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ERIC Number: ED533261
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 264
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1249-0460-3
A Case Study of Strategies Employed by Mercer University Leadership during Its Transformation from a Liberal Arts Institution into a Comprehensive University
Nelson, Connie L.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Capella University
The study examined the transformation of Mercer University from a small liberal arts school into a comprehensive institution. The purpose of the study was to explore the historical transformation of Mercer University and the role of leadership throughout the process. The qualitative study was a historical case study of Mercer University based on archival data retrieved from Mercer's Jack Tarver library, institutional data available on Mercer's website, and interviews of 21 administrators, faculty, and staff including former president, Dr. Kirby Godsey, and current president, Dr. William Underwood. Participants were asked open-ended questions regarding the overall transformation of Mercer University, the role of leadership, and challenges faced by leadership. Additionally, secondary sources including books and articles were used. Resources depicted the strong Baptist foundation of Mercer in 1828 as a manual labor school to prepare young men for ministry. The study revealed that during President Godsey's tenure from 1979 to 2006, dramatic transformation occurred as Mercer grew from 3,800 to 7,300 students, from an endowment of $16.5 to $225 million, and expanded from four to 11 schools and colleges spread across three major campuses and three regional academic centers (Mercer University Board of Trustees, 2010). The study identified several challenges faced by Mercer leaders during transformation. Respondents described the dissent faced by leadership as it implemented transformative efforts beginning with President Godsey's decision to open a medical school to serve the previously unmet medical needs of rural southern Georgians. Increased diversity and complexity also challenged leaders to maintain a cohesive university. Additionally, finances challenged Mercer's leaders, often creating a sense of competition for resources amongst colleges and schools. Lastly, the preservation of Mercer's founding values challenged leaders as they have made transformative changes to ensure the institution remains attractive to students. Former president Godsey's expansion of Mercer in order to fulfill the institution's Baptist-oriented mission and current president Underwoods' continuation of this vision was attributed to: creating and maintaining a clear vision, facilitating shared governance, imposing high expectations, taking entrepreneurial actions, appreciating and managing dissent, role modeling, obtaining the support of the Board of Trustees, and building positive external relationships. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Georgia