Trustees and administrators of Mercer University dedicated a new $50 million Medical School campus on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Ga., April 22.
Mercer is the only university with historic ties to the Southern Baptist Convention that currently offers a college of medicine and awards the doctor of medicine degree; however, a new medical school is in development at Belmont University in Nashville.
Both Mercer and Belmont previously were affiliated with state Baptist conventions but in the latter part of the 20th century broke away and embarked on massive growth plans. In addition to the private university staples of liberal arts, sciences, education and the arts, Mercer now boasts schools of law, health sciences, medicine, pharmacy, nursing, health professions, engineering, business and theology.
Previously, Baylor University in Texas had a medical school, Baylor College of Medicine, and a flagship hospital, Baylor University Medical Center. In 1969, the college of medicine became independent from the university, although some overlap in governance remains. Baylor Hospital and its health system — now known as Baylor Scott and White Health — separated from the university’s oversight in 1997.
In Georgia, Mercer now offers a full four-year M.D. program on its Macon, Savannah and Columbus campuses as well as a host of other medical-related degree programs. A primary focus of the Mercer program is to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia.
Thus, two days before the dedication of the new medical school campus, Mercer also dedicated its fifth rural health clinic in adjacent Harris County.
The new medical school campus will allow the university to enroll an additional 240 students in its M.D. program.
Mercer trustees also adopted a record $296.7 million university operating budget for 2022-23, exclusive of more than $40 million in federal research grants. And bucking the tide of inflation, trustees voted to limit tuition increases for Macon undergraduate programs to 2.5% for the 2022-23 academic year. Some health sciences programs will experience no tuition increases next year.
Meanwhile, Mercer trustees heard updates on construction plans for a new $37 million pharmacy and health sciences building on the Atlanta campus. A groundbreaking for that project is scheduled for May 17, with completion expected in late 2023.
Founded in 1833, Mercer enrolls more than 9,000 students in its 12 schools and colleges and is ranked among the top tier of national research universities by U.S. News & World Report.