Macon, Ga. – The Board of Trustees of Mercer University, in its annual spring meeting, approved several historic motions today. The two-and-a-half-hour session was the last regular Trustees meeting of Mercer President R. Kirby Godsey's 27-year administration. Trustees took action to amend the University's charter, establish a school of music, and name the historic Administration Building.
In a final step in the discontinuance of the University's relationship with the Georgia Baptist Convention, the Trustees amended Mercer's charter to give the Board of Trustees "the exclusive authority to determine the eligibility and qualifications of any person for service on the Board of Trustees, and said determination shall be final and conclusive." This action removed all authority the Georgia Baptist Convention had in the approval process of electing Trustees.
As part of the University's commitment to sustaining its Baptist identity, the Trustees added to the charter that "no less than one-half of the Board of Trustees shall be Baptist" and to the bylaws the provision that future presidents must be Baptist.
President Godsey announced a major gift from Carolyn Townsend McAfee and J. Thomas and Julie Crangle McAfee to endow a new School of Music. The action was approved unanimously by the Board.
"The University is grateful for the deep and enduring devotion that the McAfee family has for Mercer," said President Godsey. "This gift will enable Mercer to continue to develop a stellar music program."
The music school, which will become effective July 1, 2006, will become the eleventh school of the University and the eighth established under the administration of Godsey. Currently, the Department of Music is housed within the College of Liberal Arts.
"Mercer has the most significant private music program in the region," said Dr. John Roberts, chair of the Department of Music. "Establishing a school of music demonstrates the seriousness of the institution's commitment to the professional music programs as well as to the liberal arts education."
President-Elect William D. Underwood addressed the Board to talk about a recent meeting former United States President Jimmy Carter and he held with leaders of Baptist organizations representing more than 20 million Baptists from throughout North America. Calling Mercer "the first truly independent Baptist university," he affirmed his commitment to continuing to sustain Mercer's Baptist heritage.
Board Chairman David Hudson called for a vote to appoint President Godsey to the position of Chancellor and University Professor, effective July 1, 2006. The term of the appointment is five years. The unanimous vote was enthusiastically approved.
"I have been asked by Trustees what happens after five years," said Hudson. "Well, I would like there to be five more. But, this is all [Godsey] would agree to right now."
As Chancellor, President Godsey will work on projects as assigned by President William D. Underwood.
"I am gratified by Dr. Godsey's willingness to continue service to the University in this new capacity, and look forward to our work together on behalf of Mercer," said Underwood.
Final action by the Board was a tribute to President Godsey.
Hudson said, "Dr. Godsey talks extensively about the Mercer Experience and how Mercer wants each student to make a difference in the world that only that one student can make. Dr. Godsey himself epitomizes the Mercer Experience. He has brought to Mercer a place that only he envisioned, and he has transformed this institution into an outstanding university as only he could have done. We are profoundly grateful that he chose to commit these 27 years of his life to Mercer."
He added that it is only appropriate that the historic Administration Building, with "its spires [that] point to the heavens," bear President Godsey's name. Therefore, the building, which has been the seat of every Mercer President since 1876, will now be known as the R. Kirby Godsey Administration Building. The action was approved with an extended standing ovation.