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President Underwood Announces New Senior Administrative Appointments

August 9, 2010

Media Contact:
Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

Mercer President William D. Underwood today announced the appointments of three senior administrators to new responsibilities in the University, effective Sept. 1.

After serving for the last two years as Mercer’s chief advancement officer, Dr. Richard V. Swindle will assume the position of senior vice president – Atlanta. Dr. Swindle has held a dual appointment for the past two years, serving as both senior vice president–Atlanta, and senior vice president for University advancement.

John A. Patterson, who has served as vice president for development since October 2008, will assume responsibility as senior vice president for University advancement and will be based in Macon.

Dr. Penny Elkins, vice president-Atlanta, associate dean of the Tift College of Education, and the Fred L. Miles Chair of Educational Leadership, moves into the new role of senior vice provost for strategic academic initiatives and will be based on the Atlanta campus.

“This reorganization will allow Dr. Swindle to focus his time and energy on providing leadership for Mercer’s growing Atlanta campus and its Regional Academic Centers, position John Patterson to effectively direct the University’s fund-raising and alumni efforts, and enable Dr. Elkins to further expand our undergraduate and graduate degree programs for working adult students across the state,” Underwood said. “All three individuals are talented and energetic administrators who are committed to the University’s growth and development. I am grateful to each one of them for taking on these critical responsibilities.

“I am especially grateful to Dr. Swindle for assuming the advancement responsibilities in addition to his work in Atlanta over the past two years while we searched for permanent leadership in advancement. He played a central role in identifying, recruiting, and cultivating John Patterson for leadership of the University’s advancement operations.”

Dr. Swindle joined the University in 1979 and served in a variety of administrative positions until 1996, when he left Mercer to serve as senior vice president for institutional advancement at Franklin College in Indiana, where he was responsible for development, public affairs, corporate and foundation relations, alumni services and church relations. He returned to Mercer in 2003 as senior vice president in charge of the University’s Atlanta campus operations, and was named senior vice president for University advancement in July 2008. He holds a doctorate from Emory University, a master’s degree from the University of Montevallo and a bachelor’s degree from Samford University.

Patterson served as executive director of development at Mercer from 1992 to 1996, when he joined his alma mater, Oklahoma Baptist University, to serve as senior vice president for development. He held that position for 12 years before returning to Mercer in 2008. At OBU, he was responsible for the university’s major gifts programs, the annual fund, capital campaigns, foundation/corporation and special gifts, the Bison Athletic Association, Friends of the Arts, Shawnee Advisory Board, and the National Board of Development, as well as alumni and development records, special events, and development communications. He also has supervised OBU’s alumni programming and public relations operations.

Dr. Elkins has 20 years of experience in leadership, curriculum design and development, educational leadership, program planning, teaching and program evaluation. Over the last 11 years at Mercer, she has served as department chair for both teacher education and educational leadership in the Tift College of Education, and was appointed to the Fred L. Miles Endowed Chair of Educational Leadership in 2007. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Christianity and early childhood education and a master’s degree in early childhood education from Mercer, as well as an education specialist degree in education, administration and supervision from Georgia College and State University. Her Ph.D. is in educational leadership from Georgia State University. She currently serves as one of two education faculty representatives on the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, the organization that oversees all educator certification for the state, as well as the approval of all professional education programs in Georgia.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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