Mercer University, founded in 1833, was declared a liberal arts college after Jesse Mercer and other prominent Baptist leaders of his time recognized that promising individuals needed an institution that furthered their knowledge and love for the humanities, the arts and the sciences.
Initially the classes offered in these subsets of learning categories were limited, but the curriculum expanded with the growth of Mercer’s student body. The largest of these expansions occurred between 1982 and 2006 when eight new colleges and schools were created, including the School of Medicine, the Stetson School of Business and Economics and the Townsend School of Music.
The board of trustees and the presidents who served Mercer University during these developing years continued the legacy of the initial founders of Mercer because they sought to fulfill the learning needs of their diverse body of students.
Today, 21 majors and minors are offered in the College of Liberal Arts. However, in viewing this list of majors and minors, one can see that a dancing major or minor is not available to its students.
Dancing, since the dawn of civilized man, has been seen as one of the foremost expressions of art. In fact Havelock Ellis, a social reformer of his day, called dance “the loftiest, the most moving, and the most beautiful of the arts, because it is not a mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself.”
Thus, in order for Mercer University to remain true to its original heritage founded on advancing the arts as part of a liberal arts education, it must seek to offer its students the opportunity to major or minor in dance.
According to Dance Magazine, 11 colleges throughout the state of Georgia offer dance programs, including the University of Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and Berry College.
In their “ten-year strategic plan,” launched in April of 2008, the board of trustees vowed to make Mercer University on par with the most prestigious universities of the south, including Emory University.
By creating a dance major and minor, Mercer can come one step closer to achieving this ideal. Furthermore, Mercer will stand out from other Georgia colleges of comparable size that do not have a dance program, enabling Mercer to become the home of students who excel in the area of dance.
Thus, not only would prospective dance students benefit from the formation of a dance program at Mercer University, but Mercer University would flourish even more as a liberal arts institution, growing in size and in prestige.
As the influential philosopher Nietzsche once said, “dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words.” As part of continuing the legacy of Mercer University, let us “put Mercer on its toes,” creating a program exclusively for dancers of the future.
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