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Dortch Earns Top Honor At Mercer University Commencement in Macon

May 19, 2008

Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

MACON, Ga. — Mercer University presented John D. Dortch, of Tallahassee, Fla., with the Louie D. Newton Award for General Excellence during commencement on May 10 in the University Center. Mercer University President William D. Underwood presented him with the Louie D. Newton General Excellence Medal — one of two top awards given to Mercer undergraduate students.

Dortch graduated from the University summa cum laude with a 3.98 cumulative grade point average as an economics major with a chemistry minor. He also continues a successful college baseball career, where he walked onto the team four years ago and has become a productive member of the team’s starting outfield for three years, including this season, where he leads the team in runs batted in and home runs.

He was nominated by chemistry professor Jeffrey Hugdahl, who wrote: “John is easily in the top 1 percent of Mercer students,” who “never fails to give his best effort, either in the classroom, his research, on the baseball team or his other extra-curricular activities.”

Between his sophomore junior years, Dortch conducted chemistry research on compounds to affect the proteins that contribute to a group of diseases collectively called the Metabolic Syndrome, including such diseases as Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension with assistant professor Kevin Bucholtz. Dortch presented his findings at the Herty Medallist Undergraduate Research Symposium at Morehouse College in Atlanta. His poster was awarded the grand prize and a $500 travel award a future American Chemical Society meeting.

In addition to his success at Mercer, Dortch has sought to help others in his personal time, directing the Upward Basketball Camp League in Tallahassee, working for the Macon Habitat for Humanity and volunteering at the Coliseum Medical Center.

Following his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor, Dortch plans to attend the University of Florida Medical School this fall.

About the Louie D. Newton Award:
The Louie D. Newton General Excellence Medal is presented to the graduating student who best exemplifies scholastic achievement, personal integrity and character, service to the campus community and a commitment to spiritual values. The award is named in honor of Dr. Newton, former Mercer professor, Christian journalist, distinguished pastor and renowned denominational leader.

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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