.

Increasing student interest and participation in student led organizations is a challenge.

Alum

Mercer must remain invested in Macon. To draw students who can pay to attend Mercer, especially those from out of state, Macon must be a fun and attractive town. Many who come here see Macon, especially the area where Mercer is located, as the ghetto. Working with the city (and perhaps with the Medical Center) on downtown revitalization, then, is a must. Once Macon is a better place to live, and has shopping close to campus and where the students are, they will stay through the weekends. This can only help increase retention rates.

Alum

Location is a challenge. Your location in Macon is an issue.

Alum

Ability to accommodate, maintain quality and support services with growing student body.

Ext. Const.

I would like to second the response to the college town. I would like to see the experience and feel of a college town here in Macon. Why is Ingleside Pizza on Ingleside? Need to develop area around the campus.

Ext. Const.

Finish the connector, so Mercer University Boulevard doesn’t dead-end. We need to connect Mercer University to the downtown.

Ext. Const.

Problem in re-energizing faculty of the College of Liberal Arts, especially in the arts. Look at what happened in Savannah, GA with SCAD.

Ext. Const.

Attracting students to Macon is a challenge. Bibb County Public Schools are a challenge.

Ext. Const.

One barrier is the location. I think that might affect attendance to athletic events.

Ext. Const.

Brain drain of the community—Need to keep bright kids here.

Ext. Const.

We need more things on campus that attracts and keeps students here

Faculty

Mercer must also work on its culture, within the ranks of students and the ranks of faculty and staff. What is there that transforms a student into a Mercerian. What is the common experience of undergraduates? There must be some transformational experience that binds student and alumni to Mercer. Just as importantly there should be an environment on campus, without an agenda, that invites informal gatherings of faculty and staff. There is much to be achieve by simply encouraging the people to get acquainted and talk.

Faculty

Mercer must also continue to work with the community and the city to improve the neighborhood that surrounds its campuses, both residential and business districts. Particularly, business must be persuaded to invest in the area. There should be eateries and coffee shops within walking distance of the campus.

Faculty

There are few ways for us to get together. There is no faculty commons, We don’t have a faculty dining room. Where do we get together?

Faculty

Our college/schools don’t share a common calendar, yet we say we are a university.

Faculty

Our professional schools don’t really identify as being a part of Mercer

Faculty

How can we develop a college town atmosphere?

Faculty

The disparity between working in an academic setting with all of its benefits, and the poverty "state of mind" in the city and county. It seems that in a community where there are three major colleges/universities that there would be a more urbane way of life. Yes, Macon offers the arts, it has great health care facilities, there are many services (largely unknown to many), and other benefits; however, people who move here often comment about how disjointed we all are. People new to the area cannot put it into words, but one would think with all the intelligence developed in this town that the culture and politics would not be so crude, and that we would have a better sense of who we are as a city, county, and so forth. I feel like Macon is in the teens, developmentally-- that we just don't know who we are yet. I wonder if Mercer suffers because of Macon's problems. Students often say they can't wait to get out of here because they don't like Macon.

Faculty

Recapturing the vitality and enthusiasm of the faculty. This is the spirit that has made Mercer what it is today.

Faculty

Mercer's campus borders are a challenge. The campus needs more land to expand. Also the future of Macon is uncertain. Macon has been losing population. Crime seems relatively high. We need to have Macon (near the campus and downtown) be an attractive place for students and visitors to come. Right now, it is not. It is better than it was.

Faculty

Students are losing transformational experience by focusing too much on job skills

Faculty

As a parent, I wish the student infirmery personnel were a little more caring towards the students. My daughter has not felt very "welcome" there the few times she needed minor medical attention. I realize these students are 18-22 years old but when they feel bad and have a fever, it helps to have a sympathetic ear and someone who will "pet" on them a little.

Parent

Small college in relatively small town, with limited activities

Parent

I noticed on a recent visit to campus, very few people stay on campus on the weekend. It makes it a bit of a commuter college. I'm not sure how to solve that but I have noticed larger Universities have more things the students can do nearby in town, or on campus after classes on Fridays. Not sure where I am going with this. But I am noticing it does change the nature of the experience.

Parent

Also, the area deters a lot of people. I know of several people who would have chosen Mercer if not for the questionable area a block away.

Parent

Lack of student involvement - no school spirit!

Parent

Create more common areas for students.

Staff

On campus student apathy

Staff

Macon is not a college town – weekends in Macon

Staff

Location: are we a metropolis or deadville -- the perception may be problem

Staff

There needs to be more additional activities on campus; ie., a place to play ping-pong, shoot pool, even bowling. The UC is wonderful but not everybody wants to work out all the time.

Staff

Some staff don’ t seem to know what they are doing and don't seem to care, UC Food Court

Student

Too much emphasis on the Greek system

Student

Student apathy on campus in regards to campus events and activities

Student

Find a way to keep people on campus on weekends/Macon doesn't have college town atmosphere

Student

Mercer is conservative – policies are too strict – alcohol policy, visitation policy

Student

Almost impossible to enforce rules (visitation & alcohol policies) and enforcement is inconsistent

Student

The judicial system need to be reviewed

Student

Keeping people here over the weekends is a challenge. Most students leave to go to Atlanta.

Student

Have to get past people not wanting to come to a small town in Georgia

Student

Attending class at a Regional Academic Center is convenient, but it also insulates me from the university "body". Service projects are not advertised very well at the center, and it seems they may not even be a topic of concern. The challenge faced by the university is how to incorporate the students at the regional centers into this part of university life. A staff and student coordinator could make this a reality, by simply organizing projects that model the Baptist tradition. I know most people at the regional centers have extensive responsibilities such as families, work, and school, but a few well thought out projects every year would be beneficial to the Mercer image, and the student body.

Student

Need more Centers activities: RAC softball team, workout facility

Student

Centers are an anti-family style

Student

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Tuition and Funding

47

Affordability for many qualified students is a challenge, particularly non-traditional students

Admin.

Public funding for public education (GA HOPE and other states' programs, particularly Florida and Tennessee

Admin.

Finding our "niche" in a sea of public organizations that can do what we do with lower tuition

Admin.

tuition costs scaring students and their family members away

Admin.

Cost of tuition

Alum

Alumni support. I think the biggest challenge in the future is to able to garner support from alumni, it is a difficult challenge but that is where most of your money to support the college will come from not from students tuition.

Alum

Scholarships

Ext. Const.

The increasing cost of educating kids. The Hope Scholarship is tremendous competition.

Ext. Const.

Hope Scholarship is a challenge.

Ext. Const.

The vision statement might suck away resources from Mercer as it is; take resources away from what we’re already doing

Faculty

Several said the “lack of resources aside” statement on this item is ridiculous, even ludicrous.

Faculty

If the discount rate is lowered it may cause a decrease in the diversity of the student body; poorer students may not be able to come.

Faculty

We cannot ignore the lack of resources. Ferrol Sams in the "Whisper of the River" says "The powers at Willingham...were experts at maintaining dignity and prestige on a shoestring..." We need to work hard to expand the endowment and improve funding at all levels so that we are beyond being on a "shoestring." In particular, we must begin courting alumni for donations from the moment they graduate. The small donations that new graduates can make will get the graduates into the habit of giving and serve as a breeding ground for large donations later. I know of alumni from even the medical school and law school who did not receive alumni mailings for many years after graduating. We should not leave out this group (or any other) of graduates from our list of potential donors.

Faculty

As a department chair, the budget is very challenging.

Faculty

Lack of resources... In addition, Mercer should enhance its efforts re: funding of research activities through outside sources.

Faculty

funding

Faculty

A new focus on research is hampered by a lack of university support funding. Realize that in order to have a substantive research program full-time graduate students are required. In the sciences and engineering, graduate students receive full tuition and a stipend. However, if we focus more on research will we have teaching assistants in class and homework graders to reduce faculty teaching time? Is that desirable?

Faculty

Cost of higher education and student debt.

Faculty

Lack of resources can't be set "aside"; that is our main problem and has been for years. The recent lay offs have severly comprised our ability to provide a Mercer education to our students. Our department has no full time secretary; the part time secretary we have is incompetant. We have no resident technology staff to maintain computers, lab equipment, A/V equipment, etc. The competant and pleasant person who worked with faculty on WebCT was fired and replaced by an incompetant, unpleasant individual.

Faculty

How much in resources will it take to grow? Question should be asked about colleges and schools opened recently.

Faculty

It’s ridiculous to talk to about challenges without mentioning resources.

Faculty

Some schools are draining resources of other schools.

Faculty

Mistakes were made. We were underfunded with most of the schools that we have opened recently. CLA is being really hurt by draining of resources to other schools. Law and Pharmacy are too.

Faculty

Resources and Resource Allocations are two big problems, but Enrollment is a huge third challenge. Our lifeblood is our students. Need to allocate resources to build on our strengths.

Faculty

Should we continue to throw money at current allocations? Could that money be better used?

Faculty

We need to make ourselves attractive to donors, foundations.

Faculty

The inevitable increases in tuition rates will, unfortunately, keep many students in the southeast from even looking at Mercer. The university has a terrific endowment fund that should be more well known. High school counselors do not seem to be very aware of the scholarship money available.

Parent

attracting bright students from diverse economic backgrounds due to the cost

Parent

Not raising tuition, etc. so high that middle class students cannot afford to attend

Parent

Rising costs, continuing to provide the levels of services to students and alumni in the face of those rising costs.

Parent

In my opinion the key to joining the elite private colleges and universities is the ability to attract higher quality students and faculty. Doing that will require resources for scholarships, faculty salaries and perks, and a serious branding campaign. Mercer has no national reputation and is thought of as a "Christian Georgia" college. It is already a very expensive university to attend, increasing the cost to the student body to provide the necessary resources for would be a self defeating approach.

Parent

Attracting top high school students. I was impressed that my son had received a schlorship, only to learn that most kids accepted to Mercer receive a schlorship. Mercer is listed as the 2nd most expensive school in Ga (behind Emory), but that is misleading. I also do not agree with the headstart program offered a week before regular classes start. My son was in this program only because we could never get a straight answer from anyone what it really was, and he wanted to move in early. Clearly, this program was not for him.

Parent

Cost of attendance is a challenge

Staff

Tuition Rate

Staff

Letting local counties know more about Mercer and accessibility to Mercer University

Staff

Finances

Staff

Mercer needs to lower tuition or offer scholarships for non-traditional students

Student

Also, the price/(credit hour) is too high

Student

Need to raise prestige of university otherwise students won’t come because of high tuition

Student

Keep scholarship money percentage to tuition the same

Student

Affordability is an issue – students who do well academically not rewarded with scholarship money (less aid than athletes)

Student

Summer sessions are too expensive and there isn't enough aid

Student

Getting funding from people outside the University. A lot of people would give now that we are out from under the GBC.

Student

Recruiting and retaining top candidiates for our law school. In order to entice individuals to attend Mercer, we must be able to offer them substantial compensation in the form of scholarships. As of right now, the people in my class who were offered full tuition to attend Mercer have been very disappointing academically. Of the 4 Woodruff Scholars in my class, zero are on the law review. Only one of the four is on Moot Court. I can say with almost certainty that none of the four are in the top 25% of the class. Wasting scholarships on people like this is NOT going to improve the law school in any way.

Student

lower cost of attendance

Student

creating a better engineering program by funding the departments…rather than treating the engineering school as the "other side" of campus.

Student

Cost.

Student

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Faculty and Staff Workload / Compensation

39

Faculty and staff too busy to take on additional initiatives.

Admin.

How can we accomplish new initiatives without continuing to be everything to everyone?

Admin.

Keep staff salaries competitive and improving staff morale

Admin.

Need adequate staffing to meet the needs of students. Just as K-12 students are changing, so are adults.

Alum

There’s a basic morale problem with many faculty thinking we’re just not good enough; Underwood spent a great deal of time showing us we’re a really good place

Faculty

Faculty compensation continues as a “goal,” unrealized over many years.

Faculty

Mistrust (low morale) by faculty occurs because this has happened before; academic programs have suffered as well

Faculty

Finding qualified nurses nationally is huge problem, few are doctorally prepared

Faculty

Make sure we have time to do things/compensation

Faculty

Recruitment and retention of faculty.

Faculty

Faculty members have so many responsibilities that we don’t have the time to create new interdisciplinary programs

Faculty

Our teaching load is a challenge. We have to make our teaching load a priority

Faculty

Salary is a challenge if we want to get the very best faculty.

Faculty

If we are to be a national university, we must attract not just students, but also faculty and administrators form a national pool. Instead of looking for individuals who will provide for a “good fit” with the university, we must look for and support individuals that will provide for a “good fit” with where the university wants to be.

Faculty

Teaching loads, committee work, etc. challenge our ability to do research

Faculty

We need to learn how to reward other things than research

Faculty

The amount of paperwork we generate limits our ability to do what we are supposed to do.

Faculty

The lack of secretarial support takes time from research

Faculty

We expect faculty to do advising but they are not paid for it. Do we really value advising?

Faculty

We need to create an environment in which it is easier to retain faculty. Macon can be a challenging place to live for non-natives. We also need to have salaries and travel monies available that are on the same level that other institutions offer.

Faculty

The College of Liberal arts has a graying faculty and will need to hire new faculty both to replace retiring faculty and to increase the size of departments in view of increased student enrollment into the future. President Underwood's goal to increase undergraduate enrollment will place additional teaching burdens on departments with respect to teaching both general education courses and courses for majors/minors. To recruit the best new faculty, Mercer will have to be (become) much more competitive with respect to not only salaries, but also teaching load and various duties. Time may actually be more important than money. Faculty need time to be creative with respect to teaching, which requires time to engage in research/scholarship, in order to be more creative in working with students. For example, even one fewer course per year in the CLA would free significant time for faculty to spend on scholarship and course/teaching development, and even time just to be on campus, in one's office, available just to talk to and interact with students outside of the formal classroom environment. This time/load/duties issue affects not only current faculty, but also (potential) new hires/faculty in the future. Given the choice between teaching seven course a year at Mercer or only six or even five courses a year at a comparable institution, a potential new hire would need a very strong incentive to undertake more teaching for comparable (or even less, depending) remuneration.

Faculty

We are losing ground in our areas of traditional strength. Faculty have been stretched so thin trying to staff our innovative programs like SCI and FYS with very little to no staff support, it has become, in my opinion, a crisis situation.

Faculty

Faculty salary (probably face loss of faculty if salaries stay stagnant); figure out how to equally reward faculty who would like to pursue a teaching track and those who would like to pursue a research track and those who would like to do a little of both. Engineering Research: typically requires a full-time graduate program and reduced teaching load, I know this is a resource issue since Engineering graduate students are usually paid to go to school.

Faculty

Resources are key – faculty are overly burdened with teaching, advising, and co-curricular and administrative duties. Faculty don’t even have the time to model goals of broad learning

Faculty

An issue with that—student teacher ratio facilitates that [personal relationship with the students]. At other schools, teachers would like to be student-centered, but numbers do not allow. Our classes are getting up in numbers. What is the tipping point? When you get too many students in your classes, you can’t give the time.

Faculty

The other big challenge would be recruiting and keeping top faculty who accomplish in their fields, and, once again, marketing those accomplishments to the general public.

Parent

Retaining and promoting staff with educational qualifications and professional experiences who will provide not only insight to developing strategic plans, but who will execute those plans to their completion.

Staff

Find staff with an instrinsic desire to promote and develop Mercer -- then develop and promote those staff -- realize the assets those staff provide Mercer.

Staff

Promoting staff with a busines acumen would be an excellent compliment to Mercer's highly qualified teaching faculty.

Staff

Technology morale for employment is low due to staff is not being paid at market value.

Staff

Staff salary. Really needs to be upgraded, we lose many talented secretaries because other places offer so much more in salary.

Staff

I believe it is very important to make sure the staff at Mercer feels appreciated and secure. Due to all of the cutbacks there is a sense of paranoia, even for empoyess who have worked at Mercer for many years and have been very loyal employees. Encouraging statements were directed at the faculty in the faculty/staff meeting, but no real encouragement was directed at staff. There is no sense of job security. In essence, staff members are the first contacts with prospective students and are the ones who work more closely with current students on a daily basis. It is very important that they feel a sense of pride in Mercer and feel that Mercer is as loyal to them as they have been to Mercer. We have a large number of staff members who are in daily contact not only with our local community, but with others throughout the state and beyond. At this point in time, I believe this is an urgent need for Mercer.

Staff

Lack of salary. I know that you know this is an issue. However, this area has shown NO IMPROVEMENT in many, many years! I am a single individual. I have no family to support, no mortgage (as long as I continue to work at Mercer owning my own home will never happen) and no school loans to pay off. However, this is a constant struggle for me. I spend my money, what little I get, wisely. By the time I pay my bills (rent, electric, groceries, few doctor bills, two credit cards) I have nothing left. I cannot even afford to put money aside and save. If I had a car payment, I don't know what I would do--this scars me!?? As a matter of fact, I have a second job. I think if you were to ask many employees the question, "how many of you have a second or third job?", you might be surprised at the answer. I think it is ridiculous that I am an educated individual, with 16 years experience and yet I don't even make $30,000 a year. Heck, I don't even make $28,000 a year!! The truth is that I do enjoy working for Mercer, but I can't continue to afford it! I am currently looking for other employment because if I don't, I will soon have to have 3 jobs!!! I don't think it's a lot to ask for. I am 34 years old and would love to own a house of my own, but as I said earlier, that dream will never be realized as long as I continue to work here.

Staff

Retaining quality, qualified faculty and staff. Paying salaries that will encourage employee retention. Either changing upper level management that keeps asking for input, but never changing their ways and continuing to make the same mistakes, or getting them to attend management classes offered by the business school which would teach them they are managing to the least common denominator and their management style is killing employee morale and loyalty.

Staff

Staff have been underpaid for the past 5 years.

Staff

As a staff member, there is a lack of advancement opportunities with-in the University. Mercer educates many staff members and then lets them go without trying to obtain any return on their investment. I think that's an area that is overlooked.

Staff

Lack of faculty positions with a growing student body.

Student

Business School faculty turnover (4 in Business/6 in Education/10 CCPS)

Student

Faculty turnover

Student

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Technology / Facilities

39

I believe in the near future the largest challenge we face is software. Mercer has fallen behind in technology. If you research the software other universities are using you will find that many of them use Banner. Many of our internal systems are not integrated ,which then leaves room for error. I believe with new software and staff training Mercer can excel and surpass our competition. We can become a much more efficient University from a business perspective. I think the addition of software such as Banner Web and Campus Loan Manager would be a great benefit to us. I know that cost is an issue but I believe choosing cheaper software like Peoplesoft that is not as widely used amongst Universities will not help us improve. I fear if we do this in 10 years we will find ourselves in the same situation we are now, no support and updates.

Admin.

Increase residential opportunities on campus [Atlanta Campus]

Ext. Const.

Apartments, classrooms, and space will need to grow when student body grows.

Ext. Const.

Technology is critical to the future of this institution. The opportunity is connecting to the world. That’s the biggest challenge that this institution faces.

Ext. Const.

Given that the funding situation improves, the focus of the funding must be on what actually goes on in the classroom and research lab. We need to improve our teaching facilities so that departments have adequate and acceptable spaces for teaching. We must address the lack of technology access on campus. We need significant numbers of full-size computer labs that students can access at night and that faculty can teach in during the day. (Indeed, my teaching is limited in some courses by the lack of large labs for use by full-size classes.)

Faculty

We need to have more of a presence on the Internet.

Faculty

In order to have more on-line courses you have to give faculty more support

Faculty

Mercer must also make strides in improving its infrastructure. Our academic buildings compare very unfavorable with other institutions. It is a real blight to have molding, leaking facilities without even the advantage of hot water.

Faculty

Mercer’s library holdings must be made to reflect the academic nature of the institution. The lack of access to technology must be address. The campus must become wired or we will be hard pressed to attract those students born in a technological world. The faculty must be provided the resources and encouraged to learn to make use of technology in ways that can add to connect with and teach these students.

Faculty

The Macon campus is energy inefficient. There is no committee that looks after this. We are not smart in using the resources we have. We are building new buildings that are not energy efficient.

Faculty

FRS being difficult to understand and hard to keep up with

Faculty

Facilities and enrollments. At this stage we are being very careful not to talk too much about enrollment growth, but the target of achieving a national identity (see next question) of any kind will not be achieved at our current size. While many folks are already concerned that we need to improve our facilities to serve our current student population, this concern just barely scratches the surface of this institution's need for a comprehensive plan to gradually improve/expand facilities while also expanding enrollment.

Faculty

At Mercer, I would like to see better office and classroom facilities (I work in a building without hot water). Also, an on-campus daycare (such as those at Samford and Rice) would be a great recruiting tool for both mmen and women with children.

Faculty

Another crucial challenge is staying abreast of the effects of the use of technology by students on their academic standing and the general environment of the university's academic system. The myriad of technological "gadgets" used by students, and the wealth of online services that are available to them, can affect the quality of their experiences on campus and put a strain on our (the university's) ability to effectively "manage" the situation in a way that students are not hurting themselves or negatively affecting the quality of the experiences of others.

Faculty

Another significant challenge is the lack of technical references and refereed technical journals in the library. In environmental engineering, there are numerous on-line journals that we have access; however, there are significant fees to print out the articles. Having inadequate reference materials and refereed journals makes it extremely difficult to develop fundable proposals and to have our students write literature reviews etc. For example, the following journals: Journal American Water Works Association, Water Research, and Water Science and Technology are three prestigious journals that our students should have access in order to write technical papers and proposals. These journals are on-line, but there are exorbitant fees for downloading a single paper. Students and faculty must have access to this type of material.

Faculty

Don't know what resources we have and don't have so cannot address resources anyway. But let's be clear, all change requires resources of some kind so any challenge mentioned here will require resources. However, the issues of finding resources or re-prioritizing current resources will be left aside. We are challenged to update to and then maintain MODERN "teaching" capabilities. To start with, the majority of classrooms should be multi-media equiped and permanently so that faculty need not spend 10 min before every class conquering equipment setup problems. Our classrooms are prehistoric which is OK for a valuable subset of teaching styles but severely hinders our ability to also develop powerful modern teaching styles. To put it another way, Macon State facilities should embarrass Mercer.

Faculty

A challenge is to more fully develop electronic resources.

Staff

Build on electronic resources and continue with upgrades.

Staff

Buildings need repairs. Computers are constantly needing to be upgraded.

Staff

IT (technology – we are even close to being competitive) impacts communication both in and out of the Mercer community, effects recruitment

Staff

Condition of older buildings on Macon campus – ie student center, older residence halls – will affect recruitment

Staff

Need a review of all facilities to develop a master plan

Staff

Need better use of technology to market to new generation of high school students – texting, facebook, myspace

Staff

Technology in the school room is changing. Their expectations for tech. increases with each year. Our opportunity is to adapt to these changes to keep pace with the students.

Staff

Behind in technology

Staff

Classroom space, not enough general classroom space.

Staff

Quality of facilities

Staff

WebMail is a problem, slow, is a pain to use, extremely difficult to use off campus

Staff

Keeping up with technology.

Staff

Other programs attmepting to move in on our local resources, as for anesthesia - programs attmepting to rotate through the Medical Center and/or start up other similar programs locally. Additionally, for anesthesia, we will soon be at an all time high in numbers of programs.

Staff

Mercer needs to purchase new printers for the computer room (Henry)

Student

Advancement in technology. The online classes should be downloadable or sent to students so the students can watch the professors teach.

Student

Maintaining campus buildings and appearance

Student

Renovate older building – Newton chapel, Hardman

Student

Some parts ( Art Building) of campus are being ignored

Student

Condition of Plunkett hall, Grover hall - Mercer will lose more students if we don’t keep up older buildings

Student

Don’t let budget cuts interfere with quality of Mercer (even little things make a difference (ie pool time clock not fixed)

Student

Don’t expand at cost of quality

Student

Although the facilities are already very nice, I think continuing to build new bildings and programs is a must.

Student

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Communication / Marketing

38

1. Getting past the stigma of Georgia's "Other" engineering school. The "Other" sounds like the 2nd fiddle/ last resort Georgia Engineering school. 2. The idea that Mercer is a conservative baptist university. Anyone attending any classes at Mercer knows this is not the case. The faculty for the most part are very liberal but not to the point where open mindedness is shunned. Mercer was not my first choice because I believed it was a small conservative baptist school. Luckily Mercer was my only option and I was able to see what Mercer was really like through my courses and interaction with peers and professors.

Alum

We need to keep an edge. Have a deep discussion and don’t get too complacent.

Emeriti

Communication is a challenge

Ext. Const.

National identity will help with communication

Ext. Const.

Many are unfamiliar with Mercer's Atlanta Campus and are only familiar with Mercer's Liberal Arts School in Macon.

Ext. Const.

Lack of visibility from the interstate. Though isoluation keeps the campus safe, it is a weakness because of the lack of knowledge that Mercer is here in Atlanta.

Ext. Const.

Getting the word out as to what is Mercer? One of the huge challenges is getting the word out. It's a marketing story.

Ext. Const.

Need a person to work with at the University. We’ve had this with Peter Brown, but not everyone knows that. (Need a community liaison)

Ext. Const.

One of the challenges is the community’s attitude toward Mercer University. They see it as a little school.

Ext. Const.

Mercer is challenged to have more of a presence, to become more known.

Faculty

We have a marketing challenge. How do we tell the Mercer story?

Faculty

We need to communicate more with each other, but our communication system inhibits it.

Faculty

Mercer is still not well known nationally. The Baptist image around the country is politically conservative and heavily doctrinal. And many of the faculty simply do not want to see changes, especially those who have been here for many years.

Faculty

Even people in Georgia forget that we're here. An Altanta faculty member told me recently that parents at her son's high school in Atlanta are surprised to hear that she works at Mercer. They ask, "Didn't they close?"

Faculty

I've only been here a little over a year, but I've noticed a serious lack of communication both on the Macon campus and among all of our campuses. I think that e-mail should be used to announce upcoming events (I can hit delete if I'm feeling overwhelmed). Often I hear about events only after they have passed. Faculty and staff should be invited on the Pilgrimage to Penfield, but I didn't even know when it was happening last year. I think the departments hosting events assume that people are aware of them when we aren't, and then they are disappointed with a low turnout. I work in the library, which is a great place to announce events, lectures, concerts, and other activities of interest campus-wide. Encourage people to place flyers and posters in heavily trafficked areas of campus such as the UC, the library, and the FFC, not just in their own buildings.

Faculty

Lack of visibility and identity with the community [ Atlanta].

Faculty

Mercer seems to have a major marketing problem. Faculty believe in the tenets of broad and liberal education, but many incoming freshman seem to only want job training (pre-pharm, engineering, pre-nursing, etc.). There is thus a huge disconnect between what the faculty try to do in the classroom and what the students want out of their college experience. Programs such as EAP only contribute to this dichotomy; it is yet to be determined if the change to GAP will help. The admissions office needs to do a better job of selling Mercer to the correct high school student population so that the students who come to Mercer are those who most agree with its ideals. This job does not belong to admissions alone, but faculty, staff, administrators, and students should all share in interacting with prospective students to better get the message across about who we are.

Faculty

Again, I think the challenge for Mercer is to establish a state/national reputation for offering obviously superior programs in select fields while promoting the quality of the school in general, the individual attention received by students, and the ability to continue your education at Mercer. The strategic plan for marketing the school in a way that accomplishes this goal is a challenge.

Parent

Mercer is an excellent university, but is little known outside of Georgia. Do you plan to have an active outreach program to other areas of the country? Elon University in NC seems to recruit a large number of northern students attracted by the warmer weather and value based tuition compared to northern universities. Even locally many people I talk to are not aware that Mercer has a law school and medical school - what are you doing to get the word out locally regarding the incredible academic offerings of Mercer University?

Parent

Publicity towards enhancing reputation beyond regional

Parent

Finding a way to get Mercer more nationally known in broader circles

Parent

Due to competition in Atlanta, there needs to be more publicity and awareness in Atlanta. (Less “Macon-centric”) Have we clearly identified competitors in Atlanta?

Staff

We need to get the word out about who/what we are (also opportunity)

Staff

Internal marketing: making sure everyone knows what resources are available on campus. Often someone has a problem and has no idea that others have the solution

Staff

Still confusing about what office does what. Have to be independent and find things; information is not sent out. Telephone book that works

Staff

Some communications are too lengthy, and thus get deleted. Only two people read Univ. Calendar daily.

Staff

The challenges of getting our name to prospective students outside of Georgia and keeping them enrolled once they arrive.

Staff

How to get information out and notifing other departments of changes. When a job moves from one area to another, no one is told who to contact and a lot of time is spent looking for some one to help you.

Staff

Communication is the biggest challenge I have seen. The different schools within the University seem to operate on their own and communication between all of them would benefit everyone.

Staff

Lack of marketing. Mercer does not have a presence in the metro-Atlanta area. Lack of networking with agencies and employers who hire our graduates in the Atlanta area.

Staff

We must raise public awarness of our University through the entire south. Mercer needs publicity.

Staff

We need to have more national name recognition, we can achieve this with greater research publication and visibility of our graduates

Staff

The Atlanta campus desperately needs marketing. Whenever I tell someone I work at Mercer, they ask me if I commute to Macon everyday. No one seems to know we are here. I did not even know that Mercer had an Atlanta campus until I applied for a job here and I am a life long Atlanta resident.

Staff

Lack of name recognition in metro Atlanta area. Our lovely Atlanta campus is well-hidden from most metro commuters (thankfully). We need to get more folks on campus. With that said, we'll probably need more parking here.

Staff

Marketing and accessibility are challenges. You have by far the most respectable and respected program. Top leaders in my field know that you are providing the best education out there today. How do you market that in a nation that is providing cheep, easy to obtain masters, specialist, and doctorates. Do you have research on the long-term benifits of having your quality education compared to the others. I know that people will pay the price for choosing the whimpy way out to get an education, but why are companies still paying for these degrees. Can you market the difference in your education/degree compared to other schools? It should help to grow your number of students.

Student

Marketing of non-tradtional ( billboards) give wrong impression of school (traditional campus)–

Student

People don't know about Mercer University.

Student

More publicity that we exist

Student

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Comprehensive Structure

34

Our size is a challenge because we are small yet comprehensive

Admin.

Our comprehensiveness in terms of programs and locations is expensive.

Admin.

Systematic program review is a must in order to denote programs of distinction and programs that may need to be eliminated.

Admin.

The breadth of our programs and locations presents opportunities as well as challenges

Admin.

Availability of a complete education in one general area. I have a minor in business and had to travel from Covington to Douglas County to attend two to three times a week. There is not a flow between the evening classes and the day classes. It would be nice to have the three hour block classes offered in the daytime, not just at night.

Alum

The lackluster performance of some of the University's programs should be reassesed and those programs not performing up to par should be cut. The highest performing programs should not have to "carry" the persitent losing programs year after year.

Alum

A lot of people get their CLA degree, and then they get the professional degree, so they are only known for the professional degree.

Alum

A challenge that I see is the degree offerings beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Alum

If campus were to grow its programs and enrollment, how would Mercer maintain humanity, friendliness, safeness, and basic character?

Ext. Const.

Challenge is to grow programs, but to keep it on a human scale.

Ext. Const.

Have to have enough property to grow the University.

Ext. Const.

Mercer libraries need to be involved when new programs are offered

Faculty

Collaboration is crucial between colleges, libraries, technology support services and other support services when new programs are offered. Keeping things integrated allows for a seamless transition and will allow for less scrambling after the fact.

Faculty

It appears at times that Pharmacy and Nursing are viewed separately from the rest of Mercer

Faculty

Maintaining quality in all academic programs

Faculty

It is a challenge to balance new and interdisciplinary programs with our traditional programs for traditional students

Faculty

Our infrastructure is a challenge because it does not encourage collaboration between colleges and schools.

Faculty

Whether or not a non-platitudinal mission can bring together the disparate elements of the university into a more coherent whole, or whether we remain affiliated by name and leadership, but in no educationally substantive way. Related to this is the question of whether the professional schools (which seem to have the best opportunity for growth) do in fact, share the educational mission of CLA.

Faculty

We bring in students marketing pre-professional programs but when they get here we do little about providing programs that meet their needs.

Faculty

Fragmentation of effort is a challenge in the institution. Are already limited resources dispersed too widely in an attempt to support "everything."

Faculty

A different challenge with respect to teaching, especially in the CLA, is the current trend toward pre-professional training. Too much emphasis on pre-professional training threatens traditional liberal arts education. Too many students have tunnel vision about rushing through their undergraduate education in order to get to pharmacy school or medical school or law school, for example. These students have little interest in the benefits of liberal arts education because all they see are the dollar signs of pre-professional training. Students who lack an interest in liberal arts education make it difficult (if not impossible) to teach a liberal arts education. The more that Mercer emphasizes and recruits students for pre-professional training, the more the College of Liberal Arts becomes simply a service unit for the "real" schools of the University, as the University pays lip-service to the notion of liberal arts education but has subordinated it to vocational-technical job-training.

Faculty

Combine: Adult learning with traditional learning for nontraditional students

Faculty

We need to bridge the gap better between liberal arts and sciences

Faculty

At what point does our own organization (large number of colleges) get in our way of accomplishing our mission

Faculty

Academic departments and schools are compartmentalize-the right hand does not even know that the left hand exists

Faculty

Setting up registration rules that are the same for all colleges. The rules should be the same for CPE as the Residential programs. Less confusion would occur if all students were required to register via the web, email or with a paper trail. Phone registrations with no physical back up is often given as a reason for cause many changes in registration after deadlines.

Parent

Rather than covering so many disciplines and trying to "do everything," identify aspects within particular disciplines to focus on.

Staff

Multiple campuses seem to be a financial challenge. Is this affordable?

Staff

"Multi-campus" institution (all are Mercer University students -- no matter what location).

Staff

All of us need to educate ourselves on all parts of the university, so as to better operate as one rather than as separate units / all faculty and staff functioning as one university

Staff

Not much cross-over between faculty and staff, this results in lost resources

Staff

The Cohort campus's are a bit far....I didn't know the information regarding the site location of the cohort before I began the add-on educational leadership course. I would have liked to know that information before I registered. I have an hour commute during the week to get there. I assumed that it was at the Mercer Campus ( Atlanta).

Student

Equal acknowledgement of all departments, art department ignored and not respected

Student

Academics aren't consistent between colleges – need qualified faculty and increase in research funds

Student

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Diversity / Cultural / International Awareness

28

diversity in our upper administration

Admin.

We are not a diverse institution. We claim to be open and welcoming but do not have leadership that supports the claim. The challenge is to walk the talk.

Admin.

Diversity (in Macon)

Alum

What focus have we had on the diversity? The students who are recruited? What are we doing on that? It’s not just color; it is international students, gender.

Alum

Pay attention to the demographics of the aging population in local area.

Ext. Const.

As you acquire more national prominence, then you’ll lose some of the ability to be diverse. Want a rich culture where students can exchange ideas. Keep your diversity.

Ext. Const.

Maybe Mercer could help with race relations.

Ext. Const.

Don’t want to become an “exclusive” university.

Faculty

If we increase international students, then we must increase diversity of faculty as well.

Faculty

Although our campus is diverse, I have seen otherwise good faculty leave who were uncomfortable working with new, diverse peers. I have also seen faculty leave due to the chilly climate they found at Mercer. Other universities have diversity training and programs and I would like to see Mercer University have the same.

Faculty

We have been focusing most of our efforts on students of the traditional age. Where are our adult students? Where are our Hispanic students? What are our international students?

Faculty

We used to have many Florida students who had diversity

Faculty

We must give eastern students some focus. This is the future.

Faculty

One challenge that is glaring is the lack of diversity among the faculty and administration. The South has an emerging and evolving demographic, an academic institution of Mercer’s reputation must not be behind the curve in attracting and maintaining a well qualified and diverse faculty and administration that is reflective of the population that we serve.

Faculty

Another challenge is, for the sake of the national reputation we desire, to overcome the provincial character of our student body (and to some extent, our faculty), without disrupting the personal and local character of the university.

Faculty

We have a diverse student body, but our faculty and administration is not diverse. Where are the African Americans, women, etc. in administration and faculty?

Faculty

We don’t celebrate the diversity we have. Just look at our Web sites?

Faculty

Mercer also has a definite old boys network in certain sectors. We need to promote more women and those of various socioeconomic/religious backgrounds to positions of power.

Faculty

I think Mercer needs to integrate global cultural awareness into all curriculum. Culture extends far beyond the "black and white" issues and should not be the focus in higher education. Higher education institutions need to focus on international cultural awareness to be competitive in todays world. (See - Globalwork: Bridging, Distance, Culture, and Time by Mary O’Hara-Devereaux, and Robert Johansen(1994); or Internationalization in U.S. Higher Education: The student Perspective. American Council on Education by Green)

Parent

Capitalize on increasing international population of students.

Staff

International students also face difficulties in obtaining a social security card or driver's license. In the case of a social security number, they're expected to have started a job. Student athletes who are on scholarship do not always or usually have an on-campus job, especially during their athletic season. Their scholarship, however, requires them to file tax forms that require a social security number (not an ITIN number). So unless the social security office fudges on their own rules, our student athletes are not able to file tax forms (such as the W4-NR) which allow them to be taxed at a more favorable rate, saving them hundreds of dollars.

Staff

Relative to the law school program, rules for taking the Georgia Bar exam that make it quite difficult for international students to go through the law school with the aim of taking the exam. They have to apply for the exam six months ahead of time, showing proof that they will be in legal status at the date of the exam. They can only do this by obtaining a work permit that they can only apply for within four months of graduation. Few international students have been willing to pursue the program knowing they'd have great difficulty taking the bar at the end of it. Letters pleading the students' case have helped, though with grudging acceptance of their circumstances. This, however, is an issue we have with state politics.

Staff

Since 2001 – Federal and stafe regulations regarding international students

Staff

Diversity of recruitment

Staff

Diversity, Quad works tries to provide opportunities, but not much effort across campus

Staff

More diversity for students, especially inclusion of African American students so they feel part of the community

Staff

We need to increase the diversity of our student body especially in the professional schools.

Staff

I believe their are not enough prgrams directed toward the knowledge of growth of African Americans on Mercer's campus. Now that black history month is almost over I would like to ask how many programs, trivia nights, or anything else that displays the contribute to life that African Americans have impacted upon. Besides the lectures of Renita Weems and various black history facts displayed on the dry erase board in the foreign language lab, what sufficient awareness and or steps has Mercer University and your organization taken?

Student

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Competition

22

Competition from other schools like GA Tech and Emory

Admin.

competition from state schools that are touting programs that make them seem more intimate and student-centered

Admin.

Mercer faces competition from surrounding schools, especially University of Georgia and Georgia Tech

Alum

Greater state investments in housing and regional facilities for public colleges in the Atlanta Metro. The preception that the school is too expensive to attend. Emory University has greater national name recognition. We could use a public relations firm to promote the school.

Alum

The biggest challenge is competing with schools because of the Hope Grant. Free is difficult to compete with.

Alum

Competition with the Hope Scholarship

Alum

Speaking to some of the competition, Macon State is partnering with some businesses.

Alum

Competition from local, more well known universities

Faculty

How can we set our MBA apart from others -- MBAs are everywhere

Faculty

Pharmacy has less competition locally, but still has competition from UGA, Savannah, and Tennessee

Faculty

I think the biggest challenge that Mercer faces is competing with the HOPE scholarship for higher calibre students. So, I guess making the Mercer Brand more well-known and more prestigious WITHOUT being unattractive to students. Prestige and tradition are attractive to students and their parents.

Faculty

The major challenge is Mercer's ability to compete with state schools of higher education.

Faculty

We are in danger of loosing students to other schools for graduate programs. We need to create opportunities for undergraduate programs to be direct connections to graduate programs to retain our students for graduate school. College students are enrolling in graduate school much sooner than in the past. If, we can catch them before they leave Mercer the first time, that would increase our revenue, student retention, relationships across disciplines, etc.

Faculty

Need to get beyond mindset that we are competing just for GA students. Mercer needs to attract more students from outside of GA. The student experience is limited by the lack of geographical diversity of student body

Faculty

State schools are fierce competitors. What programs can we develop that state schools cannot take away?

Faculty

Competition for students with state-supported institutions, who offer widespread "brand identity" (i.e.: UGA football, mascots, etc.)in attracting students; getting high school seniors to realize that a quality education is more important than being one of the great "quantity" at these large institutions

Parent

to deliver an educational experience that is also entertaining enough to compete with schools who have already recognized (and catered to) the changing face of the millennium student.

Staff

Also, how do we grow and maintain our uniqueness that sets us a part from the larger universities...no classes with 350 students...emphasis that the student will not get lost in the machine of education but grow and thrive.

Staff

There is no lack of competing colleges and universities, and a lot of them charge a whole lot less in tuition. Mercer has to show that what you get here is absolutely worth the extra money.

Staff

Understanding and promoting what Mercer wants to be. Helping ALL who work at Mercer to understand Mercer's basic identity, mission, and goals.

Staff

Competition with non-traditional educational programs - i.e. length of courses, offering classes online.

Student

Increased competition from other universities. Deciding which graduate school was hard. The fact that the school had a good reputation and catered to adults drew me here-nothing else. I think more schools will try and follow your lead. Maybe you should look at more offerings, like combined graduate programs-MBA/MSE. There is a lot you could do with what you already have.

Student

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Focus / Identity

21

MU must be clear as to what it is and what it has to offer. Such a unified vision is attainable, but with some difficulty.

Admin.

Mercerians lack the ability to talk about who we are as a whole. Most know their own area/program, but not much more. Also, there are a number of misconceptions about segments of the Mercer community that we, ourselves, perpetuate. To better understand this, all you have to do is ask faculty and students in CLA about the Center students or ask anybody about Upward Bound (a US Dept. of Education program that has been on the Mercer Campus for 30+ years). Mercer has to learn to love and respect all of its parts. Another challenge is to move Mercer away from being all things to all people and to find that common element that unites us, gives us something to celebrate, and provides a common language.

Admin.

Because the campuses and centers are scattered throughout the state, there is no common Mercer experience or identity. Some academic units that are part of this univeristy only begrudgingly admit it. I do not understand how a national Baptist identity can be forged, then, if we don't even have an agreed-upon university identity.

Alum

Mercer had a tradition of being a place of opportunity for students; trend lately has been toward more gentrification. One of our challenges as we do more with service-learning, community engagement—is to question whether Mercer is still a place of opportunity for students.

Emeriti

A University is universal. How can you possibly maintain a sense of focus?

Ext. Const.

The historic split with the Georgia Baptist Convention—there’s now an identity issue.

Ext. Const.

Focus -- we're too busy on too many different things

Faculty

We should pour resources into doing what we do well and not add things to the vision

Faculty

We need to be viewed as one unit rather than different or individual units with differing quality

Faculty

Who are we--have several identities (strong liberal arts, accredited Business school, strong professional program) how do we best decide to market who we are getting our message outside Georgia explaining the National Baptist identity and how it differs from SBC

Faculty

I believe our biggest challenge lies in the apparent dichotomy in attitudes concerning what Mercer is and should be, and the innate fear that somehow the ideals and identity so strongly held by one School should be threatened by the actions and/or identity of another. As a newcomer, this became evident to me when the idea of Mercer as a “research institution” was mentioned. These ideals that seemed so insular to me at the time were difficult for me to rationalize, and my only potential explanation thus far is that the apparent lack of periodic intellectual influx that, for example, Graduate Students provide has allowed these territorial attitudes to develop over time. I am concerned whenever I hear people in fear of being “forced” to attempt some sort of scholarly activity. I believe that each of the Colleges and Schools must have its own identity, and that it is perfectly acceptable for these identities to differ from one another, while still upholding the character and values espoused by the University as a whole.

Faculty

Leadership without vision or ability to make effective change -- or, leaders that like the status quo

Faculty

We need to develop an authentic vision for Mercer University; we should be all about doing what no one else is doing, not just becoming another Wake or Emory

Faculty

How are we going to continue to define ourselves as Baptist and continue to encourage freedom of thought/ethos/etc? How are we going to attract students outside of GA if associated with Baptist? While we should define ourselves as good southern university –There is a significant challenge in being associated with the south and with Baptists.

Faculty

One of the weaknesses of Mercer's "image," is that it is not "best known" for any particular thing -- kind of a "Jack of all trades, master of none" situation. In order to attract the best and the brightest students, Mercer should emphasize a few outstanding strengths in its marketing, while playing up the quality of the institution as a whole.

Parent

Expansion of university system

Staff

What kind of on-campus culture? More research based? Athletic? Where do we want it?

Staff

in order to put our best foot forward, we must all agree with what our best foot is.

Staff

Mercer's reputation is at stake. Leaders at Mercer don't seem to understand what it takes to get the full support of the Christian community. For years Mercer has been known in local Christian circles as "that liberal university that takes Baptist money."

Staff

Developing a cohesive Mercer identity which transcends campus location.

Staff

Recognize that we cannot "be all things to all people."

Staff

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Community Engagement / Ethics

21

Strengthening the goodwill of Mercer University throughout the area

Ext. Const.

The neighborhoods around here need to continue to be re-gentrified. Have to reestablish these old neighborhoods.

Ext. Const.

Perception of the public with Mercer University is a problem. Some people in public see the brick wall as separation from the community. Isolation and exclusiveness are problems.

Ext. Const.

The Medical School doesn’t always reach out to the community. If you want business to come to Macon, you need excellent health care. That’s a challenge to the community that Mercer could help with.

Ext. Const.

Regional relationships are also important. Mercer could help lead some of those relationship buildings.

Ext. Const.

Mercer needs to hire someone with the expertise to go into the community build and bridge relationships. This person would need a different focus than that of admissions or advancement

Faculty

Mercer staff & faculty need to buy into the need to build community relationships - one person cannot do it alone

Faculty

We need to do a better job of getting Mercer service- learning projects publicized locally

Faculty

We need to create a culture of engagement with the communities with which we are involved

Faculty

A major challenge is to overcome our own inertia and to get staff & faculty to see that involvement it the community where I teach and work is important

Faculty

We need to make sure that Mercer is known in the community

Faculty

Want to stay a service-oriented conscious-driven institution.

Faculty

Beyond the classroom, we need to continue to work with the local community to improve the neighborhoods around Mercer. Our ability to recruit new students and faculty will continued to be tied to the neighborhood around and the safety on our campus.

Faculty

The biggest challenge that I think we face is maintaining and improving our connection with the community. It seems that there are certain organizations that always receive help from Mercer students but there are several right at Mercer's backdoor that do not receive the same priveleges yet have children who could one day be Mercer students. Because of this, it seems that our students are being sheltered when it comes to having the opportunity to experience life outside of Mercer.

Faculty

The Macon campus is the key to building the University. Its location is both a blessing and a curse. Clearly there is room for another elite university in the southeastern United States. Rural Macon, with its proximity to Atlanta, is a great location. The community surrounding the Macon campus presents several challenges to the aspirations of the university.

Parent

Mercer and Macon have done a wonderful job improving the area around the University. I appreciate the community involvement. It would be nice if more could be done.

Parent

Macon doesn’t always support Mercer University

Staff

Ability to recruit and retain best staff available – again problem with Macon Community and Mercer community

Staff

Macon actually hurts Mercer University.

Student

The way that downtown looks is discouraging.

Student

MCCE -- Law students woud have much to contribute to community service

Student

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Decision Making / Accountability

19

Decisions must be based on data. Accountability makes us think and work in a different but exciting way.

Admin.

Staff do not feel as if their voices matter.

Admin.

We have little experience with planning because we have not planned collectively in our university's history.

Admin.

Mercer University 's complexity is really the result of inefficiency and lack of planning

Admin.

We need to discuss the culture change within the University. We need to trust the process. We need to really follow our policies and procedures and not have a double standard. We must be accountable.

Admin.

With a new president we have new energy that will set the stage. We need to look forward and base our future on excellence in education, research, and principles. There must be high expectations on our faculty to produce, our leadership to lead, and support those who do so. Accountability within our faculty is important. Building upon our professional schools and development of more doctoral programs would help.

Admin.

unless we have very clear priorities & confidence that the priorities will be resourced

Faculty

In developing doctoral programs, a thoughtful analysis needs to occur… while building infrastructure, internal library resources and thinking the whole process through

Faculty

Lobbying for the Brain Train felt rewarding. We could have more organized lobbying for Mercer University interests

Faculty

The challenge is choosing those programs and strengths that can move the university forward

Faculty

Of course the greatest challenge is to overcome the mindset of inertia of our faculty and the people of the region when we begin to try new and different approaches to deliver the knowledge and training for new and current students in our region.

Faculty

Weakness is the administrative micromanaging that holds back academic departments

Faculty

A major challenge that has plagued Mercer is the administration’s unwillingness to value and incorporate ideas from the faculty. Important decisions have been made by Vice-presidents, Deans, and Department Chairs without discussion or involvement from their constituents. Second to this is the problem that most administrators are totally removed from the classroom and have forgotten what it is like to be in the classroom. The infrastructure to support and reward faculty is nonexistent. Other challenges concern competition with major universities such as UGA, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Auburn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Alabama that are well established and have nationally renowned programs. Many of the CLA faculty are still in the mode that Mercer should be a liberal arts college and are unwilling to work and cooperate with their counterparts in other programs and colleges across campus.

Faculty

Less "top-down," more grassroots decision making.

Staff

Mercer Communications with staff – don’t know what is going on on campus

Staff

Communication: we communicate, but are we really saying anything. Don't know broadly what is happening across campus. Often people are not notified of changes

Staff

It is not enough to be told. We must agree. So then, the challenge is having enough good communication from the top downward to establish a unified front line. We achieve what we believe...so let's all believe the same thing.

Staff

In efforts to expand programs, avoid poorly planned expansions and new programs that we cannot support or offer competently.

Staff

Select what we do well and focus on making that better

Staff

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Nontraditional Programs

18

Internet, fast track programs are one challenge facing Mercer. Although I am a supporter of traditional education, many cannot afford to actually attend classes due to work schedules, etc. Unfortunately, we live in a society where everyone wants everything "now".

Alum

Loss of continuing education programs offered on this campus [Atlanta Campus]

Ext. Const.

One of the barriers is that we don’t have enough flexibility in our system. Wants to audit courses, but wants to possibly later get a degree. If he chooses to audit courses, then cannot have courses count toward a degree.

Ext. Const.

The growing recognition of the importance of undergraduate education options for "non-traditional," "mid-career," "adult" students, and the development of programs (such as the one at Creighton University) where people in the community may gain certificates through certain groupings of general education courses, either as a "bridge" to college or as a way of continuing one's general and professional education after graduation, suggest a need to expand our idea of when general education occurs.

Faculty

The president has given us an analogy about the challenge of trying to be a car dealer when a state-owned car dealership opens up and gives away its cars, but we might take that analogy a step further and ask if we shouldn't be preparing for a time when the current dependence on the traditional infrastructure for fueling cars and developing cars are changed (like the aborted and partial attempts of various car manufacturers to develop "smart," "hybrid," and "flex-fuel system" cars). Might the RACs, with the support of the University as a whole, play a role as the division devoted to developing forward-thinking alternative transportation models?

Faculty

We need to expand our presence of online courses.

Faculty

More online classes. Students call and ask for these.

Staff

There is little or no alumni service outreach for graduates from the Center programs.

Staff

The strong appeal for online classes.

Student

Stop treating all grad students like fresh college grads

Student

Satellite campuses has negative impact on reputation – decreases integrity of school, drain money and attention away from main campus

Student

Centers are a weakness – build what we have in Macon and Atlanta and have non-traditional students here- there are too many campuses

Student

Advising and orientation for RACs

Student

Access to advising is also important in RACs

Student

Length of classes (i.e. 5:30-9:30); consider shorter classes (i.e. 2 nights per week)

Student

Class selection for programs -- especially for INSY

Student

Lack of GACE workshop

Student

RAC student services: 1 day a month

Student

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Research and Development

17

Also, in order to be a leading private research institution, one has to attract high caliber students interested in research and also professors who are interested in research.

Alum

Wake & Duke have Ph.D. programs; Underwood said we don’t have to have research in all departments but there is some doubt. Are we going to be the one example of that quality of school that doesn’t have that level of research; we’ve just hired a group of faculty who want to focus on teaching, not research.

Faculty

Many of the schools do already have a research component and focus.

Faculty

Keeping up on the fields of knowledge, offering programs that are in the times, desirable degrees

Faculty

Plan to become a research university (building infrastructure)

Faculty

It is possible to do significant research even without the money that is often cited as an excuse for not trying anything. Other institutions that we seek to emulate (such as Emory and Wake Forest) are noted for their discoveries in science, medicine, engineering, .... In my experience involving direct contact with several world-famous individuals responsible for such discovery, I have observed three common characteristics: (i) giftedness, (ii) contagiousness, and (iii) tirelessness. Although Mercer probably has some gifted people, I don't see evidence that they have been motivated to exhibit qualities (ii) and (iii). Health in the workplace must balance (in total) the opposing forces of extra-academic activities (sometimes an excuse for laziness) and intra-academic workaholism. I know that I am an unbalanced individual, immersed in the latter. But because of it, I see what I believe to be a serious unbalance at Mercer. This unbalance is the antithesis of workaholism. On the numerous weekends and holidays over the last nine years, during which I have spent countless hours on the Macon campus tending to experiments, I have seen little evidence for tireless devotion to discovery of the type that would allow Mercer to 'make a mark' for herself, comparable to what has been demonstrated by the institutions we seek to emulate.

Faculty

The missing component for us to do research is there is nothing in place to reward us for doing research

Faculty

Another challenge is finding quality new Faculty willing to try to succeed at Mercer. When I arrived, I recognized that it would be a challenge to attract extramural dollars and find time to cope with the transient nature of an untrained student workforce. I was comforted by the promise of an Administration that seemed to be looking favorably toward research. As new MUSM Faculty, it worries me to hear that the University Administration may feel that the Medical School does not need help in terms of research, because I believe we remain among the bottom tier of Medical Schools in terms of extramurally funded research dollars.

Faculty

A research accounting and management process that helps the researcher find, develop, write, submit and implement grants without the overdone emphasis on protecting the institution.

Faculty

1. Lack of proper research oriented leadership at the college, school, and department levels 2. The squadered opportunities, that is still ongoing, in proper use of the Atlanta campus 3. Marketing of our programs

Faculty

Grant processes and procedures - ease of university approval.

Staff

Professional development opportunities for staff

Staff

Is there an interest or willingness to invest money in research of new fields of technology? e.g. nanobots. It would take several individuals investigating the idea to determine which topics to pursue. We would be competing with schools and centers such as GTRI, U of Florida, or Penn. State.

Staff

Staying abreast of progressive methods for overall governance. Change can be challenging and overwhelming, and sometimes avoided at all costs. Logically, older faculty, alumni, and supporters will probably not encourage the changes needed to meet the needs of this year's entering class of students. I, personally, still have not purchased an MP3 player. The wisdom of older faculty, alumni and supporters is invaluable, but it is said that "a child will lead them". By any means necessary, Mercer must reach its younger (or newer) staff, faculty and students, and its potential students for guidance on addressing their current and future needs; whatever those needs may be. Older, traditional institutions must embrace change.

Student

Staying on the "cutting edge" so Mercer remains a top choice for a diverse population of students. Choosing and keeping professors who are the best in their field.

Student

Quality of teachers in business school going down – need to focus on what is here at Macon business school

Student

I am not an on-campus student; therefore, I can only speak from my limited perspective as a distance student. I think Mercer faces the challenge of every university in the 21st Century: keep up with technological growth and provide competitive graduates. I am very concerned that we remain at the cutting edge not only in America but around the world. Our overseas counterparts are willing to work for almost nothing and they are at least as well educated as we are. How can we show potential employers that a Mercer graduate is more cost effective, productive, and inventive than someone overseas? Better yet, how can we use our Mercer degrees to turn globalization and outsourcing to our advantage? These are the challenges I see ahead for Mercer.

Student

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Security and Accessibility

14

Driving through a near ghetto to get to campus does little to attract students or faculty. Students have too many bad stories to tell about people being attacked on campus. Improved security is a must, NOW!

Parent

Campus Safety

Staff

Parking, not just parking, but safe parking, lighting, streets

Staff

Safety for those on the periphery.

Staff

Saftely not just for those on periphery…but for everyone.

Staff

For some parking is an issue, and it is getting worse as more students have cars. Difficulty of getting from one part of campus to the other. Challenge with directions, time, parking, etc

Staff

Students do not feel safe leaving Henry Center at night

Student

Safety on campus (particularly at night) – 20 students agreed

Student

Housing and parking are MAJOR downfalls of Mercer. Also being located in an unsafe part of Macon is also something to look into. Not that you can pick up and move but you can secure the area better and provide better security officers and cameras and fences and other means of security.

Student

how to fix the parking and housing situation on campus

Student

Parking for night students

Student

Security at night, especially for females

Student

Emergency kit: jumper cables and flashlight

Student

Off-duty officer

Student

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Baptist Heritage

10

Communicating our Baptist identity is a challenge. What language do we use, so those not familiar with the Baptist theology understand who we are?

Admin.

Maintaining a faith-based perspective

Ext. Const.

Reestablish connection with the Mercer churches, so the pastor is not the only point of contact

Ext. Const.

I think the biggest challenge, aside from resources, is the effort to figure out whether Mercer wants to be an "Open" University, where all views--religious and otherwise--are not just allowed equal access to be aired but are all held in equal esteem by the administration or a "Christian" university in the Baptist tradition which still allows for all views to be aired and held but in some way prizes/honors the distinctly Christian perspectives on campus. Deciding that question, in my mind, sets the course for how the university will market itself, how it will recruit students and faculty, and how it will posture itself in the rest of the American academy.

Faculty

Less of a religious background than we expected

Parent

Ability to obtain a "National Baptist" identity, without further alienating the "southern baptists", which grow from the GA Bapt Convention.

Staff

We need to become aware of other religious traditions/holidays

Staff

Baptist affiliation= dry campus & rules about in house visitation

Student

National Baptist identity is a serious challenge for a serious institution. It will keep some people away because they are afraid of Mercer being close-minded.

Student

We face the challenge of becoming spiritually dry in an already desertlike world. There are very few places people can go to search for the answers to life's most crucial questions. A Baptist University should be one of those places, but with pressure from the world, it will be very difficult for our University to be such a place. The world is bringing us down farther each day. Every time we give up some part of our faith to accommodate the world, we make Mercer a less inviting environment. And by inviting I do not mean a place where everyone wants to come. Everyone is not going to want to come to a place that is Christian, because Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. Some people think this claim is offensive. When we give in to those people and refrain from proclaiming in every classroom, in every University related meeting, and at every sports event that Jesus Christ is Lord, we allow Mercer to become spiritually dry. Academia means nothing without Jesus Christ. To give up Jesus for academic integrity is the same as to give up food in order to live. Without food, you cannot live. Without Jesus Christ, a University will never provide spiritual nurture for anyone.

Student

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Athletics

9

Visibility/strength of the Atlantic Sun athletic conference.

Admin.

The athletic program needs help. Our lack of any real competitive teams does not inspire alumni participation in Homecoming or any other number of campus/school events. This in turn leads to lower giving percentages by alumni.

Alum

Mercer's sports teams must improve and/or expand.

Alum

Lack of division IA athltic programs.

Faculty

Sports are the primary marketing tools for many of today's Universities, what is Mercer's vision?

Faculty

Univ. of Oregon used the same language about the students. Left for 6-7 years. Went back. The new president had decided to go with a strong athletics program. Entirely changed the student/faculty relationship. There’s a direct cost to the environment when that happens.

Faculty

Building Mercer's athletic programs into national contenders is another challenge.

Parent

Funding for athletic teams - all sports need full scholarships and soccer needs a stadium.

Staff

I think the fact that Mercer is respected as an academic institution is great, but I think the school's ability to attract students is somewhat tied to our relative lack of achievement with our athletic teams. I think there has been a move toward a greater emphasis in the sporting culture on campus. As with all american universities, part of the identity of a Mercer student is tied to their perception of the competitiveness of Mercer's teams. The overall morale of the student body improves when the athletic teams are perceived as successful. I think with a continued increase in interest and involvement of the adminstration (as opposed to lip-service and a laissez fair attitude) the overall sporting culture can change for the better. Freer access to the existing resources is key. The managers and decision makers controlling existing resources could improve the situation for teams and coaches.

Staff

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Student Qualifications

7

Quality of Georgia high school graduates

Admin.

Our professional schools do a far superior job than the undergraduate schools. Law, Med, and Engineering do a superior job. I see no different between Mercer and Emory lawyers and doctors. Undergraduate schools do not seem to reach this level. The CLA has painted itself as a small liberal arts school, but it’s done a good job of advertising itself.

Alum

The national debate about reshaping high school, including the ideas of developing an "early college" or "middle college" alternative.

Faculty

I believe that the greatest challenge that Mercer, as well as other universities, face is staying abreast of what it takes to make sure that students make sustained progress through the academic system as they proceed from one year to the next on campus. Sometimes students, whose entering profile indicates that they have the academic and social background to succeed at the university, don't progress as expected. Knowing why that happens and effectively addressing the situation will take a concerted effort on the part of the administration, faculty and academic staff of the university.

Faculty

"Underprepared" and immature freshmen.

Parent

The school should be more selective and not accept average and below average students mainly for their ability to pay. As Mercer becomes more selective, the reputation will grow and more students will apply.

Parent

Because you want to up attendance and diversify Mercer more, you may lower the selectivity in the students admitted to Mercer. If you want to up attendance and remain a top school, that competitiveness has to remain intact.

Student

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Miscellaneous

20

There is concern re: appointment of James Netherton; took 6 years for Carson Newman to vote no confidence. A vote of no confidence is not a frequent occurrence. It seems that we’re getting off on the wrong foot.

Emeriti

There is a great need for additional career placement services and personnel

Faculty

Maintaining academic freedom and spirit of faith.

Faculty

Its important for students who attend Mercer's undergrad program to be able to get a decent paying job after they graduate. Not everyone wants to (or is able to) go to graduate school and we should have many practical undergrad programs that allow people to get jobs right out of Mercer. For example, we should have dietician, nursing, and social worker programs on the Macon campus. The reason students go to college is to get a decent paying job. That is the #1 reason for both students and parents alike and we need to really focus on that.

Faculty

We are challenged to exert our faculty authority on academic issues.

Faculty

Our foreign language program is outdated – how do we grow/update ourselves

Faculty

Maintaining high academic standards while increasing the numbers

Parent

I think the biggest challenge that Mercer faces involves the matter of alcohol consumption and fraternity and sorority misconduct. When we attended orientation, we were informed that the Mercer campus was a dry campus and students that are caught drunk on campus would be dealt with severly. That apparently does not happen and it seems like a majority of students, or at least a good number, are visiting the bars downtown on a regular basis. There is hazing going on among the fraternities, alcohol is kept in dormatory rooms, and parties are occuring, mostly off campus, with underage people in attendence on a regular basis. The bus that is available to transport students downtown is mostly used to haul drunken students back to campus. I know this sort of thing happens at most colleges and universities, and I know it is hard to keep up with, but I do not want to see Mercer listed in some publication as a great party school. If the University truely wanted to severly curtail this activity, I believe it could be done. My son attended the Opportunity Scholars Program and one of the student assistants in one of the sessions informed the kids how get into the bars and drink, and even offered to take them to a bar during the Opportunity Scholare program, even though they were not allowed to leave campus. I could go on, but I believe what I said should be enough to make my point.

Parent

Becoming more 'customer focused,' i.e. coordinating University services with actual student needs. What comes to mind is the difficulty my child had returning to campus after the holidays, arriving after the student housing office closed. Why there weren't extended hours at such a time is beyong me. Also, we did our best to economize on book purchases, but were not able to learn of the required texts from all the instructors in time to purchase them on-line. Finally, instructors that require an expensive text, only to change their minds after the beginning of the term should be reprimanded.

Parent

Getting the student population needed.

Staff

Declining enrollment

Staff

Liberal agendas, many of which have drug Mercer, and other universities, down.

Staff

Students don’t like faculty imposed penalties for not coming to class

Student

Students find it difficult to stay focused for 4 hours

Student

Students have to wait on books from the library

Student

Students don’t know where to go with complaints concerning faculty

Student

Paying attention to education trends locally and nationwide. This is still the "business" of education. Provide progressive curricula that the public wants, e.g., Special Education Teacher program on the Atlanta campus.

Student

The challenge is the only initiative

Student

Weekend hours for food and quality of food are horrible

Student

Disconnection from the outside world, not necessarily physically, but mentally and spiritually. Mercer should continue to strive to make its academics relevant to the real world. The ivory tower needs to continually be brought down to size--it is something that should be encouraged from the bottom-up.

Student

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