ATLANTA — Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner James E. Donald will deliver the keynote address to graduates of Mercer University’s Public Safety Leadership Institute during a ceremony Monday, March 6, at 1 p.m. at Mercer’s Cecil B. Day Campus in Atlanta.
Eleven public safety officers from the Metropolitan Atlanta area representing various agencies including law enforcement, rescue and fire departments will receive a certificate of recognition during the ceremony.
Donald, who retired as a major general from the United States Army, became the first African American to head Georgia’s Department of Corrections when Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed him to the post on Dec. 1, 2003. Before leading the 14,400-employee Department of Corrections, Donald had a distinguished 33-year career in the Army.
Donald retired in September 2003 as Deputy Chief of Staff for the United States Army Forces Command, where he was responsible for the development, execution and supervision of programs, plans, and policies that ensured individual/unit readiness and “well-being” for more than 770,000 active and reserve soldiers and more than 26,000 civilians. Prior to serving at Army Forces Command, he served as Deputy Commanding General of United States Army Pacific, Assistant Division Commander to the 25th Infantry Division, and Director of Operations, U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii. During his career, Donald served in numerous key command and staff assignments.
“The College of Continuing and Professional Studies is honored to have Commissioner James E. Donald as the graduation speaker,” said Billy Slaton, director of the Public Safety Leadership Institute. “The Georgia Department of Corrections plays a vital role in public safety. Currently, there are 214,482 prisoners, parolees and probationers in the state of Georgia. Graduates of Mercer’s Public Safety Leadership Institute can greatly benefit from Commissioner Donald’s views on the challenges facing public safety in the 21st Century.”
Mercer’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies offers the PSLI program for members of public safety agencies at Mercer’s Atlanta campus. Students in the PSLI program meet for a five-day period every other month and on selected Saturdays. Students can earn academic credit or continuing education certificates by enrolling in PSLI. The program, now in its third year, is endorsed by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Georgia Sheriff’s Association Inc. and the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council.
Art Williams, who was instrumental in the development of the PSLI at Mercer, said attracting students from a variety of public safety backgrounds is an important part of the PSLI. In times of tragedy such as the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, collaboration between various public safety groups is essential for the safety of citizens, he noted.
The unique PSLI curriculum emphasizes collaboration. Unlike other public safety leadership programs, which are geared toward law enforcement officers, Mercer’s PSLI is applicable to people in all areas of public safety—from police chiefs to parole officers to fire fighters to paramedics.
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University has campuses in Macon and Atlanta as well as regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County, Macon and Eastman. With 10 schools and colleges, the University offers programs in liberal arts, business, engineering, education, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, law and theology. For 16 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has named Mercer University as one of the leading universities in the South. The Princeton Review has ranked it among the top 10 percent of colleges in the nation.
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