President William D. Underwood was recently named Macon’s Citizen of the Year by the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce at the organization’s 153rd annual meeting on Dec. 5. Chamber member Chris Sheridan of Chris R. Sheridan & Co., who recently completed the construction of Cruz Plaza for Mercer University, presented Underwood with the award. Sheridan said that the committee unanimously voted on Underwood, who was the only person nominated for the honor.
Underwood wants to serve, wants no credit and seeks no accolade, said Sheridan. He continued to say, “[Underwood] is a thorough and clear thinker of the highest order, and he exhibits and fosters excellence in every endeavor.”
Underwood said that the award was a surprise, but that it was a “wonderful one.”
Although Sheridan praised Underwood’s accolades of leadership and service, Underwood said that “the Citizen of the Year award is a reflection of the appreciation that the Macon community has for all the great things that are going on at Mercer,” and that “honoring me is a way of honoring the university.”
Since 2006, Underwood has lead and established essential Mercer programs like the Mercer on Missions program. He additionally embraced and encouraged the student-led College Hill Corridor program. General enrollment since his arrival has increased by 20 percent, and the number of doctoral students has increased from less than 25 to more than 300.
Sheridan said, “because of the capacity of Bill Underwood’s mind, he is most effective conceiving and leading the big picture.” He continued, “Because of the capacity of his heart, he is most comfortable guiding and encouraging the individuals on the ground. And because of the combined capacity of both his mind and his heart, the Macon Chamber of Commerce unanimously presents its Citizen of the Year Award to Bill Underwood.”
Upon receiving this award, Underwood’s hope for Mercerians is that they “feel the same pride of what is going on at Mercer that I do.” He said, “My hope would be that everyone at Mercer would take pride in all the things that [Mercerians] are accomplishing.”
A video of the presentation at the Chamber of Commerce Meeting can be found on Mercer University’s YouTube account.