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Scott Davis to Succeed Wallace Daniel as Mercer Provost

November 11, 2011

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

Dr. Wallace Daniel, provost since 2008, announced today his decision to return to the faculty at the end of the year. President William D. Underwood announced that Dr. Daniel will be succeeded as provost by Dr. D. Scott Davis, senior vice provost for research and dean of graduate studies, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Dr. Daniel, a renowned Russian historian, will be named Distinguished University Professor of History. Dr. Daniel will complete a biography of Aleksandr Men, one of Russia’s leading Orthodox priests of the 20th century, before returning to the classroom. Father Men was murdered in 1990 at the height of his popular influence.

“Wallace Daniel is among the most thoughtful academic leaders in higher education.” Underwood said. “He has provided principled academic leadership for our University. He has encouraged innovative and entrepreneurial thinking. He has provided a role model for faculty who aspire to be great teacher-scholars. He is a wonderful colleague. Most importantly, he cares deeply about students. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude to Wallace for his decision to join us in 2008, and for the extraordinary service he has provided as provost. I am most grateful that he will continue to serve our students in the years ahead as Distinguished University Professor of History.

“Scott Davis has demonstrated the abilities required to be an outstanding provost through his service as a department chair, associate dean, dean, and senior vice provost,” Underwood said. “He’s smart. He makes things happen. He’s not afraid of tough challenges. He’s a rising star in higher education. We could not have found a better academic leader for Mercer University.”

Dr. Daniel began his tenure as Mercer’s provost on July 1, 2008, following a 30-plus year career at Baylor University, where he served as the Ralph L. and Bessie Mae Lynn Professor of History and editor of the Journal of Church and State. From 1996-2005 Dr. Daniel served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Baylor’s largest academic unit with more than 400 faculty and 6,500 students. He also chaired Baylor’s history department from 1992 to 1996 and directed the honors program from 1991 to 2003. An honors graduate in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Daniel received his Ph.D. from the same institution, specializing in Russia.

Under Dr. Daniel’s leadership as provost, four of Mercer’s six Ph.D. programs were established, as well as two of its six professional doctoral programs. Undergraduate research has increased five-fold, seven new interdisciplinary programs have been created, an undergraduate research journal, Spires, was launched, and an Office of National and International Scholarships was established. Six of Mercer 11 academic deans were appointed during Dr. Daniel’s term as provost.

“It has been my privilege to serve our students, faculty and staff as University provost for the last three and one half years. In terms of the quality of education students receive here, Mercer is one of this country’s finest universities,” Dr. Daniel said. “I have especially appreciated Mercer’s openness to ideas, its longstanding tradition of service to humanity, and its energetic interest in exploring all questions — religious, social and political.

“As I have witnessed over and over again, Mercer is a university bent on engaged learning and discovery. Such attributes come from its Judeo-Christian heritage, interpreted in the broadest sense, and from a faculty dedicated to developing students,” Dr. Daniel said. “I continue to be inspired by the University’s vision and by the leadership of President Underwood and those with whom I have worked closely these last few years. My wife, Karol, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have served here and to have been so warmly welcomed into this community.”

Dr. Davis joined the Mercer faculty as assistant professor of chemistry in 1991. He was promoted to associate professor in 1996 and served as chair of the department from 2000-2002, when he was named associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He served as associate executive vice president from 2003 to 2006, when he was named senior vice provost for research and dean of graduate studies. Dr. Davis, who holds the rank of professor of chemistry, also currently serves as dean of Mercer’s Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics. He will continue to serve in that capacity until a permanent dean is appointed.

As senior vice provost for research and dean of graduate studies, Dr. Davis has led Mercer to expand its profile as a research institution. Externally funded research has grown by 33 percent, and the number of students pursuing Ph.D. degrees has grown from 33 to 241. Overall, enrollment in Mercer’s graduate and professional programs has increased by 34 percent, from 2,840 in 2006 to more than 3,800 this fall. During his tenure in the Provost’s Office, Mercer also had its first scientists funded as Eminent Scholars by the Georgia Cancer Coalition.

A native of South Carolina, Dr. Davis holds a B.S. from Erskine College and a Ph.D. from Emory University. He completed a post-doctoral appointment at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Davis is a member of the American Chemical Society-Organic Division; Pi Alpha Chemical Fraternity; Council on Undergraduate Research-Chemistry Division; the American Chemical Society-Division of Chemical Education; and the American Council of Academic Deans. He also is a member of Phi Kappa Phi; Sigma Xi Scientific Honor Society; Omicron Delta Kappa Society; and Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemistry Honor Society.

“I would like to thank President Underwood for the opportunity to serve as provost at Mercer University, the institution that has been my professional home for 20 years,” Dr. Davis said. “The opportunity to work with such a gifted group of deans, faculty and staff on a daily basis to enhance student learning will prove to be the highlight of my academic career. It has also been an honor to work with Dr. Daniel. Words cannot describe my appreciation for the mentorship that he has provided over the last three and one-half years. To have worked for someone who demonstrates both extraordinary leadership skills and humility on a daily basis has been an unbelievably rewarding experience.”

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 8,300 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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