Message to the Mercer Community from President Underwood

May 1, 2020

Dear Mercer Community,

As final examinations wrap up and we head into what is traditionally a joyous commencement season, I want to say how proud I am of our students, faculty and staff who have effectively managed this unexpected coronavirus-altered landscape. We all have adapted to new ways of teaching, learning and working. The transition from in-person instruction to virtual learning in mid-semester required sacrifices, creativity and adjustments that would have been unthinkable at the outset of 2020. But in true Mercer fashion, you all rose to the challenge.

The experience that we have gained over the last weeks will serve us well as we begin summer school online later this month, with the goal that we will return to in-person classes in the second summer session. We will be closely following guidance from federal, state and local government and health professionals in evaluating how to safely transition back to in-person learning during the summer. Summer orientation for incoming first-year students will be modified to maintain appropriate social distancing and to follow critical public health guidelines, going completely virtual only if necessary.

I look forward to August when we will celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates during rescheduled commencements in Macon and Atlanta. Shortly after those celebrations, we will turn our attention to welcoming returning and new students for the fall. This will require a great deal of planning over the next three months to ensure a full, meaningful, and inspiring college experience across all of our programs and locations, with reasonable safeguards. I am appointing a task force to consider the many logistical issues and questions that need to be resolved before August.

I am confident that Mercer is well-positioned to offer an exceptional experience with the qualities that many students and families will view as essential today. This is especially true of our traditional residential undergraduate program in Macon. I think students and families will find comfort in our small, intimate learning environment where faculty and staff know our students by name and have a reputation for going above and beyond to attend to student needs, inside and outside the classroom. We are fortunate to have a highly-respected medical school that counts among its distinguished faculty two of the country’s leading infectious disease experts. Mercer students have ready access to this expertise through the Student Health Center. Later this month, we will have instrumentation and trained medical staff to conduct COVID-19 testing in laboratories on our campuses.

I want to thank you again for your perseverance, patience and cooperative spirit as we have navigated these uncharted waters. I look forward to seeing you in the fall.