Mercer University and its students have been busy since the fall semester began. Here’s a rundown of some of the top news stories from campus and beyond.
Mercer breaks ground on Columbus, Ga., medical school campus
As part of its ongoing mission to expand health care access across Georgia in rural and underserved areas of the state, Mercer broke ground on its new medical school campus in Columbus Sept. 3.
The university, with the help of funding from the city of Columbus and the state of Georgia, will build a 85,000-square-foot, two-story facility, complete with classroom and office spaces, as well as simulation, research and cadaver labs and a vivarium, according to a university press release.
Mercer held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site, 1701 First Ave., the morning construction began. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston were in attendance, along with university and city officials.
Kemp said that Mercer’s new medical school campus symbolized its commitment to helping the state fight COVID-19.
“This new medical campus is a great example of Mercer’s ongoing partnership in that fight and its commitment to caring for people not only in this area but all of Southwest Georgia and rural Georgia, in particular,” Kemp said. “At a time when all lives are looking to our health care system for guidance and support, I, for one, am very grateful for that.”
Mercer’s expansion of medical education into Columbus began in the 1970s, when the school sent a select number of third- and fourth-year medical students to perform clinical rotations at Piedmont Columbus Regional and St. Francis Hospitals. Over time, medical school enrollment grew to 40 upperclassmen students, with the university beginning to teach classes there in 2012.
The creation of a free-standing Mercer University School of Medicine campus in Columbus will allow the program to enroll 240 medical students in the city. Construction is expected to wrap up in late 2021 or early 2022 with the first class of first-year medical students set to start at the new location in the fall of 2021.
Tarver Library announces commuter lounge
Commuter students will now have a convenient place to spend time between classes, thanks to Tarver Library’s newly-installed commuter lounge.
Opened in late August, the commuter lounge is located on the main floor of the library past the circulation desk and computer area. Already fitted with lounge chairs, study tables and a microwave for heating meals—a perk that will likely appeal to the many commuters who forgo a campus meal plan—the lounge will soon add lockers for students to store their books, too.
Access to the lounge is reserved exclusively for commuter students. The door will only open for commuters who scan their Bear Card, according to an email sent to students by the Office for Student Success Aug. 28.
The commuter lounge will remain open during Tarver Library’s regular business hours: Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2-10 p.m.
Students phone bank for Joe Biden
Mercer's newly-reestablished chapter of Young Democrats phone banked for Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden via Zoom Sept. 8.
The chapter was restarted by juniors Kylie Brown and Sheridan King after much of its previous leadership graduated.
“We decided to recharter our chapter because we understand that this election may be the most critical election our nation has ever seen,” King said. “We wanted to ensure that students have the opportunity to stay informed and engaged with the political process.”
One step of that goal was organizing a phone banking opportunity in support of Biden. With the help of Mercer alumna Hoor Qureshi, who now works on the Biden/Harris campaign, King and Brown made sure that each of the approximately 10 participants had the necessary resources to participate in a phone bank. They knew that for some, this would be their first time getting involved politically.
“We knew that it would be a great way to engage the students as well as educate them on the Biden/Harris campaign,” King said. “Making phone calls allows you to understand more about the candidates’ campaign and what voters are actually looking for in a candidate. Overall, it’s an extremely rewarding experience.”