Mercer University was founded in 1833 in Penfield, Georgia, by Georgia Baptists. The school, under the leadership of Baptist minister Adiel Sherwood, was named for Jesse Mercer, a prominent Baptist leader who provided a founding endowment and who served as the first chairman of the school's Board of Trustees.
Initially a boys' preparatory school named "Mercer Institute," the school at its founding consisted of a red clay farm and two hewed log cabins, valued at approximately $1,935. The enrollment was 39 students and tuition was $35 for the year. Board was provided at $8 per month, and each student was required to supply his own bedding, candles, and furniture.
From its humble beginnings in Penfield, Mercer today is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; two teaching hospitals; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program.
Its reputation for exceptional academics in an engaged learning environment continues to grow. For almost two decades, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Mercer among the leading universities in the South. The Princeton Review repeatedly ranks it in the top 10 percent of all colleges and universities in North America. The University has been named a “College with a Conscience” by The Princeton Review and College Compact and has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for distinguished community service.