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New President Sharing Mercer Vision Around State
July 28, 2006

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MACON — William D. Underwood, who became president of Mercer University on July 1, will be traveling the state this fall, speaking to business and civic leaders, pastors and Baptist congregations. A lifelong Baptist and son of a Baptist minister, Underwood will next speak at Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain on Sept. 10.
He will then speak at The Mercer Preaching Consultation in St. Simons Island on Sept. 24; Old Richland Church in Twiggs County on Oct. 1; the Macon Kiwanis Club on Oct. 3; Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta on Oct. 15; Milledge Avenue Baptist Church in Athens on Oct. 22; the Atlanta Midtown Rotary Club, Nov. 14; and First Baptist Church, Griffin, Jan. 21, 2007. Underwood will deliver the keynote address at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Convocation on Nov. 5 at the First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon. A complete listing of Underwood's speaking engagements is on the Mercer Web site at
Underwood is the 18th president of Mercer. Prior to his appointment, he served at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, as interim president and held the prestigious Leon Jaworski Chair at the Baylor School of Law, having joined the law faculty in 1990 after practicing law with a large firm in Dallas. In 1997-98, Underwood took a leave of absence from the faculty of the Law School to serve as Baylor's general counsel.
An accomplished educator and scholar, Underwood was designated a Master Teacher at Baylor in recognition of his extraordinary classroom teaching and was named an Outstanding University Professor in 2005. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation. He has published extensively on a range of topics and has presented a number of papers on how faith relates to higher education, especially at universities that share the historical and theological commitment of Baptists to intellectual and religious freedom and respect for religious diversity.
Underwood is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law, which awarded him the Juris Doctor degree. He graduated as class salutatorian and was an editor of the University of Illinois Law Review. Following graduation, he clerked for the Honorable Sam D. Johnson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He also holds a degree from Oklahoma Baptist University, where he met his spouse, Lesli. They have two teenage children, Jessica and William.
About Mercer University:
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education, the University has 7,300 students; 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies; major campuses in Macon and Atlanta; four regional academic centers across the state; a university press; teaching hospitals in Macon and Savannah; an educational partnership with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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