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More Than 500 Students to Graduate at Mercer’s Macon Commencement Saturday

May 9, 2007

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037 or (478) 952-5514

WHAT:  Mercer University’s Macon Commencement, in which more than 500 students will graduate from the College of Liberal Arts, Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics, School of Engineering, Tift College of Education, and the Townsend School of Music. More than 2,600 family and friends are expected to attend the ceremony.

WHEN:  9 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, 2007

WHERE:  The University Center Arena on Mercer’s Macon campus.

STORIES: With nearly 500 graduates, there are hundreds of story lines. Here are just a few you might consider:

· The Honorable Griffin B. Bell will give the Commencement Address. A former U.S. Attorney General, Judge Bell is a partner with King & Spalding in Atlanta. Judge Bell is a 1948 graduate of Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law and a Mercer University Trustee. In addition to his commencement speech, Judge Bell also will be inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society during the ceremony.

· College of Liberal Arts graduate Steuart Botchford will receive the Griffin B. Bell Award for Community Service during the ceremony. Botchford will be the first recipient to receive the award with Judge Bell in attendance. The award has been presented annually since 2000. Botchford, this year’s Student Government Association president, has been accepted into the prestigious Teach for America program.

· Friends since their first year at Mercer, Christy Webb and Stacey Harwell will be receiving the two major undergraduate awards at this Saturday’s commencement. During their freshman year, Webb and Harwell helped restart an after-school tutoring program at Memorial Gym in Macon.  Saturday, Webb will be accepting the Louie D. Newton General Excellence Medal, while Harwell will receive the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Harwell will also receive the Wallace Odell DuVall Excellence in Leadership Award.

· Webb, a College of Liberal Arts graduate, is a double major in history and English, as well as a participant in the rigorous Great Books and Honors programs. Webb has maintained an outstanding grade point average and earned a place on the dean’s or president’s list in each semester at Mercer. She was also named the Outstanding History Department Senior for 2007. Praised for her “generosity of spirit,” Webb has also given back to the community, to her fellow students, and to Mercer. She has accepted a fellowship at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where she will earn her master’s and Ph.D. in English.

· Harwell, a College of Liberal Arts graduate, will receive the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. She will also receive the Wallace Odell DuVall Excellence in Leadership Award. Harwell has maintained high academic standards while serving as an active campus leader during her four years at Mercer. The Presidential Scholar has earned a bachelor of arts degree with majors in journalism and Christianity and a minor in photography. She completed the Great Books program and the Honors program while maintaining a near-perfect GPA. She has held leadership positions in many organizations, both school and church-related. She will enter Candler School of Theology of Emory University next fall to begin studies for the master of divinity degree. Upon completion of her degree, she plans to work in social justice ministry.

· Ellen Goguen will graduate from the Early Childhood/Special Education program at the Tift College of Education. Goguen, a resident of Gray, is a single mother with three children who works as a paraprofessional at Dames Ferry Elementary in Gray during the day and goes to school at night in Mercer’s Macon Regional Academic Center. She has maintained a 3.85 GPA and has been named to the Dean’s or President’s list each of her semesters at Mercer.

· Keitaro Harada, an outstanding student and musician who has traveled the world, will graduate from the Townsend School of Music. Harada conducted the Moscow Symphony in Russia in 2006 and 2007 and is the conductor of the Mercer/Macon Symphony Youth Orchestra. He is also the assistant conductor for the Macon Symphony Orchestra. He has been featured on National Public Radio and will begin Mercer’s Master of Music program this fall.

· Aqeela Datoo will graduate from the Holistic Child program at the Tift College of Education. She will attend Oxford University in England this fall, where she will work towards a Master of Science in Educational Studies degree with a concentration in Comparative and International Education. Datoo hopes to work for a non-governmental organization that “assists in setting up schools in developing countries to secure their future and building curriculums that will heal their children.”

· This year’s Commencements mark the first for President William D. Underwood. Underwood took office as President on July 1, 2006.

· The Townsend School of Music will graduate its first class. The School has completed its first year as an individual entity. Previously, music students were enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts. The School was endowed by a gift from Mercer Trustee Carolyn Townsend McAfee and J. Thomas and Julie Crangle McAfee, and named in honor of Raymond Clay Townsend and Sophia Malin Townsend, the parents of Carolyn Townsend McAfee.

· The Townsend School of Music’s Master of Music degree program, begun two years ago, will graduate an inaugural class of four students.

Media interested in covering the event should contact Mark Vanderhoek at (478) 301-4037 or (478) 952-5514.