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Laffer Among Featured Speakers As Mercer Completes Commencement Season

May 13, 2008

Judith Lunsford
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Mark Vanderhoek
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ATLANTA — Renowned economist Arthur B. Laffer Sr. will be one of four keynote speakers at Mercer University’s final four commencements on Saturday, May 17, in Atlanta. Laffer will address graduates of Mercer’s Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics at 2:30 p.m. in the Sheffield Student Center on the University’s Cecil B. Day Campus, 3001 Mercer University Drive, Atlanta.

The three remaining commencements will also take place at the Sheffield Center, with the College of Continuing and Professional Studies ceremony at 9 a.m., the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology at 11 a.m. and the Tift College of Education at 5:30 p.m. After these four commencements, Mercer University will have completed 10 graduation ceremonies and awarded more than 1,500 degrees in Macon and Atlanta.

Mercer President William D. Underwood will present Arthur B. Laffer, Ph.D. with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the ceremony. Laffer’s economic acumen and influence in triggering a worldwide tax-cutting movement in the 1980s earned him the distinction in many national and international publications as “The Father of Supply-Side Economics.” He continues his groundbreaking work today in shaping economic thought and policy with the company he founded, Laffer Associates, an economic consulting firm.

A former professor at several of the nation’s leading universities, Laffer served as chief economist for the Office of Management and Budget under President Richard Nixon and also worked under President Gerald Ford. He is a founding member of the Congressional Policy Advisory Board, a select group of advisors who assisted in shaping legislative policies for the 105th, 106th, and 107th United States Congress. Laffer was a member of the Economic Policy Advisory Board for both of President Ronald Reagan’s terms.
To lead off the commencement lineup on Saturday, Caryn McTighe Musil, Ph.D., will deliver the address at the 9 a.m. ceremony for the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Musil is senior vice president of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, where she focuses on diversity, civic engagement and women’s issues in higher education. She serves as co-director of the AAC&U Center on Liberal Education and Civic Engagement, project director for Liberal Education and Global Citizenship: The Arts of Democracy, director of the Program on the Status and Education of Women, and co-director of the National Initiative on Women in Higher Education. She served as associate director of AAC&U’s major initiative, “American Commitments: Diversity, Democracy, and Liberal Learning.” She has served as a reviewer and outside evaluator for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Ford Foundation, and as executive director of the National Women’s Studies Association. She was named a Pennsylvania “Woman of Distinction” by the Women’s Campaign Fund.

At 11:30 a.m., Charles Foster Johnson, visiting instructor of preaching at the School of Theology and interim pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church of Nashville, Tenn., will address the graduates of the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology. In addition to the students receiving the Master of Divinity degree, the ceremony will mark the graduation of the inaugural class of the school’s Doctor of Ministry program.

A graduate of Mississippi College and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Johnson experienced the call to Christian ministry while working in the housing projects of southwest Washington, D.C., in 1977. He was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Pontotoc, Miss., in 1980. During his 30-year pastoral ministry, he has served churches in Mississippi, Kentucky and Texas. Most recently, he was with the Trinity Baptist Church of San Antonio where he helped build a multi-cultural and multi-racial community of faith. A frequent preacher and speaker in Baptist circles, Johnson has written articles for numerous publications and has made guest appearances on several cable network news shows. He was named “Baptist of the Year” by the Baptist Center for Ethics in 2004 and was inducted into the Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers of Morehouse College in 2008.

At Mercer’s final commencement of spring 2008, 166 educators and future educators will graduate from the Tift College of Education. Keynote speaker for the 5:30 p.m. ceremony will be Samuel T. King, Ph.D., a 1984 graduate of Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts and the superintendent of Rockdale County Public Schools.

Preceding his appointment in 2005, King was assistant superintendent for the district of more than 50,000 students. A member of the National Broad Academy for the urban superintendency, he has served as an educational leader in a variety of school systems within Georgia and South Carolina. With 24 years of experience in K-12 education, King has served in a variety of roles including elementary, middle and high school classroom teacher of mathematics and science, assistant principal, principal, area executive officer and area assistant superintendent. He was a nominee for the 2008 Georgia Superintendent of the Year. King has also been appointed to the “Century Club 100,” which consists of two active superintendents from each state. It is an organization that serves to facilitate an exchange of ideas and foster educational leadership.

Saturday’s Commencement Ceremonies

College of Continuing and Professional Studies
Caryn McTighe Musil, Senior Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Global Initiatives, Association of American Colleges and Schools
9 a.m.
Sheffield Student Center
Graduates: 105

James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology
The Rev. Charles F. Johnson, Visiting Instructor, McAfee School of Theology
11:30 a.m.
Sheffield Student Center
Graduates: 58

Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics
Arthur B. Laffer Sr., economist and Chairman of Laffer Associates
2:30 p.m.
Sheffield Student Center
Graduates: 162

Tift College of Education
Samuel T. King, B.A. ’84, Superintendent, Rockdale County Public Schools
5:30 p.m.
Sheffield Student Center
Graduates: 166

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, Atlanta and Savannah; three 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
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