Mercer University Beats Duke; Prepares for Continued Growth

Shawndra Russell

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The past few years have been all about growth for Mercer University—especially in the medical sector--with a continued effort to double the number of medical students by adding more programs for aspiring medical professionals, such as their Ph.D. in Clinical Medical Psychology degree and a four-year program added at the Savannah campus. The Mercer Health Sciences Center, which opened in 2012, is another piece to help "address the shortage of healthcare access in our region," President Underwood says. 

Continuing to provide more resources for students to make that impact is at the forefront of 2014's goals. "As for 2014, we're adding some new facilities, such as the Tattnall Square Center for the Arts and the McDuffie Center for Strings' new home at the Beall House on College Street. The University will also be joining the historic Southern Conference on July 1, 2014,"says Kyle Sears, Director of Media Relations for Mercer University. There have also been discussions to offer the PA program, currently only available at the Atlanta campus, at the Macon campus too.

President Underwood, who has been at the helm of Mercer for eight years, says these efforts align with the University's dedication for "growing the impact of the University" to better the lives of not only their students but also their communities. Part of Mr. Underwood's success in this role is keeping focused on one main mission: "The soul of the university is for everyone to live lives of service." Although an arduous goal, this mantra keeps Underwood and his faculty/staff focused on the big picture instead of being concerned with being known for single or limited disciplines. This focus has served the Mercer community well in its 181 years in existence. "We've always been about preparing young people to use their gifts and talents to make an impact," Underwood says.

While upholding the traditions of the university are evident, Underwood's growth mentality led to another new venture in 2013—he started a Twitter account as @mercerprez. "My kids are in college and told me I had to get on Twitter," Underwood says, "so I'll go on and talk about issues that affect our university." A quick glance through his tweet history reveals a lot of Mercer pride for student/faculty accomplishments and Bears Athletics. 

Speaking of sports, President Underwood and the entire Mercer family have plenty to be proud of after an amazing run for the men’s basketball team in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. “Our run through the NCAA tournament, particularly the win over Duke, gave the University a wonderful opportunity to introduce millions of people across the country to the institution’s life-changing educational programs. The accompanying media coverage was unprecedented in the University’s history,” Underwood beams.

Today, Mercer is one of the oldest universities in America, and its impact can be felt across the world thanks in part to Mercer’s Dr. Ha Vo and his engineering students designing more affordable, longer lasting prosthetics for the thousands of land mine victims in Vietnam. After the prosthetics are created in the USA, Dr. Ha Vo takes students to Vietnam to fit their patients—fitting nearly a thousand victims so far, and on pace to increase that number significantly this year. Learn more about this honorable endeavor on YouTube at

Trailblazing online and off while holding true to tradition—that's Mercer University's mode of operation.

A sample of President Underwood's tweets:

"(BREAKING) Mercer Football Unveils 2014 Schedule for Inaugural @SoConSports Season"

"Congrats to Prof. Nannette Turner, 2014 Distinguished Educator Award recipient, Georgia Rural Health Association."

"Terrific Founders' Day program planned by Victoria Conley and the Heritage Life Committee. Outstanding address by Bob Hurt."

"Mercer on Mission: Vietnam…"

"@MercerYou Congrats to Mercer cello student SiHao He for winning the Cassado International Cello competition!"