Mercer wordmark

Final Commencements of the Year To Be Held Saturday in Atlanta

May 17, 2007

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037 or (800) 837-2911

ATLANTA — Mercer University will hold the final four of its 10 commencements Saturday, May 19, on the University’s Cecil B. Day Campus, 3001 Mercer University Drive, Atlanta. The ceremonies will be held in the Sheffield Center.


At 2:30 p.m. nearly 150 graduates of Mercer’s Tift College of Education will hear from Sherrill W. Ragans, a 1958 graduate of the former Tift College in Forsyth, Ga., which is now a part of Mercer University. Ragans, a retired associate vice president for Student Affairs at Florida State University (FSU), will receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Mercer University during the ceremony.


Ragans began her career at FSU as a residence hall counselor in 1959. She held a variety of administrative positions and retired from the university in 2003, serving the last 14 years as associate vice president. In 2006, FSU named its newest residence hall the “Sherrill Williams Ragans Hall” in recognition of her outstanding service to the university and the community. She holds degrees from Tift College and the University of Southern Mississippi. She has remained involved with Tift College, serving as the Alumnae Association President from 1976 to 1978. After the college merged with Mercer in 1986, she became active with the University, serving on the Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2001. She is a member of the Tift College of Education Board of Visitors.


The day of commencements will begin at 9 a.m. with Peter Rhea Jones, Sr., professor of Preaching and New Testament at Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology, addressing more than 100 graduates of the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. He held pastorates at several churches in Tennessee and Kentucky before coming to Georgia in 1979 to become pastor of First Baptist Church in Decatur, where he served for 21 years. While in Kentucky, he was on the New Testament faculty of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville from 1968 to 1979. He holds degrees from Union University in Jackson, Tenn.; University of Mississippi in Oxford; Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jones is the author of The Teaching of the Parables and Studying the Parables, as well as numerous articles for journals, periodicals and books.


At 11:30 a.m., J. Truett Gannon, who earned his bachelor’s degree from Mercer in 1951, will address graduates of the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology. Gannon is the Watkins Christian Foundation Professor of Ministry Experience at McAfee School of Theology. Gannon has been pastor of churches in North Carolina, Louisiana and Georgia, and was pastor of Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Ga., from 1976 to 1997. He has provided denominational leadership, including serving as president of the Georgia Baptist Convention from 1990-1992. In addition to his degree from Mercer, Gannon earned a bachelor of divinity and a doctor of ministry degree from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. Mercer awarded him an honorary doctor of divinity degree in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the denomination and the ministry.


For the final commencement of the year, held at 5:30 p.m. for the graduates of the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics, the speaker will be 1983 Mercer MBA graduate Rebecca B. Blalock, senior vice president and chief information officer for the Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest producers of electricity. She joined Georgia Power, a Southern Company subsidiary, in 1978, steadily advancing through the ranks, including serving as vice president of Community and Economic Development. Named Atlanta Magazine’s 2006 Power Woman and the Atlanta Women’s Foundation’s 2006 Shining Star Award recipient, she was recognized in the 2006 listing of “Premier 100 IT Leaders” by Computerworld and “100 Most Influential Atlantans” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. A graduate of Leadership Atlanta and Leadership Georgia, she is a member of various boards. She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of West Georgia in addition to her master of business administration degree from Mercer. She also serves on the Board of Visitors for the Stetson School of Business and Economics.


Saturday’s Commencement Ceremonies


College of Continuing and Professional Studies

Speaker: Dr. Peter Rhea Jones, Sr.

Professor of Preaching and New Testament, McAfee School of Theology

Saturday, May 19, 9 a.m.

Sheffield Student Center

Graduates: 113


James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology

Speaker: Dr. J. Truett Gannon, AB ’51, the Watkins Christian Foundation Professor of Ministry Experience at the McAfee School of Theology

Saturday, May 19, 11:30 a.m.

Sheffield Student Center

Graduates: 40


Tift College of Education

Speaker: Sherrill W. Ragans, AB ’58, retired associate vice president at Florida State University

Saturday, May 19, 2:30 p.m.

Sheffield Student Center

Graduates: 146


Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics

Speaker: Rebecca B. Blalock, MBA ’84, senior vice president and chief information officer for the Southern Co.

Saturday, May 19, 5:30 p.m.

Sheffield Student Center

Graduates: 158


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; two teaching hospitals — Memorial Health University Medical Center and the Medical Center of Central Georgia; educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta; an engineering research center in Warner Robins; a performing arts center in Macon; and a NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit


— 30 —